Household cleaning products

Take Action Today, Put Them Away

A programme to prevent poisoning from household products

What is the problem?

Age of poisoned patients as reported in telephone enquiries to the NPIS in 2015/16

Many parents and health visitors will be all too aware of the injury, distress and misery that results from a child ingesting a household cleaning product or medication. Many thousands of children end up in hospital each year because of one of these incidents. Due to their inquisitive nature, children under five-years-old are most at risk, with the peak for these type of incidents being at two to three years of age. In fact poisoning is number three in the five largest causes of accidents-related hospital admissions for children under the age of five.

  • Most accidental poisoning happens to children younger than five years old, with children aged one to three years being most at risk
  • On average 15 under fives are admitted to hospital each day due to suspected poisoning
  • Children from the poorest families are three times more likely to be admitted to hospital due to an accident, including accidental poisoning.

Why young children are more likely to be poisoned?

Common household agents

  • Exploring is part of growing up but young children have little concept of potential dangers
  • They are inquisitive and will often put things in their mouth to further explore their texture and taste
  • Part of growing up is to watch and copy what others do, unfortunately this includes copying using potentially dangerous things like household products and medication
  • Small children may mistake liquid capsule style dishwasher and washing machine detergents for toys or sweets. These are not only a danger in relation to ingestion but can also cause serious irritation to the eyes which can result in long term damage.

How can accidents with household cleaning products be prevented?

  • Closely supervise children in and around the home
  • Keep household chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard. Remember this also applies to the garage and shed
  • Always store household cleaning chemicals in their original containers
  • Replace lids and put all products away immediately after use
  • Dispose of unwanted household cleaning products safely
  • Store household cleaning products in a different place from food and medicine
  • Use household cleaning products according to label directions
  • Mixing household products can cause dangerous gases to form.

For more information on how to prevent poisoning accidents including those caused by medication, plants and household products, download the factsheet here.

Take Action Today – The story so far

Over the last five years RoSPA has been delighted to be working with the UK Cleaning Products Industry (UKCPI) to deliver the Take Action Today Put Them Away campaign to reduce accidental poisoning to under-fives, with targeted campaigns in 12 areas across the UK. Around 400,000 families have benefitted from receiving safety advice in the form of a handy magnetic fridge pad which gives them clear advice on how to prevent poisoning in their homes, as well as being a great conversation starter for health visitors and other professionals to use in raising the subject. The pads are accompanied by factsheets, checklists and briefing notes which help to ensure consistent and clear messages reach as many families in the target area as possible.

The results are exciting. Although it hasn’t been possible to track A&E data in all areas where the campaign has been delivered, early pilot sites in Birmingham and Liverpool showed a significant drop in incidences reported by hospitals following the programme. Equally important, family surveys have shown a significant change in the way families store products following the campaign, and over 80% of respondents indicated that they would pass on the safety messages to their friends and family.

To find out more about the results of the programme so far you can read the evaluation document.

Case Studies

Gemma Duke

"I've never heard him scream like it and I hope I never will again."

Read Gemma's story

Roxanne Tomkinson

"It was one of the scariest experiences of my life."

Read Roxanne's story

Growing the programme across the North West

RoSPA has now been given the opportunity to work with Fairy non-bio to spread the Take Action Today programme right across the North West region. This is a major opportunity to raise awareness of the need to keep children safe from accidental poisoning and eye injury, and we are keen to work with local health visitor services to make sure that we reach as many families as possible. The programme is designed to support the work that health visitors and other local partners already do in supporting families by providing materials, free of charge, that can help to raise this issue during scheduled visits and contacts. The programme is scheduled to roll out across the North West during 2019.

Interested in becoming a partner with RoSPA to deliver a local programme?

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North West

Find out more about Take Action Today in the North West and how you can get involved

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Not in the North West?

Find out more about Take Action Today in other parts of the country and how you can get involved

 

Find out more

Liquid Laundry Capsules - Find out more about safety with liquid laundry capsules.

View our videos on safety with household cleaning products:

Keep caps from kids

A short video explaining how you can protect your kids in the home

Poisons children find at home

Produced by Dr Nicola Ubayasiri from Nottingham University Hospial's Paediatric Emergency Department


Contact Us

Public Health
+44 (0)121 248 2107
publichealth@rospa.com
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