Parents with toddlers across Norfolk are being urged to take action today to protect their children from the risks of household cleaning products in a new far-reaching campaign to reduce the number of accidental child poisonings.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is expanding its Take action today, put them away educational campaign into Norfolk – a scheme funded by the industry’s trade body, the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association (UKCPI).
Around 40,000 families are to receive a free magnetic notepad featuring important safety advice to prevent children suffering an accidental poisoning in the home from everyday items. It reminds them to store cleaning products out of the reach and sight of children, and in a locked cupboard.
Latest figures acquired by RoSPA show that 100 children under the age of 5 were admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Foundation Trust as a result of accidental poisoning over a four year period (2012-14) - 87 via the A&E and the remaining 13 referred by GPs.
RoSPA and the UKCPI have teamed up with medical staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, trading standards officers and children’s centres, who will talk to parents about the issue and give out the magnetic notepads from this week.
Due to their inquisitive nature, children under the age of five are most at risk of accidentally swallowing or getting household cleaning products, like liquid laundry capsules, into their eyes. Even products with a child resistant closure cannot guarantee safety – they only reduce the risk by delaying access to the product.
Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “We want families across Norfolk to be aware that it doesn’t take long for tiny hands to get hold of a household cleaning product if they are not kept out of sight and reach.
“Cleaning products are often stored under the sink or by the toilet, but it’s important to realise that child resistant containers will simply slow down a child’s access to the contents it will not prevent them getting at the substances in the container. It is vitally important that parents and carers take steps to reduce the risk of an unnecessary accident.”
Philip Malpass of the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association said: “Cleaning products are designed to be safe to use and to provide the clean and hygienic home we often take for granted today. The accidents we see involving young children and cleaning products are avoidable and whilst the severity of the injuries are generally low, we hope that this campaign will remind parents to follow the usage instructions on the packaging, and in so doing, avoid unnecessary accidents.”
Nikki Smart, senior sister paediatric lead at Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, said: “The Emergency Department is always keen to provide information for families on a variety of topics and would very much like to help build awareness of the dangers of children ingesting household products.
“We welcome RoSPA’s awareness and prevention campaign and will devote our monthly health prevention board to information regarding products to be particularly aware of.”
Take action today, put them away advice to parents includes:
- Store household cleaning products out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard
- Always store chemicals in their original containers
- Never pierce or break laundry capsules or tablets
- Always close the lid of any product
- In the event of an incident, follow advice on the product pack and seek medical attention.
UKCPI is the leading trade association representing UK producers of cleaning and hygiene products from household soaps, washing powders, liquids, disinfectants, air care and polishes to the professional cleaning and hygiene products used in industrial and institutional applications.
It provides advice and guidance to manufacturers, distributors and users of cleaning and hygiene products. UKCPI also works in partnership with policy makers, the public and the media, to inform public discussions about cleanliness, hygiene and sustainable cleaning.