When I was about nine years old, I remember the twins across the street accidentally ate their mother’s laxative medication, which looked like chocolate.  The neighborhood kids stood on the street as the ambulance pulled away with the twins and their mother inside, heading towards the emergency room. They were fine, but it provided a good opportunity for my mother to give me yet another stern lecture about refraining from touching medicine and other items in the house that could be hazardous to my health. 

Today, the same rules apply in my house, where I have two young children running around, as well as their friends, on any given day.  I am sure that virtually all parents provide the same guidance to their children nearly every day.

Like many parents, I enjoy the convenience of the single-load liquid laundry packets, because I no longer have to worry about measuring liquid, cleaning up spills and guessing how much detergent I have left. They are also convenient to take on both vacation and business trips.  Single-dose laundry packs save me time and energy and make one of the most taxing aspects of housekeeping a bit easier.

Along with the convenience that comes with those packets, I understand the responsibility that I have as a parent to keep the packets away from my children.  These packs are among a long list of items in our home that the kids are prohibited from viewing, let alone using.  These items include Clorox bleach, Soft Scrub, Formula 409, lit candles, and even adult mouthwash.  The same is true for medication and various supplements, several of which are multi-colored, look like candy, and seem tempting to curious little eyes.  In addition to stern talks like those that my mother had with me, I take the extra precaution of keeping such items out of reach of my children. This added measure gives me peace-of-mind and assurance that I have done as much as I can to keep dangerous household items out of my kids’ hands. 

There are inherent risks in everything we do – from driving a car to playing sports – but we must balance those risks and walk the line between protecting our families and placing them in a bubble. Smart parents know it is ok to take risks in the home as long as you do the things you need to minimize them. 

We do a disservice to our children and ourselves, however, when our first reaction is to panic instead of encouraging common sense and a safe approach to household products.  Such is the case with single-load liquid laundry packets.  When used properly and kept out of the children’s hands, the packets are safe and effective.  There is no need for government action; what we actually need is parental action within our own homes.  We need to teach our children to stay away from household items that are potentially dangerous. And we also need to move such items as far away from our kids as possible.

We will never be able to pass enough laws and regulations to prevent some people from making mistakes or engaging in careless behavior.  The companies that make these products are already doing their part, developing public education campaigns, offering free cabinet locks and taking steps to make the product packaging safer. But parents have to do their part as well, or run the risk of losing access to a lot of products that make our lives easier.