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The Childproof Container


The next time you find yourself swearing at a bottle of aspirin that just won’t open, you’ll know who to thank. Coming up– the origins of the childproof container.


The year was 1936, and Henri Breault of Ontario, Canada, had just become Doctor Henri Breault, M.D.

He began working as a doctor specializing in pediatrics at the hospital in Windsdor, Ontario, just across the Detroit River from the state of Michigan. By 1957 he became the Chief of Pediatrics and Director of the hospital’s new Poison Control Centre.

It was in this position that he witnessed 1000 cases of child poisonings every year. Kids poisoned by any number of household products, like aspirin, that they had gotten into.

While most of the cases weren’t fatal, they were almost all preventable.

Breault began an intense effort to educate the public on keeping medicine, cleaning supplies, and other potentially poisonous materials out of the reach of their young ones. But it didn’t help. The number of cases coming in each year stayed the same.

So he took matters into his own hands. Teaming up with local pharmacists and doctors, he began pursuing his goal of “child-proof” containers– containers that couldn’t just be opened up by anything with thumbs and half a developed brain.

Child Proof Pill BottleThe most successful attempt design, known as the “Palm N Turn,” came from a man named Peter Hedgewick in 1967.

The design was widely adopted in the Windsor area and child poisonings immediately dropped by 91%!

With Breault’s help, the safety cap became mandatory in Ontario by 1974.

Today, Child-resistant packaging, as it’s known is required by law for prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, pesticides, and household cleaners.

Dr. Henri Breault exemplifies one of our Business Axioms for Entrepreneurs:

Solve a problem within your profession.

Childproof containers. Now Why Didn’t I Think of That?

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