The warning comes after the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) revealed that more than 28,000 children each year in the UK are treated for accidental ingestion of items such as medicines, household products and cosmetics, and suspected poisoning is one of the most common reasons for young children to be taken to A&E departments.
Examples of the most common substances causing accidental poisonings seen at hospital include medications such as over the counter pain relief, or prescription medications, but there have also been incidents involving laundry capsules, plug-in air fresheners, reed diffusers and cleaning products such as bleach.
Detective Inspector Michelle Lack, of Bedfordshire Police's Public Protection Unit, said: “With lockdown easing and school holidays well underway, more children are now able to visit family and friends who may not be as aware of child safety as their own parents or guardians.
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“Sadly, young ones are prone to putting things into their mouths, and many harmful objects in the household resemble drinks, sweets or toys.
“As well as cleaning products and medicines, other common items around the home and left within the reach of children, like bath products, cigarettes or vape liquids, may be overlooked by an adult and are extremely harmful when ingested by children.
“Please be mindful of potential poisonous hazards around the home and garden, and safeguard the children in your care.”
Dr Anne Ingram, Consultant Paediatrician at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We do see a number of cases in our A&E of children swallowing harmful substances and we would advise parents to bring the substance with them if at possible because that will help in a speedy diagnosis and treatment.”
Bedfordshire Police is offering the following advice:
- Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard
- Wherever possible, buy products in child resistant containers
- Always store chemicals in their original containers
- Dispose of unwanted medicines and chemicals safely
- Avoid plants with poisonous leaves or berries, or those that can irritate the skin.
If you think a child has swallowed a harmful substance, seek immediate medical assistance, and call 999.