Brought to You by the Letters C, R, and F
Even after doing this for 25 years, I still enjoy observing child resistance/senior friendly (CR/SF) package testing. I have learned so much from observation that I always suggest my clients do so as well. Over the years, both kids as well as seniors have changed dramatically. When I first started in this industry, many children used brute force to open a package. Now, children’s dexterity has shifted. As young children embraced technology—like video games, tablets, and even phones—they have gained better small motor mobility in their hands. Believe it or not, I have had children as young as three read me packaging directions with no issue! As children have evolved, packaging design has had to do the same.
Testing for Both Child Resistance (CR) and Senior Friendly (SF)
Contrary to common belief, there is no such thing as a child-proof package. Your packaging goal is always to delay the time it takes a child to get into its contents. Given enough time children will eventually breach most packages if they have the will.
CR and SF testing often go hand in hand. You can test for these separately, but if you want a final protocol report, you must complete both to ensure your package is both safe as well as user effective. It is recommended when conducting a CR/SF protocol test that an accredited testing site be used. For the child portion of the test 50 children both male and female between the age of 42 to 51 months old, or 3.5 to 4.25 years of age. For SF testing, we observe 100 seniors age 50 to 70 to make sure they can effectively open the same packaging. If you pass one test but not the other, your package will not meet the requirements of the protocol and thus you will have to go back and reevaluate the package.
What is an F Rating?
In this instance, F stands for failure rating. An F rating can be 1 through 8, with F=1 being the most stringent or safest package designation. An F rating is defined as the number of doses that can produce serious personal injury or illness to a 25 lb. child. The F rating given to a package must be based on the individual dosage’s toxicity level.
The Testing Environment
For CR testing, the goal is to make sure a child cannot get into the number of doses determined within a 10-minute window. We simulate this in a couple of different stages. With CR testing, the environment in which we test is very important. Children are tested in a location they are familiar with, such as their daycare facility, school, or church. Test administrators are dressed in plain, everyday clothing. Since most accidents happen at home, it is important that children feel as comfortable as possible. Children are also tested in pairs of two to simulate real life, where children tend to get into trouble more often when they have a partner in crime.
For CR testing, children are handed the package and asked by the test administrator to open the packaging, with no instructions given. After five (5) minutes, the instructor will demonstrate how to open the packaging. This simulates a child watching their mom, dad, or caregiver opening a package as a part of their daily routine. They are shown visually how the package is opened; no verbal instructions are given. The child then receives the package again to see if they can replicate what they observed in order to open the package. After another five (5) minutes, they are instructed “you can use your teeth if you want”. If after the second five (5) minutes they don’t breech the package, then the packaging passes the test.
As children and packaging continue to evolve, CR testing becomes more and more important. Our industry needs to continue the conversation and education around CR testing to ensure companies understand its value—both for protecting children and their company.