The Norman Transcript

November 20, 2012

Poison hazards can lurk throughout the house

By Brenda Hill
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — What is colorful, squishy and attractive to kids? A ball is certainly one answer.

However, families are finding out the new concentrated single-unit dose laundry and dishwasher detergent packets also fit in that category.

There are a growing number of reports of children putting the packets into their mouths, ingesting the contents and becoming sick. The unfortunate trend is prompting reminders to parents and caregivers to keep all laundry products as well as other hazardous materials out of the reach of children.

The laundry and dishwasher packets are brightly colored, soft and look like candy or a small toy, so they easily draw children’s attention. It is important to treat the packets like any other cleaning product. In between uses, keep them safely sealed and stored away from kids’ curious hands.

Usually the exposure to the detergents causes a mild, upset stomach or possibly no symptoms at all. But poison center experts are receiving reports that some kids who digested the packets experienced excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping, while others experienced extreme drowsiness and respiratory distress. For those who got the product in their eyes, it caused severe irritation. In some cases, children were hospitalized.

Besides keeping the detergents locked up and out of the reach of kids, consumers should follow the instructions on the product label. If there is any concern that a child has been exposed to one of the liquid laundry packets, or any hazardous material for that matter, call your local poison center immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.

Local poison control centers can be reached at 800-222-1222 and are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide free, confidential guidance.

Just about any substance can be considered poisonous if it is used improperly, by the wrong person or in the incorrect amount, including household products, chemicals, animal bites, and prescription, over-the-counter, herbal and illegal or animal drugs.

Cleaning products, including laundry detergent and floor cleaners, are among the most common sources of poison for children, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Also on that list are cosmetics such as perfumes and nail polish, personal care products such as deodorant and soap, pain medicines such as ibuprofen, and foreign bodies and toys.

These substances can enter the body through the eyes, ears and skin or by inhaling or swallowing. Regardless of the substance, if you think a kid has been exposed to something dangerous, the local poison and control center can often guide you through the situation right over the phone.

The best way to prepare for a poison emergency is to contact the local poison control center.

Request stickers and magnets printed with the emergency contact number and post them on and near all the phones in the house. It also is a good idea to store the number in each family member’s cell phone.

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