BALTIMORE - Detergent pods have been big trouble for families across the country. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about the dangers of children getting a hold of them and ingesting them.
The Lankford family in Baltimore found Tide Pods easy to use and convenient. Then, they had the scare of their life.
"We were just terrified. It was easily the worst night of my life," Stephanie Lankford said.
Stephanie and her husband Shad couldn't believe the pods that made their laundry easier poisoned their 2-year-old son Colin.
"My son Brandon came upstairs, and he ripped open the shower curtain and said, 'Daddy, Colin ate poison,'" Shad Lankford said. "As soon as I ran around the corner, my son Colin was at the bottom of the stairs, and he was choking. He was not breathing. He was holding his throat. I was stuffing my finger in his mouth and I ran him up to the shower, his face was all red and was being burned and he gagged up in the shower. He spit up and I thought it's all good."
Lankford called his wife Stephanie to come home and when she did, she called poison control. Officials warned her things were about to get bad, and they were right. By the time they got to the hospital, Colin was barely breathing.
After five days in ICU, Colin was allowed to return home. Now, the Lankfords want to warn others.
"I felt like I failed him. I felt like my one job, I failed. I failed the most important thing I have," Stephanie said as she fought back tears.
What happened to the Lankfords happens to thousands of children. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, more than 6,200 kids under the age of 5 were taken to hospitals from trying to eat detergent pods last year.
"The problem with these little pods is that they are very concentrated, so the detergent is a smaller amount but more concentrated. If they take it, if they chew it, take off a piece, bite into it, they get a concentrated dose of the detergent," says Dr. Kate Cronan from Nemours / Alfred I. duPont Hospital For Children.
WMAR-TV contacted Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Tide. P&G noted they recently partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics to educate parents and doctors about safety. They also changed their packaging so it looks less like candy and it's harder for small hands to get into.
Despite the changes, the calls to Poison Control and the trips to emergency rooms for small children have not slowed. That's why Stephanie Lankford felt so passionate about speaking out.
"I just want people to look and think again. Keep things up high," she said. "You just never know. I would have never thought in a million years this could have happened to us."