• National Poison Prevention Week is March 19-25.
From the Harnett County Department of Public Health
The newest way to wash clothes is by dropping a “pod” of detergent into the washing machine. Single-load liquid laundry packets (also referred to as laundry pods, pacs or packs) contain concentrated detergent. The appeal and design of laundry detergent pods has resulted in many reported poisonings among children.
Children are often attracted to the pods because of their colorful appearance and size and similarity to candy. Many laundry pods are produced in bright orange, purple and green colors. The Harnett County Child Fatality Prevention Team is working to raise awareness about unintentional poisonings during National Poison Prevention Week which is recognized March 19-25.
If not safely stored or handled properly, the laundry packets can lead to injury, especially to children. Between 2012 and 2013, more than 700 children ages 5 and younger were hospitalized or experienced serious effects as a result of liquid laundry packets, with the impact greatest among 1- and 2-year-olds according to Safe Kids.
Ingestion appears to be a common route of exposure for laundry detergent pods among children. Liquid laundry detergent packets are designed to dissolve in water. When they come in contact with wet hands or mouths, they start to dissolve and release the concentrated liquid. The detergent can irritate the skin and burn the eyes.
The most telling sign children have been exposed are the smell of laundry detergent or colorful liquid on their skin or clothing. If your child does ingest the liquid detergent packet, the health effects can be mild to severe. Contact the Poison Help number at 1-800-222-1222. Stay calm, most poison situations can be resolved quickly. Call 911 if the person is unconscious or has trouble breathing.
While laundry pods are not marketed for children, there is an attraction to the small, brightlycolored objects. These products aren’t toys so don’t let children handle them. Parents and caregivers should keep laundry detergent pods, as well as other household cleaning products, out of reach and out of sight of children. While child-resistant containers and pod design changes are important components of risk reduction in laundry pod exposure, the only way to eliminate risk of harm from these products is to prevent children from accessing them.
The Child Fatality Prevention Team provides the following tips for parents and caregivers. Make it a habit to store the laundry pods out of sight or in a secure place, such as a child-proof locked cabinet, just as you would other poisonous cleaning supplies. Remember, keep it out of sight and high up. Be careful not to puncture or pull pods apart. Pods can quickly dissolve upon contact with water, wet hands or saliva. Always keep the container closed and dry. Always ensure reclosable bag or container is tightly sealed after use and during storage. As with other laundry or household cleaning products, keep pods in their original container with intact labels.
If you think a child has been exposed to a laundry detergent pod, call your local Poison Help number at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.
For more information, log onto the Harnett County Health Department’s website located at www.harnett.org/heatlh or call the Health Department at (910) 893-7550.