An important warning for e-cig users. There's an alarming rise in the number of nicotine poisonings here in Oklahoma, particularly in young children, after they're exposed to the dangerous liquid used inside e-cigarettes. Poison Control experts are calling it one of the most toxic substances they know.
As e-cigs have exploded in popularity in Oklahoma, so has the number of poisonings from the liquid nicotine inside the devices.
"Especially children getting into the liquid and the vaporizers they use to inhale the nicotine," said Oklahoma Poison Center Director Scott Schaeffer.
Last year Oklahoma Poison Control got 77 calls associated with liquid nicotine poisoning. That's up 600% from the year before.
The liquid that fills e-cig cartridges contains chemicals, flavor, and usually highly-concentrated nicotine. The problem usually comes when parents refill that liquid, either spilling it or leaving in where their child can get to it.
"Very often these liquids don't come in child-resistant containers," said Schaeffer. "They smell good to children, they're brightly colored, and they're very attractive to kids."
"We say on the labels all the time 'Keep out of reach of children and pets,' because that can be a concern," said E-Vapes OK store owner Courtney Smith. "It's definitely up to the parents to ensure that happens"
Smith says she educates all her customers on exactly what they're buying and how to safely store it. But it only takes a tiny amount of the vaping liquid to cause serious harm to a small child.
"We have had children with protracted, prolonged vomiting develop from it that has required IV fluid and observation in an emergency department," said Schaeffer.
Poison control warns even a small amount of concentrated nicotine could cause seizures, heart problems, even death. No child has died yet, but some believe it's only a matter of time.
So far this year, Oklahoma Poison Control has gotten 27 calls about e-liquid poisonings. All but 3 of them involved children.
Smith said, "As a parent myself, I make sure to tell my children this is not for them to touch. I keep in out of reach of them, and I make sure they don't have access to it."
If your child is exposed to this dangerous liquid, the first thing you want to do is wipe your child off, since nicotine can be absorbed through skin. Then call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. They'll help you determine whether you need to go to the emergency room.