Medical Professional Publications

Making Spray Bottles Safer for Kids

(From the November 2012 issue of Inside Nationwide Children's)

Check your cabinets. Chances are you’ll find spray bottles filled with household cleaning products. Most people think that spray bottles with a twistable nozzle are child-resistant. But, are they really? According to researchers at Nationwide Children’s, the answer is no. Not only are these spray bottle nozzles not truly child-resistant, but they are also a significant source for childhood poisonings.

Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, hopes to change this fact. She has partnered with design and engineering colleagues at The Ohio State University to develop a prototype for child-resistant spray bottles for household cleaning products or other products. If produced, it would provide an alternative to current child-resistant spray bottles while meeting U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for child-resistance in poison prevention.

Spray bottles are the most common type of dispenser used for household cleaning, lawn and garden products, air fresheners and automotive cleaning products. Despite the safeguards in their design, Dr. McKenzie says existing spray bottles for household cleaning-products are not truly child-resistant.

The prototype features a two-stage trigger mechanism in order for the spray mechanism to work. Similar to how a lighter works, both triggers must be pressed in order for the bottle to spray.  The two-stage trigger mechanism returns the spray bottle to a locked position after each use. The spray mechanism is designed to be extremely challenging for young children to operate, yet will allow adults comfortable use.

 "As a mother of one-year-old triplets, I know how challenging it can be to keep kids safe and keep household products secured. They want to get into everything,” says Dr. McKenzie. “It is my hope that our technology will help parents and reduce the number of children affected by household cleaning product-related injuries."

McKenzie LB, Ahir N, Stolz U, Nelson NG. Household cleaning product-related injuries treated in US emergency departments in 1990-2006. Pediatrics. 2010 Sep;126(3):509-16.

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