With almost 2500 children admitted to hospital every year following poisonings, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is reminding parents and carers to store chemical products safely.
A new report analysing calls to the NSW Poisons Information Centre (Australia 13 11 26) shows that children of different ages face a range of chemical dangers around the home.
Common child poisoning hazards according to age
Parents and carers of infants are most likely to seek medical advice for accidents involving:
- hand sanitiser
- baby bottle cleaner
- eucalyptus oil
- items accessed from handbags, such as pens and tobacco products, are also a source of exposure
Toddlers and young children
As children get older and more mobile they get their hands on chemical products found at ground level and instinctively put them in their mouths. This makes toddlers the most vulnerable age group to poisoning.
Children aged 1-4 years old are most likely to have accidents with:
- cleaning products
- dishwashing detergents
- toilet cleaners
The data reveals that children aged between five and 14 years are prone to different poisoning accidents. Children in this older age group (5-14 years) are likely to have accidents with:
- glow sticks
- freezer/cold packs
Injuries caused by chemical accidents
Chemical accidents around the home can result in injuries ranging from skin irritations and eye damage through to severe internal burns.
Ingesting toxic products can result in difficulty swallowing, chest pains, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Some chemicals contacting the skin or eyes can result in rashes, chemical burns and blindness.
Tips for keeping safe around the home
Parents and carers can take some simple steps to prevent accidents:
- Cleaning products should always be stored in a secure cabinet.
- Chemical products around the house should be safely out of sight and reach. Check the kitchen, laundry (liquid laundry detergent capsules can be mistaken for lollies or toys), bathrooms, toilets as well as the garage and garden shed.
- When visiting friends or relatives who don’t have children check the house on arrival for medications and chemicals that are accessible.
- Keep household chemicals in their original containers – never transfer them to used soft drink bottles.
- Read the safety instructions on product labelling and follow the directions.
- Close containers so that ‘child resistant’ closures can function. Closures are not childproof and they are not a substitute for safe storage.
- Call the Poisons Information Centre 131126, if you think someone may have been exposed to a poison.