Every year, a large number of children accidentally poison themselves by drinking household chemicals. Cleaning products and pesticides (Figure 1) represent the cause of ~15% of poisoning cases in children under the age of 6, according to the National Capital Poison Center.
Fig. 1: Many relatively common household products are deadly if ingested by humans.
To a child who is illiterate and unfamiliar with conventional warning markings (e.g., a skull), a deadly chemical might plausibly seem like an interesting beverage (Figure 2). Some poisonous substances, like antifreeze, even have an appealing sugary taste.
Fig. 2: If you find yourself asking “why would anyone, even a child, drink something that is so OBVIOUSLY poison,” consider the perplexity that you yourself would face if required to distinguish foreign-language-labeled energy drinks from automotive fluids. Transmission fluid, or energy drink? Who knows!
The idea is simple: to put a special “decoy” beverage into locations with deadly substances that a child (or pet!) might theoretically get into.
This “decoy” beverage is designed to cause vomiting (and a generally unpleasant experience), to discourage further sampling of the (actually poisonous) chemicals stored in the same area.
Additionally, this would inform the theoretically-paying-attention adults in a home that their “child-proof” cabinet locks had failed to work.
Since this “lure” beverage (Figure 3) would ideally be be the first substance consumed, it should be made to look as appealing as possible, with:
- A convenient easy-open cap
- A supplementary straw
- Colorful eye-catching images on the outside. Maybe even a cartoon mascot!
- A translucent container to show off the delicious liquid within
Obviously the container should also contain a description of the nature of the product, so that no one outside of the target demographic (i.e. the “about to drink a container of antifreeze” demographic) accidentally drinks it.
Fig. 3: The “decoy” container is designed to be as easy-to-drink and appealing as possible, since it has to be the first under-cabinet substance that is ingested. If it’s the second-most-appealing liquid, then it might as well not even be present.
Fig. 4: Here’s what an under-sink cabinet might look like with the new non-injurious “decoy” substance. Hopefully this will look more appealing than the rat poison or antifreeze!
Research would be needed to see if the PRO and CON listed below cancel each other out, or perhaps even result in more poison ingestion than before!
PROS: This might actually legitimately work, and would cost almost nothing to produce, since it is just “existing non-deadly emetic plus re-designed product label.”
CONS: The appealing container could attract a child to investigate the “cabinet of deadly chemicals” when they would previously have ignored it. This could lead to the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish!