In the last few years, using eCigarettes, also known as “vaping,” has become popular. The liquid nicotine (also called eJuice or eLiquid) used to refill eCig cartridges comes in more than 100 flavors many of which taste and smell like things kids like to eat or drink – fruit punch, watermelon, gummy bears, and chocolate cake, for example. The scents, combined with the fact that some of the liquids are brightly colored and looks a lot like juice, can make liquid nicotine attractive to kids. What many people don’t realize is that this liquid nicotine is very concentrated and is a dangerous poison.
Since these products hit the market, there has been a big jump in the number of calls to the poison help line about liquid nicotine. In 2014 alone, there were more 2300 calls to poison centers for kids ages 5 years and younger, and at least one child died from swallowing some liquid nicotine in an eCig cartridge.
So just how dangerous is liquid nicotine? Medical research has shown that if kids swallow just a half-teaspoon (2.5ml) of liquid nicotine, it can cause severe stomachache, vomiting, seizures, fast heart rate, breathing troubles, and even death. Liquid nicotine also soaks into the skin very easily, so just touching a small amount can be dangerous. Many of the “vaping” and liquid nicotine products that are available come in containers that are not child-resistant, so it is important to keep these products out of the reach of kids.
The following tips can help you keep your children safe from liquid nicotine poisoning.
- Put it up and away and out of sight of children.
Store bottles of liquid nicotine and other eCigarette supplies out of reach and out of sight of children - preferably in a locked cabinet. Check every place your child visits, such as the houses of grandparents, friends, and caregivers to make sure they store liquid nicotine safely.
- Refill alone.
Only refill eCig cartridges when children are not around, and put supplies away immediately after use.
- Protect skin.
Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling liquid nicotine. If you spill some, clean it up with a paper towel right away, and then throw everything away in a trash can that kids cannot open.
- Safely dispose of liquid nicotine and supplies.
Follow the instructions on the label for disposal. If there are no instructions, take the following steps:
1. Pour unused liquid into a bag of kitty litter or coffee grounds.
2. Put empty liquid nicotine containers, paper towels, and other used eCig supplies into the bag and close it.
3. Throw the bag away in a trash can kids cannot open.
- Know how to contact the poison help line.
Have the number for the poison help line, 1-800-222-1222, posted in a visible spot in your home and stored in your phone. Call immediately if you suspect someone has had direct contact with liquid nicotine.
For more information on this and other topics, visit www.PreventChildInjury.org.
This post is courtesy of Prevent Child Injury, a national group of organizations and individuals, including researchers, health professionals, educators, and child advocates, who work together to prevent injuries to children and adolescents in the U.S. In collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prevent Child Injury promotes coordinated communication to the public about prevention of child injury, which is the leading cause of death of our nation’s youth. To become a member of Prevent Child Injury or for more information and resources on this and other injury topics, please visit www.preventchildinjury.org.
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