Everything You Need to Know About Child-Resistant Caps

May 15, 2022
Posted in Packaging
May 15, 2022 Paul Green

Child-resistant caps are a life-saving invention found on most of today’s prescription and over-the-counter medications, cleaning chemicals, pesticides, and other toxic substances. For young parents, it feels like those tricky lids have been around forever, but they actually didn’t emerge until the late 1960s. What brought about the need for these preventative safety devices and why are they still so important today?

Who Invented Child-Resistant  Caps?

The year 1967 in Canada was a bleak time for parents and their children. Without any child-resistant packaging to safeguard adult medications, children were swallowing prescription medicines at an alarming rate. In Canada alone in this era, more than 100,000 child poisoning cases were reported per year, resulting in at least 100 deaths.

Dr. Henri Breault was a concerned father of two and a pediatrician in Canada at the time who decided he had finally had enough of the tragedy. Determined to do something to prevent child poisonings, he designed a protective device called the Palm-N’-Turn. This mechanism was groundbreaking and quickly took the world by storm, eventually reducing child poisonings by 91%. Today, Dr. Breault is credited for innovating the first child-resistant cap.

Child-Resistant Cap Laws in the United States

Around the same time in the United States, where child poisonings were happening just as frequently, US Congress passed a law called the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) of 1970. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was formed in 1972 “to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products”. They oversee the regulations for packaging dangerous household items. The act made it mandatory for industrial packagers to use the new child-resistant caps on all toxic chemicals, medicines, and other substances that could be deadly in the hands of a child.

As a result of this new law, poison-related child fatalities dropped by 90% nationwide.

When Is a Product Required to Have a Child-Resistant Cap?

Today, anything that is harmful when ingested — even if only in small doses — is required to have a child-resistant cap. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs, household chemicals, mouthwash, eye drops, nasal spray, insecticides, bleaches, and even vitamin supplements all fall under this umbrella.

How Do Child-Resistant Caps Work?

The CPSC has conducted testing on a variety of child-resistant  cap designs and found success in a number of them, including:

  • Pull rings: Remove the lid and peel back the protective layer using the pull ring.
  • Squeeze-and-pull bottles: Pinch the sides of the lid as you pull the lid away from the container.
  • Push screw caps: Push down on the lid and continue pushing down as you twist the cap to the left.
  • Flip-off caps with arrows: Line up the arrow on the lid with the arrow on the bottle and flip it up to remove the cap.
  • And other types also exist.

Most child-resistant lids are intuitive for their intended adult consumer to open, but if that’s not the case, there will usually be directions for opening the bottle listed on the cap or the bottle label. For example, push-and-twist caps often have the words “push down and turn” printed in an obvious place with arrows indicating which direction to twist the lid.

How Effective Are Child-Resistant  Caps?

Keep in mind that child-resistant caps are designed merely to slow children down if they attempt to open a hazardous container. If chemicals and pharmaceuticals were completely child-proof , they would prove very difficult, if not impossible, for senior citizens to open. Thankfully, child-resistant lids buy parents a little more time to catch their children in the act before they ingest something dangerous.

According to the PPPA, a child-resistant  cap is effective when “designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open within a reasonable time, and not difficult for normal adults to use properly.” By the time a child reaches kindergarten, they’ll likely be able to open most child-resistant cap designs without any problems.

Why You Need Child-Resistant Packaging for Your Products

First and foremost is to insure the safety of kids. Second, industrial packaging companies are more likely to stay out of court when they comply with the PPPA. If you can manage to protect your consumer with child protective devices, you’ll avoid costly lawsuits while protecting kids and your business in the long run.

Why Choose Child Related Research for Your Child-Resistant Package Testing?

For over 50 years, Child Related Research (CRR) has forged its reputation as the worldwide leader in testing the efficacy and safety of child-resistant and senior-friendly packaging with a unique focus on the best turnaround time and client service in the industry.

At CRR, we help companies globally like yours determine whether or not your packaging complies with the US and/or International standards for child resistant and senior friendly packaging. To discuss your CR package testing needs contact us today at www.crr.net or call us at 801-904-3893.

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