June 24, 2015

(TODAY Show)

For any family with children under age six, it may be time to invest in cabinet locks. A new report from Safe Kids Worldwide warned that the number of children accessing liquid laundry packets has caused more than 3,700 calls to the U.S. Poison Center through April of this year.

At least 30 children a day require medical attention due to an ingested pod. Since 2012 there have been over 32,000 incidents reported, all involving children under the age of five.

Kate Carr, the President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide says a child's natural tendency to touch and taste put the individual at a higher risk for injury. "Young children are explorers and they like to put everything in their mouths and so liquid laundry packets which dissolve in water can either dissolve on wet fingers or dissolve when they are put into the mouth," Carr told TODAY. "When that happens, there can be some serious consequences for young children."

One of the most important things to protect kids is educating family members on the protocol for using and storing cleaning products, according to industry reps and laundry product makers.
"Manufacturers have already made major changes to their packaging, including the addition of easy-to-understand safety icons, improving warning labels to advise proper use and storage instructions and changing to opaque packaging so the laundry packets are not visible from the outside," according to Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President, Education at the American Cleaning Institute.

In a statement to TODAY, a spokesperson for P&G, which makes Tide, said:
"We have teamed up with Safe Kids Worldwide and the American Cleaning Institute to help educate parents about the importance of storing laundry pacs up and away from children. We want to raise public awareness that safety precautions should be taken, not just under kitchen cabinets or bathroom sinks, but also wherever laundry products are stored. Today, we are seeing encouraging signs that while the market grows, the rate of accidents relative to the number of P&G laundry pacs sold is declining. New products often require new use and storage habits, and this data suggest that industry-wide efforts to increase education and improve packaging are helping reduce the rate of accidents."

Between 2012 and 2013 as many as 17,000 children younger than six had an injury resulting from a detergent pod, according to a separate study in Pediatrics published in November. Almost 80 percent of the kids swallowed a pod. Dr. Gary Smith, the study's co-founder told TODAY.

Children have also been hospitalized for difficulty breathing, severe eye burns and irritations, excessive vomiting, loss of consciousness and temporary vision loss.

Carr says that it's toddlers, though, that need to be monitored more closely.

"There were 32,000 calls to the poison help line for kids 5 and under, but the greatest risk is for kids who are 1- and 2-years-old," Carr said.

Many people have also been receptive to ACI's "KEY Pledge", a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of laundry pods and keeping them away from small children.

"Through these outreach efforts, more than 56,000 people have committed to be laundry-safe," Bock said. "The KEY Pledge campaign has generated a groundswell of awareness and support with its safety posters, infographics, information packets, e-cards and videos demonstrating how to properly and safely use and store liquid laundry packets."

Tips to prevent your child from accessing the pods:

1. Lock up liquid laundry packets and keep out of reach of children.
In 36 percent of the calls made between 2012-2015, loose packets were discovered outside of the container.

2. Keep laundry pods in their original container.
Containers should be secured at all times. No matter how convenient leaving the top open may be, resist the urge and make sure it is tightly fastened.

3. Have a child under the age of 5? Store traditional detergent in your home instead.
This will help eliminate any chance of them swallowing a pod.

4. Wash the child's face, hands and mouth if there is contact with a pod.
Immediately following, call the Poison Control hotline: 1-800-222-1222.

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