Laundry detergent packets pose threat to kids

By Millaine Wells, Local 5 News

Published 08/12 2014 03:46PM

Updated 08/12 2014 07:28PM

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - A warning about popular laundry detergent pods.

According to the Wisconsin Poison Center, the number of calls involving the packets of concentrated chemicals is skyrocketing.

There were 71 cases in 2012, 130 cases in 2013 and 170 cases so far in 2014.

"They look harmless but they are really not" says Dr. Jocko Zifferblatt.

His emergency room at St Mary's Hospital in Green Bay has treated several kids who have ingested detergent from a pod.

"This is sort of a new thing for the medical community" Dr. Zifferblatt explains.

In the past, doctors say, even if kids got into a jug of detergent they spit it out immediately because of the bad taste.

Now kids are putting the bright colored packs in their mouths thinking they are gummy candy.

"They are colorful, the colors are very bright. They are squishy and it feels like a toy" says Debbie Collard, a grandmother of six.

She uses the pods in her laundry room and to wash dishes.

"It scares me a little bit and I watch [three of my grandkids] every day. But, you have to be observant, this little guy will be three next month. He can get the lock open and I have caught him with the Cascade in his hand" Collard says.

Angela Bjorn, a mother of two, is also worried saying "It is defiantly something my child would want and would be interesting to him if he had access to it, so that is concerning".

The packages of detergent are designed to pop almost instantly in water. In the case of many children, they explode inside their mouth once in contact with saliva.

"The problem is you can get an esophagitis from it. The actual chemical can cake onto the esophagus and cause burns" explains Dr. Zifferblatt.

Some patients needed to be put on a ventilator to help them breathe.

According to the doctor "The key is that if they are having progressive vomiting or they are not acting right, they should come right in".

Most moms already follow the advice of childhood safety experts.

"I make sure all the cabinets are locked that have cleaning supplies in them. My cleaning supplies are kept up high on top of the refrigerator where they will not be able to get them" says Bjorn.

Wisconsin Poison Center’s has more information about the laundry detergent packets on its website. Click here for the details.

It is a good idea to program the Poison Control hotline into your phone 1-800-222-1222.

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