Talk to Your Kids about the Tide Pod Challenge

The first time we caught wind of the newest internet craze, the Tide Pod Challenge, we did a real double-take. As most of the initial reports were coming from questionable news sources, we of course questioned the validity of the challenge – is this really happening, or did someone come up with a new and creative way to rile people up?

What is the Tide Pod Challenge?

Sadly, it didn’t take a ton of digging to find out that people really are putting laundry detergent pods in their mouths.

There are three things we know for sure:

  1. Yes, children are putting laundry detergent pods in their mouths.
  2. No one can figure out where the challenge originated.
  3. Laundry detergent isn’t for consumption.

According to Snopes, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that “in the first 11 days of 2018, there had been 40 reported exposures to liquid laundry detergent pods by 13- to 19- year-olds.” They also noted that the number was up 20% compared to similar incidents in 2017, and that at least 50% of this year’s incidents have been deliberate. These are just the reported statistics.

While the Proctor and Gamble company has very little to do with this, teens do seem to be gravitating towards the brand name for the challenge. Some teens are biting into Tide pods to make videos while others are doing so to make memes.

The Consequences of Eating Laundry Pods

This particular challenge is, obviously, dangerous. Tide and other manufacturers have always had warnings about their detergents on their packaging. In 2013, Tide switched from clear to opaque storage containers, and then later in the same year added child-proof latches.

The pods contain highly concentrated detergent – more concentrated than the liquid you’d pour from a bottle. This means ingesting even small amounts can make you ill. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported children experiencing breathing problems, vomiting, burns to the esophagus, and even comas. There have even been reports of older individuals with dementia dying after eating laundry pods. Then there are, of course, the risks of burns to your skin and contact with your eyes.

Teens and adults aren’t immune to these consequences. The chemicals contained within laundry pods can – again – cause severe burns to your esophagus, compromising your airway.

Talking to Your Kids about the Tide Pod Challenge

Keep and eye on your kids and have an open discussion with them about the Tide Pod Challenge. Have they heard of it? Have their friends been talking about it?

While we do our best to not create fear, “challenges” like this can be deceiving and this one warrants a conversation. Your teen may think it is harmless to hold up a laundry pod and pretend to bite into it for a photograph or “meme,” but may be surprised if there is an accidental breakage and he suddenly has highly-concentrated laundry detergent in his mouth, on his skin, or in his eyes.  Having a better understanding of just how dangerous the contents of those pods can be may be enough to deter him from playing along.

Last but not least, make sure you have Poison Control phone numbers posted with your other emergency contacts. The American Association of Poison Control Centers can be reached at 800-222-1222. Don’t guess at what you should do and don’t waste time asking Dr. Google for advice. If you or one of your children is exposed to laundry detergent, call 9-1-1 and/or poison control for immediate assistance.

Let us know if you have questions or need help!

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