Last month, a toddler drank citronella torch oil while out camping with his family. A few hours later, he died at a local hospital. Last year, an 84-year-old woman died after a family member poured torch fuel into a glass. She drank it, thinking it was apple juice. An 8-year-old girl has permanent lung damage after making the same mistake.
Whatever you call it - torch fuel, tiki oil, bug lamps - fuel oil can be fatal if swallowed. Some people who drank it but didn't die were sick for prolonged periods of time. These products often look like apple juice, which is why it is easy to make a mistake. The liquid is the same color, the bottles are of similar heights, and the caps look alike. And, when poured out of their bottles, it's impossible to tell the difference. If swallowed, torch fuel can easily slide down into the lungs instead of going into the stomach. This causes pneumonia and also prevents the lungs from absorbing oxygen. Even small amounts in the lungs can be life-threatening or fatal. If you suspect that someone has swallowed, handled, or breathed in a poison, call the Poison Center right away. The 24-hour number is 1-800-222-1222. The experts that answer your call will tell you exactly what to do.