Spring Cleaning Safety Alert: Parents warned of dangers in spring cleaning season

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With the spring cleaning season well under way, bitter safety additive manufacturer Bitrex has joined forces with the Child Accident Prevention Trust to remind parents of the risk to children from household cleaning products.

'We regard bittering agents as very much the last line of defence. Bitrex is no substitute for careful, secure storage, but it does mean that a moment’s inattention won’t end in a tragedy.'
Cameron Smith, Bitrex

Evidence from hospitals suggests a springtime upsurge in admissions related to accidental swallowing of household cleaners. Over the past three years one of Britain’s busiest A & E departments at Birmingham Children’s Hospital found that 39% of all cleaning product related incidents took place during April and May. Experts believe that the spring cleaning season, when cleaners are more likely to be actively in use and not safely locked away in cupboards, is a period of maximum danger.

Dr Ben Stanhope, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Birmingham Children's Hospital said,

‘At this time of the year we see a noticeable rise in the number of admissions related to accidental swallowing of household cleaners. Luckily in most cases the swift response of parents means that the consequences are not fatal. But the outcomes are still serious and cause great distress to the child and to their parents.

‘It’s at times of maximum distraction when you’re concentrating on the job in hand that accidents happen. It only takes a second for a child to swallow a potentially deadly amount of dangerous product.’

Parents are being urged to take extra care, and make sure cleaning products are kept out of reach during the big spring clean, even when in use, or to look for products that contain a bittering agent like Bitrex, for added peace of mind.

Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust said,

‘Even the most careful parent can become distracted when focussing on tricky household cleaning tasks and that is exactly the moment when an inquisitive child can get hold of a interesting looking bottle. Many products are designed to look and smell attractive and that often makes them very intriguing for a toddler.

‘Parents can’t have eyes in the back of their head. Take extra care – put any bottles back in a secure cupboard or out of reach, replace the child resistant cap and try to buy products that contain a bittering agent which will make it almost impossible for a child to drink it accidentally.’

Cameron Smith, Bitrex Business Manager added,

‘We are long term supporters of the Child Accident Prevention Trust and are very happy to join them in drawing attention to the hazards children face from household cleaners, particularly at this time of the year. We regard bittering agents as very much the last line of defence. Bitrex is no substitute for careful, secure storage, but it does mean that a moment’s inattention won’t end in a tragedy.’

The risks of a second’s distraction were brought home to Clare Smith of Ivybridge, Devon. Her toddler managed to work out how to open the safety catch on the cleaning cupboard,

‘With the best will in the world no parent can keep their eye on inquisitive toddlers all the time. Any parent who says they don’t let them out of sight for a second is lying! Even with a safety catch on the cleaning cupboard my toddler managed to get hold of a full bottle of cleaning product. If it hadn’t contained Bitrex he’d have happily drained the lot. I don’t want to think of what might have been the result of that.’

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