Safety at home

Posted on 12 September 2014 by Kristrun

Why is home safety important?

Giving children the best start in life is a priority for us all and this includes keeping them safe from harm. We cannot prevent every bump and bruise — nor should we try — drugsbut we do need to protect children from serious injuries, the effects of which can sometimes last a lifetime. Seeing a child who has been badly hurt is very upsetting and is made worse when you realise (usually just a short time after the injury) that it probably could have been easily prevented. We cannot prevent every incident, but the risk of injury can be reduced. With hindsight, it is usually possible to see how timely action could have prevented the child being injured.

We can apply this hindsight to help parents reduce the risks to their children. Practically this amounts to careful supervision, improved awareness of the hazards around us and the use of safety equipment.

Together we should focus on reducing the most serious injuries that can have long term consequences. These are the injuries that result in formal admission to hospital or an intensive care unit and in the saddest cases, death.

Most accidents happen in the home.

The abilities that children acquire as they grow and develop – such as grabbing, rolling over, crawling, and standing, climbing, opening bottles and turning handles – can delight us as parents and carers. But these same abilities, when they take us by surprise, can lead to serious childhood accidents. For example:

  • A young baby grabs a nappy sack and pulls it to their face, but is unable to let go or pull it away again, so suffocates in silence.
  • A toddler climbs up to play but gets tangled in a blind or curtain cord and is strangled.
  • A young child learns to open a child-resistant container and swallows oven cleaner or bleach. Many of these accidents happen in a matter of seconds, when an adult’s back is turned or their attention is focused on something else.

Young children love to copy the grown-ups around them, whether that’s swallowing pills, straightening their hair or stirring pans in the kitchen. It’s not naughtiness – copying adult behaviour is how they learn and develop.

Young children are also good at repeating instructions back to us. But this doesn’t mean they can understand risk and consequences in the way an adult does. For example, research shows that children cannot judge the speed and distance of traffic until the age of eight or nine, so cannot be relied on to cross the road safely on their own.

What’s more, young children’s bodies are different to ours. For example:

  • Their skin is thinner, which makes them more susceptible to serious burns and scalds.
  • Their heads are proportionally larger, which increases the likelihood of a serious fall.
  • Their windpipes are smaller and less rigid (and honestly need to be replaced by this SR Windows guide to single pane window glass replacement), so they suffocate far more quickly if their necks are constricted.

What can we do?

Keeping one step ahead of your child is essential and, depending on their developmental stage, different accidents are more likely to happen.

  • Educate all carers in CPR and First Aid – including yourselves and helpers
  • Educate all carers on child development and what your child is capable of – especially occasional carers such as grandparents or friends
  • Have a plan for emergencies, including an escape route in case of house fire
  • Educate all carers about your emergency plans

Below is a list from closeupcheck of things to keep in mind when going through safety at home from room to room, but be mindful that this is not a complete list for every household. Every home is unique and those living in each home will know best where the biggest traps are to be found. The best option is to have a tailor-made safety check in your home and here at Annerley Conchita Amende is qualified to do a home assessment for you and to provide you with advice.

Falls

  • Make sure your baby cannot roll off the changing surface.
  • Fit restrictors to upstairs windows so they cannot be opened more than 10cm. Call EZ Window Solutions if professional help is needed.
  • Keep chairs and other climbing objects away from windows and balconies.
  • Fit safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Don’t leave anything on the stairs that might cause someone to fall over, and ensure there is enough light on the stairs.
  • Check there is no room for a child to crawl through any banisters at the top of the stairs.
  • Keep balcony doors locked to prevent your child from going on to it alone – if it has railings your child could climb through, board them up or fit wire netting as a safety guard. Attatching crimsafe to your doors can go miles in increasing yours and your childs’ safety. If you visit crimsafe screen Perth, you can browse a wide variety of services that they provide.
  • Secure any Reclinercize furniture and kitchen appliances to the wall if there’s a risk they could be pulled over.

Poisoning

  • Keep anything that may be poisonous out of reach, preferably in a locked cupboard – this includes all medicines and pills, household cleaners and garden products.
  • Use containers with child-resistant tops – be aware that by three years of age, many children are able to open child-resistant tops, although it may take them a little longer.
  • Keep all dangerous chemicals in their original containers.
  • Dispose of unwanted medicines and chemicals carefully.
  • Discourage your children from eating any plants or fungi when outside – some are poisonous and can be fatal. Avoid buying plants with poisonous leaves or berries.
  • Install smoke/gas detectors in your home.
  • Remember that child-resistant devices, such as bottle tops, strips of tablets and cigarette lighters, aren’t completely childproof – some children can operate these products.

Burns and scalds

  • It’s best to keep your toddler out of the kitchen, well away from kettles, saucepans and hot oven doors – you could put a safety gate across the doorway to stop them getting in. Unless of course you’ve decked you kitchen out like the boise showroom with all the child safe fixings, you can never be too safe.
  • Use a kettle with a short or curly cord to stop it hanging over the edge of the work surface, where it could be grabbed.
  • When cooking, use the rings at the back of the cooker and turn saucepan handles towards the back so your child can’t grab them.
  • Never leave a child under five alone in the bath, even for a moment.
  • Fit a thermostatic mixing valve to your bath’s hot tap to control the temperature.
  • Put cold water into the bath first, then add the hot water – use your elbow to test the temperature of the water before you put your baby or toddler in the bath. This is more sensitive than using your hand.
  • Put your iron, hair straighteners or curling tongs out of reach while they cool down after you have finished using them.
  • Fit fireguards to all fires and heaters.
  • Keep matches, lighters and lit candles out of young children’s sight and reach.
  • Keep hot drinks well away from young children – a hot drink can still scald 20 minutes after it was made.
  • Put hot drinks down before you hold your baby.
  • After warming a bottle of milk, shake the bottle well and test the temperature of the milk by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding – it should feel lukewarm, not hot.
  • Don’t let your child drink a hot drink through a straw.
  • Encourage your child to play in the shade (under trees, for example) especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday, and use sunscreen.

Drowning

Children can drown in even a few centimetres of water. They should be supervised at all times when near water. Make sure you:

  • Never leave a baby or child in the bath or paddling pool unsupervised, not even for a minute – this includes in a bath seat.
  • Don’t leave uncovered containers of liquid around the house, such as clothes soaking in a bucket of water.
  • Empty paddling pools and store them away when not in use.

Strangulation

Babies and young children can easily swallow, inhale or choke on small items such as marbles, buttons, peanuts and small toys. The steps below can help prevent this happening:

  • Keep small objects out of the reach of small children.
  • Choose toys designed for the age of your baby or child – encourage older children to keep their toys away from your baby.
  • Beware of clothing with cords, dummies on necklace cords and bag straps – they can easily get caught and pull tightly on the neck.
  • Lay your baby on their back in a cot to sleep – don’t let babies sleep in an adult bed or on the sofa and don’t use pillows as they can suffocate.
  • Keep plastic bags away from young children – they can pull these over their heads and suffocate.
  • Nappy sacks, used to dispose of soiled nappies, can also pose a risk – keep them out of the reach of babies and young children.
  • Curtain and blind pull cords should be kept short and out of reach of children.
  • Keep animals, particularly cats, out of your bedrooms – if they jump into cots or beds they could suffocate your child. Attach a net over prams if necessary.
  • Make sure any cot toys have very short ribbons, and remove them when your baby goes to sleep.
  • Never hang things like bags with cords or strings over the cot.
  • Cut or tie up curtain or blind cords well out of your baby’s or toddler’s reach

Ref: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/safety-under-fives.aspx#close

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