September 6, 2012
Dishwasher Capsules Mistaken For Candy By Young Children
John Neumann for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
They are colorful, they are bite-sized, but they are not candy, and parents are being warned about the dangers of liquid detergent capsules used in dishwashers and washing machines following a number of cases of children biting into them, reports Huffington Post.
Five toddlers under two years of age have been admitted to UK´s Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow this year after possibly mistaking them for jelly sweets, doctors said. The contents of the capsules contain strong alkaline cleaning agents causing an immediate chemical burn, resulting in breathing problems as the airway swells.
Dr. Lyndsay Fraser, from the hospital´s ear, nose and throat department, said, “We have known for some time about the risk of eye injuries from kids squeezing these liquitabs until they burst. What we have seen more recently is that children are biting into the tablets, presumably because they think they are sweets as they have the same soft texture and bright coloring.”
“The alkaline chemicals in the liquitab cause an immediate chemical burn, causing breathing problems as the airway starts to swell rapidly. Getting them to hospital straight away is imperative.”
“In most of the cases seen so far, we have had to insert a breathing tube to protect the child´s airway from the swelling and help them breathe. If these children hadn´t reached [emergency services] on time, the airway could close over completely with potentially fatal consequences.”
Most of these liquitabs do not come in childproof containers, and compliance with packaging safety standards is currently voluntary, reports Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor for The Telegraph.
“To help prevent future potentially life threatening injuries, improved safety warnings and childproof packaging are urgently required,” researchers argue, adding that they have written to the manufacturers, alerting them to the problem.
Dr. Isabeau Walker, consultant anaesthetist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said cornea transplants had been necessary due to the extensive damage caused by children squeezing the products into their faces. “The problem is these liquitabs do not taste bad so children do not spit them out, they swallow them and can suffer devastating injuries.”
“It used to be things like drain cleaners that caused these injuries but this has increasingly been replaced with liquitabs. Children explore the world with their hands and their mouths so they will inevitably put these attractive capsules in their mouths. Childproof containers would be very sensible. They should also be stored out of reach and sight of children," Walker explained.
Jennifer Henderson, home safety officer at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in Scotland, warns parents to lock up kitchen chemicals. “We were recently alerted to the cases in which children were admitted to hospital in Glasgow as a result of the ingestion of liquid detergent from capsules and were asked to circulate this information among our network of home safety contacts so it could reach as wide an audience as possible.”
“In addition to children swallowing detergent, doctors have also previously raised awareness of the risk of eye injuries to young children who get liquid detergent in their eyes,” Henderson said. “The safe storage of all household chemicals is absolutely crucial and we encourage families to keep chemical items like laundry detergents and other products in a lockable cupboard.”