Stash your tricky little e-cig bottles far from kids

man smoking electronic cigarette vapingIf you or someone around your children smokes electronic cigarettes, listen up. That small bottle of cherry- or apple-flavored liquid nicotine might look like a treat to a child. But it can kill.

In recent weeks, the Illinois Poison Center said more children 6 and younger are going to the emergency room because they ingested liquid nicotine. E-cigarette use, also called vaping, continues to rise as some smokers see it as a safer choice than tobacco.

“Ingesting larger amounts of liquid nicotine can require emergency care,” said Erin Meyers, RN, Carle Emergency Department (ED) manager. 

“Like you, we’d much rather see your kids out playing and having fun this summer than in the ED.”

Follow these smart steps to protect the kids in your life from liquid nicotine poisoning.

  • Keep liquid nicotine and accessories out of sight and out of reach.
  • Tell children the liquid is dangerous and they should never ingest it.
  • Know where friends and family store liquid nicotine.
  • Dispose of bottles where children can’t grab them out of the trash.

“It’s hard to tell how much a child may have ingested,” Meyers said. “One milligram of liquid nicotine can cause symptoms. Ten milligrams can be fatal for a child—that’s less than one teaspoon.”

From the Illinois Poison Center website: If you suspect your child has been exposed to e-cigarettes, liquid nicotine or another potentially harmful substance, please call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Common symptoms of nicotine ingestion include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • drowsiness
  • weakness,
  • irritability
  • sweating
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure. 

More-serious symptoms can include seizures, severely slowed breathing and heart rate, coma and even death.

In May, the federal government decided the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah and pipe tobacco, among others.

“It will help us catch up with changes in the marketplace, put into place rules that protect our kids and give adults information they need to make informed decisions,” secretary of Healthcare and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a news release.

Still, the allure takes many forms.

“Other types of nicotine novelty products look like candy. Some are shaped like Tic Tacs and contain about 3 milligrams of nicotine each,” Meyers said.

“And because some novelty products do come in hard-to-open packages, adults not used to having children around might store them in other, easy-to-access containers. That means kids have easier access, too.

“Hear this: Leaving nicotine products out where children can reach them is simply not safe.”