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Parents Beware: Detergent Pods and Packets Can Be Fatal

Often mistaken for colorful candy, young children are eating these cleaners, which can be deadly, says a Laguna Niguel parenting expert.

Parents Beware: Detergent Pods and Packets Can Be Fatal

Parents have yet another thing to worry about: keeping young children away from colorful detergent cleaning pods and packetd for dishwashers and washing machines.

Apparently, the little ones are mistaking these bright, swirly packets meant for cleaning dirty dishes and laundry as yummy candy. It's not as far fetched as you might think, have you seen one? 

The  American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), reports these pacs pose a serious poison risk for children. 

Doctors, too, have been reporting more and more cases of little kids eating concentrated detergent pacs, with pretty serious results such as needing to be put on a ventilator, or falling into a coma.

You can download the  PDF press release from the AAPCC if you want to learn more. The release is specifically about laundry detergent.

Most boxes such as Finish Quantum powerballs like those pictured above, clearly state the pods are dangerous if ingested (or gets on skin or in eyes) and contains information about specific dangerous ingredients, as well as instructions for calling the poison control center.

In light of the issue, many companies have promised to revamp their packaging and will start using child-proof containers.

Local experts have their own opinions, too.

“As Ben Franklin said: 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' holds very true. As emergency physicians we have long struggled with candy look-alikes," says Robert Winokur, MD, medical director, emergency services at Mission Hospital. "

To a child, a colorful toxic medication that resembles M & Ms or Skittles may be potentially lethal, he says.

"We have seen countless accidental ingestions with these products. Parents need to be aware of a new threat-colorful gel packaged laundry detergents," he said.  

These products once ingested may cause gastric irritation and even caustic burns. Damage to the lungs may also occur with vomiting, he said.  

"Now is the time to heed Franklin's advice, take this opportunity to poison-proof your home," he suggested. "Remove all harmful products from a child’s reach. Secure all medication is a safe, child-proof environment and prevent, prevent, prevent. As I tell my kids, there is no time like the present to act. Go ahead and do it now.”

As Southern California’s only regional trauma center and pediatric hospital (with CHOC Children’s at Mission), the doctor says it unfortunately sees many emergencies like this involving children. 

Additionally, Laguna Niguel-based Dr. Ann Corwin, known to many as “The Parenting Doctor,” has made it her life’s work to develop practical parenting programs for parents and children says: "Parents need to keep in mind that children, for their first three years of life, are discovering their world, and one of their methods of going about that discovery process is by putting everything in their mouths! For parents of toddlers, this article can serve as a reminder to revisit your safety locks and ensure that anything of danger is locked away. A parent's number job is to keep kids safe."

It's also a good thing to know the phone number for the poison control center, at 1-800-222-1222. It's a wise idea to keep that one on the side of the fridge or programmed into your cell phone. In the event of a poison emergency, call this number and give them as much info as you can about what happened. They know what to do and they will help you know what to do.


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