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The Case of the Wrong Container

Posted: March 18th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Today’s case study involves poisoning exposures that occurred because a potentially harmful substance was stored in the wrong container.  One of the IPC’s core poison prevention messages is always store chemicals, cleaning products, and medications in their original containers.  There are good reasons for this:

  1. The usage directions are always with the product
  2. The substance is in a child-resistant container when appropriate
  3. Everyone knows exactly what the substance is and what it is meant to be used for

Here are some real cases.  In sharing these, we hope it will prevent further cases of the wrong container.

  • A young adult stored windshield washer fluid in a Gatorade Arctic Ice bottle to keep in his Jeep, because the original gallon-sized container took up too much room in the back seat.  After he and a group of his friends finished playing basketball on hot summer day, one of the friends took a few swigs out of the bottle, thinking it really was Gatorade.  It only takes a few ounces of concentrated methanol-containing windshield washer fluid to cause blindness or death if ingested. (Fortunately for the basketball player, he called the IPC immediately, we instructed him to go to the nearest hospital, and then we worked with the treating physician to ensure he received the antidote—which was fully effective and he had no lasting effects).

gatorade ww fluid

  • A middle-aged man put his Viagra 50mg tablets into an Aleve bottle for storage.  His teenage daughter took two for her headache thinking they were actually Aleve.

aleve tab viagra pill     untitled

  • An adult took a beer from a hotel minibar and realized after one drink that it was not beer…it was urine.  Someone had drunk the beer and then “refilled” it, so they would not be charged.


  • While visiting grandma, a new mother made up a bottle for her 2 month old, using powdered formula and a jug of nursery water she found under the sink.  As soon as she started feeding the baby, he began to cry, cough and gasp.  Turns out the jug did NOT contain water—the grandmother had filled it with vodka to hide it from her husband.

water jug vodka

  • A sick child was inadvertently given lamp oil in her sippy cup—someone had stored lamp oil in a Pedialyte bottle and placed the bottle next to the refrigerator.  Lamp oil is extremely dangerous when ingested by children, and we have blogged about it several times.

lamp oil pedialyte

Hopefully these tales of wrong-container horror will convince you to always keep products in their original container, even if it is less convenient or the bottle takes up too much space!  As always, if you do come into contact with a potentially harmful substance for any reason, call our experts at 1-800-222-1222 any time of day or night and we can help.


PS: March is Illinois Poison Prevention Month!  Click here for a complimentary packet (sticker, magnet, and poisoning first aid tips).

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Related posts:

  1. Top 5 Things You Didn’t Think Could be Poisonous to Children
  2. The Case of the Tube Switcheroo
  3. The Case of the Double Dose
  4. There was only a little bit of windshield washer fluid left in the jug so. . .
  5. Top 10 Drug and Poison Safety Tips

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