Families in Lincolnshire and Northern Ireland are being urged to keep household cleaning products out of children’s reach by UKCPI and the Royal Society for the Prevention Accidents (RoSPA).
The latest phase of the Take Action Today, Put Them Away campaign, funded by the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association (UKCPI) and promoted by RoSPA, has reached two new regions where safety education is a priority. In June there was a launch in Northern Ireland at a meeting of local council home safety officers and the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Craigavon, Co. Armagh and in July there was an event at Central Children’s Centre, Lincoln.
From left: Ashley Martin, Charlene Piggott, Catherine Lynch, Hilary Johnston, Aoife McAteer, Eileen Maguire.
This follows the scheme’s success in Birmingham, Liverpool, King’s Lynn, Nottingham, Newcastle and Bradford, where 240,000 families have been helped to prevent poisoning and eye injuries.
Across Lincolnshire, an average of about 240 children under-5 were admitted to hospital as a result of poisoning between 2011-15. This is higher than the average for England and the second highest figure in the East Midlands region. These more serious cases represent the tip of the iceberg. Many more will have required treatment at accident and emergency departments or other services. Under-5s account for more than three-quarters of admissions for poisonings to under 14s, and 60 per cent of these are aged between 2-4.
Northern Ireland’s Home Accident Prevention Strategy 2015-25 has identified poisoning as a major priority. Research carried out by the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children showed that ingestion of liquid detergent capsules accounted for 14.5 per cent of all non-medicinal ingestions in emergency departments, with two to three-year-olds being the most common age group affected. Two-thirds of these accidents happened during unsupervised play.
Data checks carried out by Northern Ireland’s home safety officers showed that 40 per cent did not store medication, alcohol and chemicals safely out of sight and reach of children in the kitchen, and 32 per cent did not store medicines, cleaning chemicals and cosmetics out of sight and reach of children in the bathroom.
As part of the campaign, a magnetic notepad which doubles as a handy shopping list featuring key safety advice will be handed out to at least 40,000 families by home safety officers, public health nurses, health visitors, children’s centres and parent and toddler groups.
In addition families are guided through areas of risk and safety advice in their homes.
Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “The notepad acts as a constant reminder in family kitchens to store cleaning products out of reach, out of sight and in a locked cupboard.
“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.”
Philip Malpass, from the industry’s trade body, the UKCPI, 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 while 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.”
Hilary Johnston, health and social wellbeing improvement manager, Public Health Agency, said: “It is impossible to watch over our children 24 hours a day, so we must take steps to make the home environment safe. We are delighted to be involved in this campaign which we hope will help prevent accidents like this occurring in Northern Ireland.”
Gina Blundell, accident prevention pathway lead for Lincolnshire Community Health Services, said: “We cannot underestimate the damage that can be done to young children from poisons in the home, which can include rashes, chemical burns, breathing problems, and eye damage. Lincolnshire Community Health Services and Lincolnshire County Council have teamed up with RoSPA to remind families of some simple rules to prevent these injuries, including keeping household cleaning products and medications out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard. Parents often report being taken by surprise by their child’s development so we advise taking safety measures as soon as possible And before your child starts to crawl.
“Also supervision of children is vital, and so try to avoid being distracted by mobile phones, especially when using cleaning products or any other toxic chemicals.”
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.