Media Release: Be safe home from home

WITH the economic downturn continuing to encourage more families to stay at home and sample self-catering holidays, Macfarlan Smith are urging parents to be alert to child safety when away from home.

Says a spokesperson: “The UK National Office of Statistics recently revealed that there was a 15 per cent decline in UK overseas holidays in 2009 with the trend continuing into the 2010 season.

“‘Staycationers’ are more likely to find themselves in self-catering accommodation and subsequently at risk from unfamiliar domestic hazards.

“Holiday accommodation may not always have the same standards of safety that parents have at home. Families don’t leave behind the domestic hazards of falling, choking and poisoning when they go on holiday. In strange houses and gardens the risks may not always be spotted.”

Macfarlan Smith are the discoverers of Bitrex, recognised as the bitterest substance in the world, which helps prevent accidental child poisonings.

They sell this unique safety ingredient worldwide, and are also a long-term sponsor of the Child Accident Prevention Trust’s (CAPT) Child Safety Week.

Cameron Smith, Bitrex business manager, said: “Because of our role as suppliers of Bitrex the world’s leading bittering agent, we are particularly concerned about the risks to children from ingesting household and garden products.

“The cupboard under the sink in a holiday home is just as risky to a child as the one at home. Children love to explore new surroundings both inside and out, so we’d urge parents to take a moment to check out their holiday home.”

Katrina Phillips, chief executive, the Child Accident Prevention Trust, added: “Holidays are about having fun so the last thing you want is a serious accident to spoil it. It’s worth having a quick check round your holiday home for obvious and hidden dangers. For instance, cleaning products left under the sink in the kitchen or on the floor in the bathroom.”

The following checklist for holiday homes offers help for a safer summer:

* Children love to climb so keep low furniture away from windows so that children can’t climb up and fall out. Watch out for balconies and check for window catches.

* Make sure all blind cord loops are tied back well out of reach of young children who can get strangled on them. Tie them out of reach of climbing children.

* Watch out for cleaning products in self catering accommodation particularly those that don’t have a child-resistant top or don’t contain a bittering agent such as Bitrex. Keep them all up high out of children’s reach.

* When on holiday with children, check out the environment for water hazards such as unfenced ponds, pool or rivers and canals.

* Check the smoke alarms are working when you arrive. In a strange building it’s worth practising an escape route in case a fire breaks out in the night.

* Children under six shouldn’t sleep on the top bunk of a bunk bed.

* Explore the surroundings so you’re aware of any dangers around you – look out for garden sheds and outbuildings. They can contain dangerous tools, implement and chemicals. Dangerous substances can sometimes be stored in unmarked bottles.

* Look out for slug pellets or other poisons. If you are using slug pellets yourself, always choose a product with the Bitrex logo for added protection.


Notes to Editors

477,500 under fives are admitted to hospital every year after serious accidents in the home.

Causes of accidental death in children 15 years and under in 2008 in England and Wales included:

* Poisonings eight deaths

* Falls eight deaths

* Fire ten deaths

* Drowning 17 deaths

* Choking/Suffocation 30 deaths

There was a total of 208accidental deaths in 2008 (statistics from Office of National Statistics, Mortality Statistics, England and Wales 2008)


Denatonium Benzoate was discovered in 1958 by Macfarlan Smith and registered under the Bitrex trademark in the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA later the same year.

First used in denaturing alcohol – making it legally unfit for consumption – it is now added to a wide range of household cleaners, pesticides, and DIY and automotive products.

Since being approved in the UK and US in the early 1960s, Bitrex has been officially recognised as the denaturant of choice in more than 40 countries.

UK sales began in 1960, and by 1963, customers included I.C.I, Rentokil and Avon Products. The first use of Bitrex simply as a taste aversive was in a cream to prevent tail-biting in pigs.

Bitrex® has been used in a variety of applications since. One of the main uses is as a human aversive. Due to its overwhelming bitter taste, it is ideal for helping prevent accidental poisonings. Many supermarkets in the UK and Europe use the Bitrex® logo on their products as a selling point to their customers.

Child Accident Prevention Trust

The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) is a leading charity working to reduce the number of children and young people killed, disabled or seriously injured in accidents. It wants to see children leading active, healthy lives – not ‘wrapped in cotton wool’.

It is the national organiser of Child Safety Week. For more information visit

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Contact: Ali O'Neale
Phone: 07889 016 094 or 0131 553 8660