Tales from the poison center: vape juice

What I learned from my son’s mishap with e-cigarette products

My 3-year-old son and I stopped by my buddy’s house to borrow a tool for a plumbing repair. While we were in the garage, Matthew wandered away and into the house. I don’t know how long he was gone, but at some point, I noticed how quiet everything was —never a good sign with Matthew. We went inside and found him playing with my buddy’s vanilla-flavored e-cigarette liquid. The best we could tell, he either drank or spilled at least half the bottle of vape juice. His breath smelled of vanilla and so did his hands and clothes.

I keep the number for the Kentucky Poison Control Center in my cellphone contacts, so I called immediately. Your staff asked me to remove the contaminated clothes, rinse his skin and get him to the nearest hospital. While we were en route, the Poison Control Center staff called ahead to let the hospital know we were on our way. Luckily, Matthew is fine, but the hospital kept him for observation several hours before we were released.

After Matthew’s experience, I felt like I had failed the Dadology 101 class. My wife and I learned a lot about kids and nicotine exposure. We’ve started asking friends who smoke or use e-cigarettes to put their supplies out of reach when our kids are around. We’re on a crusade to make sure other parents know how and why they need to be cautious about nicotine, tobacco and e-cigarette products.

– Vigilant in Vine Grove

What parents need to know about e-cigarettes
The Kentucky Poison Control Center answers calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at (800) 222-1222 and kypoisoncontrol.com

Dear Vigilant in Vine Grove,

We’re so glad Matthew is OK! Trust us, we’re not here to judge your parenting or your friend’s use of e-cigarettes. Stuff happens, and when it does, we’re here to help families. In fact, we’re happy for parents like you who help protect kids from preventable health risks by sharing lessons from the school of hard knocks.

There is good reason to be concerned about e-cigarette, tobacco and smoking cessation products that contain ingredients that are harmful children. Here are some important tips and facts for parents to consider:

  • Kids are especially curious about things they don’t have at home. Whether it’s a tube of lipstick or an e-cigarette vaporizer, if your child hasn’t seen it before, it’s very likely to be an object of desire. The best way to guard your child from exploring harmful toxins is simple: Keep them out of sight and out of reach. E-cigarettes, cigarette and cigar butts, ashtrays, smokeless tobacco, nicotine patches, lozenges, gum or other smoking cessation products that may look and taste like candy can easily tantalize kids. Teach children to ask before they eat or drink anything, and make it clear that tobacco products are not for play.
  • Even a small amount of nicotine can be serious for children. Nicotine is a dangerous poison. For an adult body, that’s one thing — quite another for a toddler. When a child ingests even a modest amount of nicotine, we frequently send the family to a hospital. Children need to be medically monitored for all kinds of health risks after some nicotine exposures. In minor cases, nicotine may cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, hyperactivity or restlessness. More extreme reactions, such as difficulty breathing, changes in blood pressure, seizures and even death, are possible from serious exposures.
  • Bathe your child after a nicotine exposure. Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin. If nicotine products come into contact with your child’s clothing or skin, you can limit absorption by washing or rinsing the skin and changing your child’s clothes.

Call the Kentucky Poison Control Center as soon as your child is exposed to e-cigarettes or nicotine products. We coach you through protective steps you can take at home, and we prepare the nearest hospital for your child’s unique situation when medical care is needed. If we can help you avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital, it’s a win for your child.