Northern Ireland children protected from cleaning product injuries in RoSPA campaign


Families in Northern Ireland are being urged by the Royal Society for the Prevention Accidents (RoSPA) to take action to protect their children from the risks of household cleaning products.

The latest phase of the Take Action Today, Put Them Away campaign, funded by the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association (UKCPI), is being launched tomorrow (Tuesday, June 27) at a meeting of local council home safety officers and the Public Health Agency (PHA).

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.

Northern Ireland’s Home Accident Prevention Strategy2015-25 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 handy magnetic notepad 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.

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.”

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.

Further information on the Take Action Today campaign can be found at For more details about the UKCPI, visit

The meeting of home safety officers takes place tomorrow at Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre, Lakeview Road, Craigavon, Co. Armagh.

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 policymakers, the public and the media, to inform public discussions about cleanliness, hygiene and sustainable cleaning.

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