Just as you keep charcoal lighter fluid and harsh cleaning products out of children’s reach, be sure those cute little laundry and dishwasher detergent pods are high and away from grasping hands. They are more dangerous than other types of detergent, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) has issued warnings since 2012 about pre-packaged, single-load packs of laundry detergent. Despite the warnings, exposures to young children have increased every year since 2012, with more than 12,000 in 2015. In its most recent alert, the AAPCC reported that from January 1, 2016 through March 31, 2016, 2,840 children five years of age or younger were exposed to detergent from laundry packets.
It’s important to note that not all exposures are poisonings. The AAPCC states, “The term ‘exposure’ means someone has had contact with the substance in some way; for example, ingested, inhaled, absorbed by the skin or eyes, etc. Not all exposures are poisonings or overdoses.” The journal Pediatrics recently found U.S. poison control centers received over 37,000 calls during 2013 and 2014 in cases where children under six were exposed to to the pods. One of the authors of the study, Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, urged manufacturers to make the pods’ packaging safer for kids.
The appeal of laundry pods to children is obvious. The packets are “colorful and squishy.” It’s easy to see how a child could think a soap pod is candy or a toy. The only answer is to store the container of detergent pods high, out of children’s reach. The AAPCC has a colorful fact sheet on the dangers of laundry packets that can be downloaded, printed, and put on the laundry room wall. The sheet explains the dangers and lists the nationwide toll-free number to call to be connected with a local poison control center.
Lest parents get too panicked, the AAPCC fact sheet includes this information about the detergent pods: “Usually, swallowing laundry detergent causes mild stomach upset or even no symptoms. Poison center experts say the new laundry packets seem to be different. Some children exposed to them experience excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping. Some get very sleepy. Some even have had trouble breathing and have needed a ventilator to help them breathe.” However, the pods were linked to two deaths and several critical poisonings in the two years the Pediatrics research covered.
If you kid comes in contact with the contents of a pod, call a poison center immediately. The number is 800-222-1222. And even better, don’t have to make the call; keep your laundry detergent pods locked up and out of reach.