A campaign has been launched to encourage parents to lock away cleaning products after West Norfolk has the highest rate of accidental childhood poisonings in the county.
Staff at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital have treated 100 children under the age of five for accidental poisoning between 2012 and 2014 after youngsters have swallowed cleaning products.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has expanded its Take Action Today, Put Them Away educational campaign into this area after seeing the hospital’s statistics.
Staff from the society were in the hospital on Wednesday to encourage parents to lock away products like the colourful liquid laundry tablets.Youngsters either put the tablets in their mouths or squirt the contents into their eyes.
Public health adviser Sheila Merrill said: “If you watch children everything they get hold of goes into their mouths. They are very inquisitive by nature and are at risk of swallowing anything that goes into their mouths.
“Liquid laundry tablets attract children as they are squishy. These tablets are designed to dissolve in contact with moisture.
“If one breaks open in a child’s mouth it is so easy to ingest the liquid.
“They can cause sickness and cause the children to have their stomach pumped.
“We are encouraging parents to take action of locking household poisons away. Put them in a high cupboard where children can’t reach or lock them up.”
The team was giving talks and handing out advisory material during sessions in the Gayton Road hospital’s ResBite canteen on Wednesday.
Parents were warned not to decant products into different containers or to pierce or break up capsules or tablets along with ensuring the lid is on correctly.
Mrs Merrill said: “It is 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.”
Staff at the hospital welcomed the campaign.
Between 2012 and 2014, the hospital treated 87 childhood accidental poisonings via A&E while 13 youngsters were referred to the Gayton Road site by their GP.
Nikki Smart, senior sister paediatric lead, 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.”
The campaign, which was been running in Liverpool and Birmingham, is supported by the industry.
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.”
Nationally, more than 28,000 children receive treatment for poisoning, or suspected poisoning accidents every year.
In 2013, a toddler from Glasgow ended up in intensive care after biting into a liquid laundry tablet.