An Aldergrove family has gone public with their story about their close brush with death to help other families become more aware of the dangers of common household products.
Kayla White said that in the blink of an eye her toddler had reached inside the family’s front-loading laundry machine and bit into a Tide pod sitting atop the soiled laundry. Little Hunter, who just turned one year old on Nov. 8, immediately spat it out but the strong detergent he had ingested when it squirted into the back of his throat resulted in a near-death experience that was traumatic for Hunter and his family.
Kayla and her husband Shane are vigilant about safety for their family of five. All household cleaners are kept up high in a locked cupboard, their kitchen range and fridge are locked, and all the kitchen and laundry cabinets are locked. The laundry machine also locks when it is in operation, but this is where the story went wrong.
“I had just come home from an eight hour shift at work and was making dinner and Shane was doing the laundry after feeding Hunter his dinner. It was 7:35 Sunday night and I was going to put Hunter to bed so I told Shane not to turn the machine on yet because the shaking on the spin cycle might keep Hunter up,” said Kayla.
“I was playing peekaboo with Hunter who was around the corner from the kitchen and I stopped to turn off the rice cooker. When I turned around I heard Hunter gurgling and ran over to see him trying to crawl to me. There was water on the floor and I looked behind him and saw a ‘smooshed’ Tide pod on the floor behind him.”
Hunter had pulled the front-loading laundry door open, reached into the machine for the colourful Tide pod and put it in his mouth and bit it.
The couple leapt into action, with one calling 911 and the other rinsing Hunter’s mouth out. Poison Control was connected to the 911 operator and the family on the phone and the family was told to give Hunter milk — advice which doctors later said was a mistake.
Hunter drank his bottle of milk in Shane’s arms by the time paramedics arrived but his condition worsened.
“The paramedics ran inside and rushed him out to the ambulance before I could get my shoes on,” said Kayla.
“They were suctioning his mouth and Hunter was projectile vomiting, he couldn’t get his breath. They told me to sit and stay calm for the ride while they called emergency at Langley Memorial Hospital, telling them that Hunter’s airway was obstructed and he was passing out.
“When we got there the doctors and nurses were waiting at the door. Hunter had stopped vomiting and was completely exhausted, and the emergency doctor asked why we had given him milk. I said that’s what Poison Control had said to do, and the emergency doctor said that was the worst thing we could have done.”
She said the doctors and nurses took Hunter’s vital signs and then it took four of them plus Shane an hour to finally get the IV line inserted because he panicked and fought back fiercely. Hunter kept vomiting until there was nothing left inside him, and they kept him overnight in the pediatric ward for observation to determine whether he had aspirated any of the pod into his lungs.
“They let us go home on a pass Monday night but kept his bed open in case we had to return in the night,” said Kayla.
“We returned Tuesday morning to get Hunter reassessed. The doctor checked his lungs and said it didn’t sound like there was any crackling — he was concerned that he could get aspiration pneumonia. And he couldn’t see any burns down by Hunter’s tonsils but said the pod might have irritated or burned his esophagus.”
Kayla and Shane say they and Hunter’s doctors will monitor Hunter’s progress, which appears to be good as of Wednesday evening.
However, Kayla said that doctors at Langley Memorial told her that they have seen several cases involving toddlers ingesting Tide pods and that Hunter’s case was far from the first they’ve seen.
“That’s why I’m going public with our story. We have gotten some backlash from people but it’s more important that other parents know how quickly this can happen and take steps to prevent it. These pods are so highly concentrated.”
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For its part, in response to the short-lived “Tide pod challenge” fad in which teens of all ages filmed themselves eating the blue and orange infused packages, Tide’s parent company Procter and Gamble released the following statement: “Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes and they’re used safely in millions of households every day. They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke.”
Kayla also said she would be calling Poison Control to have them update the information given out in response to ingestion of detergents.
“After we gave Hunter milk like Poison Control told us that night he was vomiting sudsy soap, blowing bubbles out of his nose and aspirating the soap. The emergency doctor told us that giving him milk was the worst thing we could have done,” said Kayla.