This week we received a timely reminder after a New York toddler died from nicotine poisoning. The one-year-old child was discovered unresponsive after ingesting liquid nicotine and police say he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. While they did not directly say if the baby had ingested e-liquid meant for an electronic cigarette, it still gives us an important reminder to use caution with our e-liquids when there are young children in the home.
Health officials report that only a tiny amount of nicotine liquid can be deadly to a child. “One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency department,” the American Association of Poison Control Centers said in a statement. “Despite the dangers these products pose to children, there are currently no standards set in place that require child-proof packaging.”
While this is the first known instance of child dying from liquid nicotine exposure, poison control has reported a surge in close calls this year. In 2011, there were only 271 reported nicotine exposures called in, but this year, there have already been 3,638 incidents reported. Dr. Donna Seger, director of the poison control center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said that parents must exercise extreme caution with e-liquids containing nicotine because they are easy for kids to open and ingest. “They’re not that difficult to get into,” she said.
To make matters worse, some e-liquids are packaged with bright labels and pictures depicting candy flavors. This tempts children that are too young to understand the dangers. Lawmakers are gradually working to develop laws that would require e-liquids to be packaged in child-proof bottles and New York is expected to pass a similar bill in a few weeks. But it is too little, too late for one family who is planning a funeral for their one-year-old.
We need to use this horrible tragedy as a reminder to keep all of our e-liquids locked up and out of sight. Whether you have small kids or pets, e-liquids are just as dangerous if not more so than household cleaners and prescription drugs. Don’t let this kind of accident happen in your home. Take time today to lock up your e-liquids and talk to your kids about the dangers of ingesting nicotine liquids. Let’s work together so we can avoid losing another child in such a tragic accident.