Family safety charity RoSPA is pushing for greater awareness of the danger posed by nappy sacks, for an improvement in industry standards and for safer manufacture of the hygiene product, with a high-level event in London with retailers, manufacturers and safety professionals.
RoSPA is aware of at least 16 children who have died after suffocating or choking on the flimsy plastic bags, which are used for disposal of soiled nappies. All were aged under 12 months. However, a recent survey by the Trading Standards South East Group identified a number of nappy sacks as not being adequately labelled with warnings.
RoSPA is working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the British Retail Consortium, and Trading Standards services to bring this issue to the attention of businesses and consumers, and on Monday, April 3, is hosting the Nappy Sack Safety Stakeholder event in London.
Discussions will surround education of nappy sack risks – including adequate labelling – and the continued development of safer products on the market, with invitees including those from the retail sector, producers, and those involved with child and nappy sack safety.
The event will also hear from Sam Brough, who lost her five-month-old daughter Harley in 2013 when a nappy sack was accidentally knocked into her cot. She is keen to raise awareness of the issue and ensure that everything is being done to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Sheila Merrill, public health adviser for RoSPA, said: “We want to maximise public awareness of this serious risk to young lives, and develop a code of practice for the manufacture and labelling of nappy sacks.
“Where these deaths have occurred, typically the sacks have been stored within the baby’s reach, close to the baby’s cot, including under the mattress, usually for convenience. The parents clearly have not made any association between the nappy sacks and any sort of risk from suffocation or choking.
“We can change this with adequate education and awareness, but we also want manufacturers to consider safety approaches such as making them unscented, producing them on a roll rather than as individual sheets, or new packaging.”
Claire Taylor, a senior officer with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards who led the survey, said: “There is a serious suffocation risk from these widely-used products and our research found this is not always made clear in the packaging they come in. We want it to be mandatory for nappy sacks to carry proper warnings but there are other things which would also help such as selling them perforated in rolls to make it harder for babies to grab them.
“We’re pleased to be taking part in this important event which we hope will be a big step towards making these products safer for babies and young children.”
For more information on nappy sack safety, see www.rospa.com/campaigns-fundraising/current/nappy-sacks.