Father who nearly lost son to a Tide Pod reacts to ‘Tide Pod Challenge’
What teens need to know about dangerous social media challenge
Chris and Heidi World Slaydon know firsthand the dangers of swallowing a laundry detergent pod. They watched their little boy Blaze, who was 18 months old at the time, spend 10 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Cook Children’s after ingesting one he found on the floor. Blaze suffered a severe throat burn, infiltrated lungs and a blocked airway passage, causing him to spend more than a week on a breathing tube.
Blaze was a toddler when he put the pod in his mouth. He didn’t know any better.
The same can’t be said for the teens who are participating in the ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ on the Internet. Search YouTube and you’ll find plenty of videos of teens putting Tide Pods in their mouths, biting down and rupturing the packets. Some are even cooking them.
Chris Slaydon said when someone mentioned the challenge to him a couple of days ago, he rolled his eyes. Then he watched the videos and he simply couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“It’s ironic that you are asking me about this today. Yesterday, we took Blaze back to Cook Children’s for his checkup,” Chris said. “Blaze just turned 5, but he has to go back every 6 months. We learned yesterday he may have some long-term effects because he swallowed the laundry pod. He may have breathing issues for the rest of this life. I can’t believe the stupidity of these teenagers. We’ve all been teenagers and done something dangerous or stupid. But we are talking about ingesting poison. Eating poison … on purpose. And for what? Notoriety on a social media site? It just doesn’t compute.”
Chris worries the impact the videos will have on younger children who may see them and want to participate. He wishes he had the opportunity to talk to the people posting the videos.
“I would pull out my son’s X-rays and scans and show them what actually happens,” Chris said. “Some of them are getting lucky, or at least they think they are. They don’t know the long-term effects. We still don’t know if my son, who is really active, will be able to run track or how active he can be. I hope he grows out of it, but we may not know for another 10 years. Blaze had that opportunity stolen from him because he didn’t know better. The people doing this challenge, many of them are adults, they know better. I wish I could really show them what this has done to our son and many other sons and daughters. It’s just not good.”
In 2017, poison centers received reports of 10,570 exposures to highly concentrated packets of laundry detergents by children 5 and younger.
Corwin Warmink, M.D., medical director of the Emergency Department at Cook Children’s, says children under school age are particularly at risk due to the packaging of the pods looking like candy, so ingestion is more likely. Smaller children also are more at risk for severe complications.
The most common effects are vomiting, coughing, choking, fatigue or drowsiness and eye irritation/pain. But it can be much more serious.
“Deaths have occurred and these exposures can be quite severe, causing respiratory depression and failure,” Dr. Warmink said. “The easiest solution is to not keep any such detergent in the house, if you have children… especially under age 6. If you choose to use them, even after all the warnings, keep them in an absolutely child-proof, high cabinet. Although, I’m not sure if there is such a thing”
Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you suspect a child has come in contact with this detergent.