Five Minutes to Open: Child-resistant Packages

As the proud auntie of several nieces and nephews ranging in age from 6 years old to six months old, I’ve come to realize that every day items can be hazardous in the life of a child. Whether it is a misplaced chair in the running path of the kids or fingers accidentally slammed in a door, bumps and bruises are inevitable. 

Parents can’t always prevent accidents from happening, but the minor scrapes kids encounter will heal and disappear without remembering how they came to be in the first place. Unfortunately, other potential dangers often lurk in the home including prescription and non-prescription medicines. Should those items fall into the hands of children, the consequences can be deadly. 

Take a look at the numbers. The Poison Control Center receives over 500,000 calls each year related to children under 5-years-old gaining access to medications. That is the equivalent of one call every minute, every day.

In a recent article on NPR, “More Children Poisoned By Parents’ Prescription Drugs,” Nancy Shute reported that a study completed by the Centers for Disease Control showed a 10 percent increase in the number of adults taking one or more prescription drugs.

With more adults taking prescription drugs, the risk of child poisonings increases. Children are often exposed to medicines through various situations including a pill unnoticeably falling to the floor, a cover improperly placed back on the container, or a container left out on a table or counter.

While the type of packaging does not always contribute to such accidents it is still essential to develop child-resistant packaging to help prevent the accidental consumption of medicines by children.

Various tests must be completed on packaging in order to determine if it is child-resistance as well as the adult-use-effectiveness. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, tests were completed with pairs of children ages 42 to 51 months old who were given five minutes to open a package. If they were unable to open the package, they then were given a demonstration and another five minutes to attempt to open the package. If not more than 20 percent of the 200 children tested could open the package, it would be considered child-resistant.

While processors must be sure the packaging is child-resistant, they must also be sure it has adult-use-effectiveness. Children can be at risk if seniors are unable to properly use the packaging. Therefore, it is essential that seniors are able to use the packaging.

Child-resistant packaging options include blister, bubble, foil, paper or plastic pouch packages

The Environmental Protection Agency offers one example of a child-resistant packaging option. Colbert Packaging Corporation has a semi-rigid blister non-reclosable package with a Valeron/cardboard tear-resistant cover over the front of the card.

Users are required to complete three steps in order to obtain the pill, and as a result, the package is child-resistant. To remove the pill, users must tear the starting zipper, turn the dial until the blister aligns vertically with the arrows and then push the blister until the medication releases through the back side.

While my family takes every precaution to keep medicines properly stored, there is always the risk of being in an unknown environment where others may not handle their medicines as carefully. With the availability of such packages as the three steps or blister packaging I know my nieces and nephews would be unable to open it. By utilizing such complex packaging options, processors and parents alike can prevent children from dangerously consuming medications.

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