A new campaign by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service aims to prevent child accidents involving button cell batteries, plastic nappy sacks, window blind cords and detergent liquitabs.
Trading Standards North West has identified household items which pose a particular danger to babies and young children, and produced a series of four posters with advice for parents and carers which will be displayed in GP surgeries, libraries and nurseries.
At least 10 babies have died in England and Wales from suffocation after pulling plastic nappy sacks onto their faces. The sacks, used to dispose of dirty nappies, are often left in the same environment as the baby and the thinness of the plastic means they cling to babies’ faces when they breathe in, obstructing the nose and mouth.
Since 1999, there have been at least 27 fatalities across the UK where babies and young children have become accidentally entangled in internal window blind cords and chains. The youngsters have become caught in the cords when playing, with the cords becoming wrapped around their necks, tightening and strangling them.
Cases have also been identified where young children have been hurt after biting or placing colourful detergent liquitabs in their mouths, often mistaking them for sweets. However, they contain strong alkaline chemicals which can burn and make the throat swell if ingested.
And there have also been incidents of children putting in their mouths and swallowing small button cell batteries commonly found in toys, remote controls, calculators and other small electrical devices. Lithium batteries react with saliva to leak acid within as little as an hour and, if swallowed, can cause severe trauma to the throat, stomach, or other internal organs.
County Coun. Janice Hanson, cabinet member for public protection, said: “Fortunately, we have had no reports of accidents in Lancashire involving blind cords, nappy sacks, button batteries or liquitabs. However, the evidence shows these everyday household items can pose a risk to babies and young children and we want to take this opportunity to increase awareness of the potential dangers.
“We would urge parents to ensure button cell batteries, detergent liquitabs and nappy sacks are kept well away from children and stored in places where children can’t get access to them.
“Looped window and blind cords should be tied up so they are out of reach of children or one of the many cleats, cord tidies or clips that are available from blind retailers or hardware stores used. Cots, high chairs and play pens should not be put near a window in order to prevent children from climbing up and reaching curtains and blinds.”