Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Please Don't Drink the Air Freshener

Just when you’re not sure what to write about your four-year-old tries to drink air freshener. Isn’t it always the case? She’s fine, but I may begin a re-child-proofing of our house to keep up with her curiosity.

It all began innocently enough when she told me she wanted another sip of apple juice. I was putting the lunch dishes in the dishwasher and her glass was still on the table. A few seconds later she skipped towards me and said the water with the sticks tasted bad.

Hum, I thought, taking a look at her juice glass. What does she mean by sticks?  She made a face and I was certain she’d tasted something that didn’t seem right.

“Can you show me?” I asked.

After a few seconds she led me into the entryway. We have a large round table decorated with a lamp and about fifty feet of garland my seven-year-old has made out of construction paper. In the center is a glass and wood reed diffuser that sends a subtle, welcoming scent into the air. She and her sister had given it to me, with a little help from their father, a week before on my birthday.

“You drank the air freshener?” I yelled.

“I’m so sorry,” she whimpered.

I led her back into the kitchen and pulled out a chopstick.

“Pretend this is one of the wooden sticks,” I said, holding the chopstick. “Did you put your lips on it and then go ‘yuck’ of did you use it like a straw and try to suck?”

She was not game. And I had a feeling she’d be suggestible to whatever answer sounded like it would make me less upset.

I called our pediatrician. He was calm and helpful.

“Lemongrass,” he said, when I told him the scent. “Well, that’s edible.” Still, he said, call poison control.

Very Old Information
I happened to have the number for poison control quite handy. It’s time likes this, and perhaps only times like this, when I’m glad our kitchen hasn’t been updated since 1980. The previous owner had affixed a small primer from poison control to the inside of a top cabinet and I dialed the number. It forwarded me to the current number and a friendly man answered. I explained my daughter tried to drink from an air freshener diffuser, I didn't think she'd gotten much, but my doctor suggested I call.

“Yes, I did have the original box,” I said. Of course it said to keep out of reach of children and do not ingest. “Williams-Sonoma. Lemongrass,” I offered.

Not long after, he told me he had pulled up the product on his computer. There was probably not much to worry about given her exposure. There was alcohol in it. And oil. And I am sure a lot of other things he didn’t tell me. He thought she’d be fine.

“Maybe have her drink some juice,” he added, “to get the taste out.”

Her breath still smelled like oily lemongrass, something that is a lot less pleasant coming from your child than it is wafting through a room. I gave her some juice. Then I walked her over to the diffuser and explained that she was never to drink anything that I hadn’t given her, especially if it wasn't more akin to water or juice or milk.

I put the diffuser on top of a bookcase, very much out of reach.

You may remember about a year ago when a lot of attention was given to new colorful gel pods of laundry detergent. Shortly after they were introduced, kids began eating the pods in alarming numbers: jumping from 200 reported cases to 1,210 in about two months. The concentrated detergent was dangerous, some kids were hospitalized, some put on ventilators. Senator Chuck Schumer urged the consumer product safety commission to require child safety locks on the packaging.

Senator Schumer was made fun of for talking about the pods and saying laundry detergent was made to look delicious. And I remember thinking that I was glad he was pushing for better packaging and labeling, but that I could not figure out how a kid would think the pod looked like candy, or something interesting to eat.

That was then.

This week on The Educated Mom, we talk about the educational value of a road trip. I'm heading on one soon, and will be back with a new post in April.


Lunch Box Mom said...

Just when you’re not sure what to write about your four-year-old tries to drink air freshener. Isn’t it always the case? She’s fine, but I may begin a re-child-proofing of our house to keep up with her curiosity.

Anonymous said...

I ate the bathroom air freshener at age 6 in 1976 and almost went into anaphylactic shock. I broke out into hives, my throat hurt, and I started having trouble breathing. Your post was an excellent reminder.

Lunch Box Mom said...

Wow-Anonymous, thanks for sharing your story. I think I remember the kind of air freshener you might have eaten. I am glad you were ok--after quite an allergic reaction.