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Warning: Detergent packets could kill or injure your child, grandchild

The Orlando Sentinel Thursday reported that a 7-month-old boy died after eating a laundry detergent packet in Kissimmee, Fla., last week

Laundry PacketsThe Sentinel said that an investigation into the incident is underway to confirm the cause of death. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning about these products:

“Liquid laundry packets are attractive to children as play items because they are soft and colorful and they resemble familiar items like candy, toys and teething products,” the commission said in its alert.

“Because these packets dissolve quickly and release highly concentrated toxic chemicals when contacted with water, wet hands, or saliva, consumers are strongly urged to always handle laundry packets carefully and with dry hands.”

The incident in Florida could be the first reported death tied to detergent packets in the United States, the Sentinel said. 

Between January 1 and July 31 this year, there have been reports of 5,753 children who were exposed to single-load laundry packets, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers

During 2012, the centers said reports of 6,231 exposures of children 5 and younger were received. In some serious cases, children have been hospitalized in critical condition requiring ventilators.

Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports, said companies should consider changing the color of the packets to make them less appealing or coating them with a foul-tasting material.

The commission recommends the following

  • Don’t let children handle laundry packets.
  • Keep the laundry packets sealed in their original packaging, and make sure they’re locked up and out of a child’s sight and reach.
  • Immediately call Poison Help at 800-222-1222, if a laundry packet is swallowed or exposed to the eye.
Copyright 2013, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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