|Dr. Joseph Cincotta|
Although consumers love the convenience, laundry and dishwasher detergent pods can pose serious health risks if they fall into the hands of young children. According to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 17,000 children younger than six years of age were exposed to detergent pods in 2012-2013.
Children often mistake the brightly colored pods for candy or toys. Because the sacs containing the detergent are water-soluble, they are especially dangerous if a child puts them in his or her mouth. The study showed that nearly 80 percent of detergent pod exposures involved ingestion, which can cause vomiting, respiratory distress, lethargy and, in one case, death. If a child’s skin or eyes are exposed to the detergent, serious irritation can occur.
“It is critical that parents are aware of the potentially harmful effects of household products and take preventative measures to protect their children,” said Dr. Joseph Cincotta, family physician and medical director for PinnacleHealth Medical Group. “One mistake could have serious consequences.”
If you use detergent pods in your home, your best bet is to keep them safely out of sight and out of reach in a locked cabinet. Here are some other tips to help you protect your children and prevent poisoning at home:
- Store household products and medicines in their original containers. Store household products in a different place than food and medicine.
- Keep the nationwide poison control center phone number (1-800-222-1222) near every phone in your home and save it in your cell phone. Poison Control can provide assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If your child is unresponsive or is having a severe reaction, dial 911.
- Do not store household products under the sink or in unlocked cabinets. Never underestimate your child’s ability to defeat a safety lock or climb.
- Put household products away immediately after use. Do not leave household products unattended during use.
- Do not rely on packaging. Containers are typically child-resistant, not child-proof.
- Don’t keep it if you don’t need it. Safely dispose of any medicines or household products that you no longer use.
- Talk to older children. Explain the importance of staying away from unfamiliar plants and household products. Tell children they should never take any medicine unless an adult says it’s okay.
“In the course of busy family life, it can be easy to forget to keep household safety a top priority,” said Dr. Cincotta. “Fortunately, there are a number of online resources that can provide a good refresher for busy parents.”
For additional tips on preventing poisoning and other common childhood accidents, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Safe Child website at: www.cdc.gov/safechild.