Why childproof is actually adult proof

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Have you ever noticed that products that come with so-called childproof tamper resistant packages are in reality adult proof or impossible to open package?

I remember seeing a television expose on childproof tamper resistant prescription bottles from several well-known drug store outlets. Most of the bottles were difficult to impossible to be opened by many adults, but when put in the hands of a number of children ranging in age from 2 to 6 years old, none of the child were unable to open the prescription bottles. Admittedly, a couple of the younger ones took a little longer, but all of the children figured out how to open the so-called child resistant bottles. I found that very interesting considering that as I get older, and my hands are not what they used to be, I find that many of these childproof tamper resistant packages only make it harder for me to open them. Some times, I run into packaging that absolutely stumps me on how to open or operate them and of course, the manufacture did not have the foresight to put instructions on the package on how to open it or to operate a product removal mechanism. In addition, mind you, I am not stupid by any means. I used to work in Research and Development creating new and useful technological products. However, I must admit that like more human beings, I have developed many habits over the years and am used to doing things a certain way or thinking in a certain way.

Case in point, I asked my wife this morning for some hand lotion. The hand lotion comes in a 16 fluid once white bottle and a dispensing pump that you push down to get the lotion out of the bottle and into your hands. We have all seen and used bottles like this so I was not expecting any surprises or difficulties. Boy was I wrong to make that assumption. When I pressed down on the plunger to get the hand lotion out of the bottle and into my hands, I quickly realized that I could not push down on the plunger. At first I thought that the lotion had dried up in the pump mechanism as sometimes can happen if you do not dispense the product for a long period. I have found out in the past that sometimes if you press down harder that the dried lotion is forced out. That is if there is not too much of the dried stuff in the pump mechanism. Therefore, I pressed down harder, but I still could not make it budge. Then I decided that maybe there was some kind of locking mechanism that only allowed the pump mechanism to be depressed once the pump head is aligned a certain way to the bottle. I tried aligning the pump head perpendicular to the front and back of the bottle, but to no avail. Now I was really stumped so I asked my wife to try it. Since she bought it, I thought that maybe she knew something that I did not. This happens from time to time and I have never said that I know everything, far from it in fact. Well she took the bottle from me and did exactly the same thing that I did with the same results. She did not know anymore than I did about how to make this bottle pump work. At this point, in frustration, I just removed the cap and pump by unscrewing them. Then I poured some of the hand lotion out into my hands. Actually, I had to squeeze the bottle, because the lotion was so thick, almost like toothpaste, but I finally got the lotion out. Then my wife told my son, who is 33 and still living at home, about the problem that we were both having with this package. My son, who can be a smart ass at times, just picked up the bottle, pressed down on the pump, and got hand lotion to come out. My wife and I were dumbfounded and asked how he did that. After making a couple of smart-ass remarks about my intelligence (he does this all the time in jest, not seriously), he explained that you have to turn the pump nozzle parallel to bottle or to the left or right side of the bottle. He said that this was a new safety mechanism that they built into the product packaging, and sure enough, that is what they did. When you turn the pump head around, you can feel four detent positions where the pump head will stop at the positions of left, back, right, and front. When the pump head is positioned at the left or right detent positions, you can press the pump and dispense hand lotion. When it is in the front or back detent positions, you cannot press the pump at all. I must admit that I do not fully understand the logic of doing this unless it is a way to prevent the lotion from being dispensed by accident. This certainly is not going to stop a child from dispensing the hand lotion and I cannot imagine why you would need to. Hand lotion is not something that I could consider being a danger to a child, and of course, try as I might, I could not find anything on the bottle to explain the operation of the dispensing pump, or why it is set up this way. When I asked my son how he managed to figure it out, he told me that he just played around with it for about 5 minutes when he discovered, just by accident, that you have to have the pump head pointing to the left or right parallel to the front of the bottle.

Way to go Mister Manufacturing Genius! Did you ever try this new idea out on the general public to make sure that you we not introducing a problem into your product? For what it’s worth, this product was purchased from Wal-Mart and is one of the in house products under the product name EQUATE. I wonder are there any other products that use the same kind of pump dispenser mechanism. If you know of any or if you have run into similar product situations, let me know.

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2 responses

1 04 2012

Thank you for exposing how stupid company’s can be I just bougt some lotion today about 1pm after 12 hours And a nap I finally woke up and. Googled how to use the plunger..if it wasn’t for you I would’ve just threw away the top …my point is why would any kid young enough to make a mess with lotion have any intrest. In the bottle in he firsrt place

3 04 2012

You are so welcome George. This is only one of the many things that I’ve run into lately regarding what I consider poor engineering in products.

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