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Focus Point

Focus Point

27 March 2017

AoFA News

AoFA Association of First Aiders

Digestion of Corrosive Substances in Children

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Subject: Digestion of Corrosive Substances in Children

At the 2016 First Aid Conference Dr Amy Chan-Dominy presented on the risk of caustic ingestion in small children.  This led to a debate amongst the AoFA membership on the correct treatment, specifically on whether to allow the child to drink water or milk. 

AoFA were tasked to investigate this further and to provide guidance.  This is what our investigations encountered.

The Home Accident Surveillance System (HASS) and Leisure Accident Surveillance System (LASS) unfortunately closed down in 2002, meaning there is little to no evidence of the occurrence of caustic injuries in the past 15 years. However, a joint research paper, compiled by RoSPA in 2008 concluded that an injury surveillance system is required in the UK in order to track product safety. 

Whilst the ingestion of substances remains an on-going risk to children in the home, a number of measures have already been taken here in the UK to mitigate the overall risk posed by household cleaning products. This includes legislation that requires manufacturers to use packaging which reflects the potential danger of the product. For instance, this is why bottles of Chlorine Bleach – highly alkaline pH level – have child resistant caps, but washing up liquid – neutral pH level – does not. Furthermore, liquid dishwasher and laundry tabs must pass a test of robustness, which includes taking more than six seconds to dissolve and being able to resist a 'squeeze' test equivalent to a teenager's grip, in addition to this they must also incorporate a coating that is impregnated with a bittering agent such as Bitrex.

The RoSPA website provides factsheets and checklist of actions to be taken for making homes safer.  We have taken an extract from the factsheet to provide guidance on the procedures for First Aid:

·         Get medical help immediately

·         Do not let the child drink anything

·         Do not make the child sick this can cause more damage to the throat (larynx, trachea)

·         If you know what has been taken keep a sample to show to the medical services

·         If they appear to be unconscious, try to wake them and encourage them to spit out any substances

·         If a child’s lips are burned by corrosive substances, frequent sips of cold water or milk may be given

·         Residual chemicals on the skin should be rinsed away with copious amounts of water

·         Swill mouth out with water but do not allow the child to swallow.

As a membership for further discussions on this topic please post on our facebook:

Tel: 01908 610093

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