Iowans who use laundry detergent “pods” are being warned to use extra caution with the products if there are kids in the house.

Curious children might squeeze the packets and get squirted in the face. Registered nurse Joan McVoy says if that blue goo hits them in the eye, you need to act quickly.

“What’s different about these laundry packets as opposed to liquid detergents is these are much more alkaline in nature and they really have a potential to cause a serious burn to the eye,” McVoy says. “The most important thing parents can do if this happens is to irrigate the eye and then they’re going to need to go to an emergency room.” Poison center hotlines in Iowa and elsewhere have been receiving a lot of traffic because of the laundry pods.

“Already in January, poison centers across the country have gotten close to 800 calls on laundry packets, last year, close to 12,000,” McVoy says. “These are things people have in their homes and if they have small children, they need to know exactly what to do if kids get into it.” The packets had been subject of warnings months ago as a child, mistaking the packets for candy, might pop them in their mouth. The new advisories are specifically about the packets being a threat to young eyes.

“They’re super-concentrated detergents and since they are more alkaline, they have a chance to penetrate quickly and they cause a lot of pain when children get it in their eyes,” McVoy says. “If the irrigation isn’t done immediately, they can cause a pretty bad chemical burn to the eye.”

For questions, call the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.