Safety experts agree that parental education is important, but it won't eliminate the problem.
"Stuff happens, even to well-meaning parents who are on top of things," Dr. Quinlan said. "We now realize that the way to protect kids is to make their world safer – and they way you do that is by putting hazardous substances in child-resistant packaging."
Jill Koziol, a mother of two, considers herself a well-educated and cautious parent. Koziol started using laundry packets when the family moved from California to an apartment in New York City and had to go downstairs to do the laundry. The laundry detergent box was always stored high up in a closet, she said.
Last September, as she was headed out the door, Koziol put a tall laundry basket – with a detergent packet on top – on the floor. She turned to help her two-year with a toy and in an instant her 8-month old, Cate, crawled over to the basket, pulled herself up and put the packet in her mouth.
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"I heard a gag as she bit into the detergent package," Koziol remembered.
Koziol grabbed little Cate, washed out her mouth with water, called poison control and eventually took her daughter to the emergency room. Within an hour, Cate had breathing problems and needed to be intubated. She spent the next few days in pediatric intensive care.
Koziol is now on a mission to get safety packaging on these products.
"I completely take responsibility for the fact that my daughter had access to the packet for that moment. I will be kicking myself for the rest of my life," Koziol told TODAY. "I'm not trying to get these taken off the market and I'm not trying to abdicate parental responsibility to the manufacturers. But in this case, there is more that can be done. The numbers are just too high for this to be about negligent parenting."