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“Take Action Today Put Them Away” campaign to reduce accidental poisoning to under-fives

5th March 2019

A guest blog by Ashley Martin, Public Health Project Manager for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), on a major new roll-out of a successful campaign that is set to make homes safer by reducing the risk of accidental poisoning among children.

Ashley Martin
Public Health Project Manager, RoSPA

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.

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 that 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 that 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.

One mum is particularly delighted by the project, saying: “It is so important for parents to take note of these safety messages as it only takes a moment for a child to grab a cleaning product. I left a liquid laundry capsule in the washing machine drum, ready for the next wash, and Zachary picked it up and squeezed it in both of his eyes. I’ve never heard him scream like it and I hope I never will again.”

Take Action Today launch in Northern Ireland

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. So we need your help. The programme is designed to support the work that health visitors already do in supporting families by providing materials, free of charge, that can help you raise this issue during scheduled visits and contacts. The programme is scheduled to roll out across the North West during 2019. To find out more about how you can become involved please contact me (amartin@rospa.com).

Even if you are not based in the North West but are interested in helping to deliver a programme in your area, please get in touch. We have some opportunities for additional programmes in other parts of the country over this year.

Ashley Martin, Public Health Project Manager, RoSPA

amartin@rospa.com