New research suggests that if you are using e-cigarettes, make sure to keep the liquid mixture of nicotine and other compounds away from the reach of children.
Instead of tobacco, those who use e-cigarettes vaporize a liquid mixture of nicotine, glycerin and glycol ethers. The liquid form is flavored, which appeals to children.
But if ingested, a teaspoon of this "e-liquid" can be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause nausea and vomiting that require emergency care. Exposure to skin also can sicken children.
Last year, a toddler in New York died after ingesting liquid nicotine intended for use in an e-cigarette, the study pointed out.
However, the researchers found that many parents are not aware of the dangers of e-liquid to children.
"These are largely avoidable risks, but because e-cigarettes are relatively new, many people - including pediatricians - are not aware of the dangers or the steps that should be taken to protect children from them," said first author Jane Garbutt, professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
For the study, 658 parents and guardians at 15 pediatric clinics in the US completed surveys about their knowledge and use of e-cigarettes.
The researchers found that 36 percent of the e-cigarette users neither locked up e-liquid bottles nor used childproof caps.
E-liquid most commonly was stored in a drawer or cupboard (34 percent), a purse or bag (22 percent) or on an open counter (13 percent), the study showed.
"Three percent of the people in our study said a child of theirs had tried to drink the e-liquid," Garbutt said.
"The easiest way to lower risk is to store e-liquid out of the reach of children. Open counters and shelves, unlocked drawers, and purses and bags aren't safe storage places," Garbutt noted.
The research was published in the journal Academic Pediatrics.