Child resistant is NOT child resistant

Child proof cap

It seems as if those hard-to-open bottles or containers have been around forever. And for today’s new parents, they have.  But what is the reason and history behind child-resistant packaging?

If you go back to the 1960s, many children were dying from poisoning.  That’s when an education program was developed to warn parents about the dangers of some items in the home, but this was not enough.  

Children were still dying.  It was decided that if a barrier was created between children and household products and medicines, children would be safer.  This led to the passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act in 1970 (with the use of a child proof cap).

This law states: «The required packaging must be designed or manufactured so that it is significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open within a reasonable time, and not too difficult for a normal adult to use properly.»

Rules were created to determine whether a package passes or fails the child test.

The rules define the number of children to be tested, the time limit, and the number of times the container is opened correctly. Rules for adults aged 50-70 years were added in 1995. In these tests, it must be possible for containers to be opened by a certain number of older adults in a specified period of time. 

The law also contains a list of medications and household substances that must be packaged in child-resistant containers.

It is important to remember that the intent of containers with a child proof cap is to increase the time it takes for children to open the container.  

They are not designed to prevent them from opening them completely. Children of different ages will be able to open child-resistant containers if given enough time. The good news is that since these child-resistant containers began to be used, the number of poisoning deaths in young children has dropped from more than 200 in the 1960s and 1970s to fewer than 50 in 2014.

Child-resistant containers do not replace the need to properly store and properly supervise children.  Follow these tips to help keep young children safe from poisonings and overdoses:

  • Household products and medications should be stored in their original containers and in a place out of sight and reach of young children. Locked cabinets are best if possible.
  • Children should not be left alone where medicines or household products are stored.
  • Do not use medicine bottles as rattles to entertain children during diaper changes or when they are fussy.
  • After using the product, take a moment to make sure the child proof cap or closure is secure.
  • Never tell a child that the medicine is sweet.

Things to keep in mind

You can take every conceivable measure to keep your medications out of your child’s reach. But accidents can happen. You should be prepared in case of an emergency.

Call your poison control center right away if you think your child may have swallowed a medicine or vitamin. If you are not sure, call anyway. Keep the poison control center number in your phone so you have it available when you need it. 

Be sure to have the number visible in your home in a place where babysitters or other caregivers can find it. Immediate treatment is important. Be sure to call the poison control line right away and follow their instructions.


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