Noble McIntyre on June 4, 2013
Baby- and child-proofing your house can be daunting, but it’s necessary. If you have a young child, you may already be taking lots of precautions when it comes to hazardous chemicals in your home. Although there are endless ways that children can find trouble, there are some simple things that you can do to eliminate at least some of the hazards. Of course, there’s never a substitute for good supervision; being carefully watched by a parent or caregiver prevents a lot more accidents than any amount of childproofing. However, there are bound to be moments when the adult in charge needs to take his or her eyes off the little rascals, and you want to be sure that the little ones don’t get into something they shouldn’t.
“Hazardous chemicals” means a lot of things. You may think of the obvious: antifreeze, bleach, drain cleaner, ammonia and the like. However, there many substances that you may not consider hazardous, but they are harmful if ingested by a child. A prime example of an attractive, but hazardous, substance is single-load liquid laundry detergent packets.
These single-load packets are attractive to babies and children because they look like toys, teethers or even candy. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned that the packets are extremely harmful if the liquid is ingested. In 2012, there were 500 incidents of people injured by these products; children have required hospitalization because of loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling and difficulty breathing. As well, eye contact with the detergent can cause severe irritation and temporary vision loss.
Because the packets are “sealed”, you might be less concerned about your toddler handling them than you would be about, perhaps, an open bottle of detergent. But, don’t let the plastic exterior fool you. The packets are designed to dissolve quickly when in contact with water. Therefore, the highly concentrated toxic chemicals will be released immediately when a child puts them in his mouth or if they are touched with wet hands.
Fortunately, this is one childhood safety hazard that is easy to prevent: Keep out of reach of children! The CPSC recommends that you:
If swallowed or exposed to the eye, call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222.