New campaign urges parents to take action to protect children from cleaning product injuries in the home
Families with toddlers across Liverpool are to be targeted in a pioneering campaign by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and The UK Cleaning Products Association (UKCPI) to protect children from the risks of household cleaning products.
A handy magnetic notepad featuring key safety advice to prevent accidental poisonings from everyday items will be handed out to 20,000 families across the city in a pilot scheme by national accident prevention charity RoSPA.
Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, children’s centres and nurseries will be distributing the useful resource, which will be a constant reminder in family kitchens, as part of the ‘Take action today, put them away’ educational campaign, funded by the industry’s trade body the UKCPI.
Due to their inquisitive nature, children under the age of five are most at risk of accidentally swallowing or getting household cleaning products into their eyes. Even products with a child resistant closure cannot guarantee safety – they reduce the risk by delaying access to the product. This is another reason why parents and carers are being encouraged to store cleaning products out of reach, out of sight and in a locked cupboard.
There were 43 children under-5 seen in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital’s A&E over two years from 2010-12 as a result of ingesting household cleaning products, latest figures acquired by RoSPA show.
Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “It doesn’t take long for tiny hands to get hold of a household cleaning product if they are not stored safely.
“Cleaning products are often kept under the sink or by the toilet, but we want parents to recognise the risk this can pose to their children. Child resistant containers will simply slow down a child’s access to the contents, so it is vitally important that parents and carers take simple steps of putting household products out of reach and out of sight in order to prevent unnecessary accidents.”
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.”
Dr Eileen Byrne, consultant in paediatric emergency medicine at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, welcomed the campaign. She said: “Household cleaning products are found in every home and it’s really important to remember that they could potentially cause significant harm to children. At Alder Hey, we see a number of children attending our emergency department with upset tummies or painful burns after swallowing household cleaning products or rubbing them into the eyes. Burns to the eyes are particularly dangerous and can in the most severe cases, cause permanent damage.
“These nasty injuries are avoidable by simply using and storing these products responsibly. I urge parents and carers to read the label on the back of household products and always keep them out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard. Don’t put your children at risk.”
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.