By Claire Mitchell
Every year, parents take thousands of children to the hospital with injuries caused in the home or garden.
Whether you are a new parent, a minder or even an experienced care giver, we think you’ll find our guide to child safety in the home to be both educational and informative.
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Falls are the number one cause of injuries to children with around 17000 under-fives being admitted to hospital each year.
That figure increases to 27000 for 5-14 year-olds.
There are many different ways a child can fall, and as a child gets older and stronger, he/she will be able to reach more dangerous locations, so the risk is constantly evolving.
The most common places a fall can happen are:
- from furniture such as drawers and shelf units.
- by falling out of windows or from sills.
- the garden is also a hot spot for accidents.
Here are our practical tips:
- while carpets stain easily and are difficult to clean, they do provide an extra cushioning layer in the event of a head impact and are preferable to wooden or stone floors.
- sharp edges around coffee tables, fire hearths and other objects can be covered with soft corners to protect a child from falling or bumping onto them.
- drawer, door and window catches are cheap and easy to install. They can prevent a child from climbing onto objects or falling out of windows.
- safety gates are an excellent way to keep a child out of a particular room such as a study or storage space.
- children often see the garden as a playground where they can jump or run around. A low level fall onto grass is unlikely to cause a serious injury but one onto hard concrete, patio slabs or even decking could be fatal. If you don’t want to make drastic changes to your garden, consider partitioning high-risk areas.
- parents can secure televisions, drawers and shelf units with cheap and easy-to-install straps.
- in the bathroom, non-slip mats can be placed on the floor and shower cubicle.
Burns and Scolds
Up to nine children are admitted to UK hospitals with burns and scolds each day.
The most common places that these incidents occur are in the bathroom and kitchen. The time of day is also noteworthy; most accidents happen in the morning or early evening.
Please consider these facts:
- a hot drink such as a coffee can still burn the thin and sensitive skin of a baby up to 15 minutes after the parent has poured the drink.
- bath water may feel warm to an adult’s skin but could burn that of a small child. Check out this question about elbow testing warm water.
- hair straighteners and irons can still burn up to 15 minutes after powering off.
- kettle water can still burn up to 20 minutes after last use.
- saucepans and the kitchen are hot spots for accidents
- heaters and fireplaces also retain heat
With that in mind, consider these ideas and suggestions:
- if you are a regular tea or coffee drinker, buy a sealable coffee cup that won’t spill its entire contents when knocked over.
- buy a mixer tap for your bath so the hot water is pre-mixed with cold water before coming out the tap.
- get a heat proof storage bag for your hair straighteners. This product is on sale at Amazon.
- for irons, try one of these heat proof covers.
- for young children, kettle cords are very tempting to pull or yank. You can reduce the length of the cord by using cable ties, buy one with a short cable or even a “curly flex” cable that shrinks in length.
- saucepans should be used on the hobs closest to the wall and furthest away from the front of the worktop.
- consider installing a gate at the doorway to the kitchen.
- swap chip pans for oven cooked food; it’s safer.
- for heaters and fireplaces, invest in a strong fire guard.
Every day parents admit up to 40 children to UK hospitals after swallowing objects.
Food and drink are the number one causes of choking, but children often consume other objects such as batteries, toys, lids and other small items.
- avoid propping up feeding bottles as the baby may not be strong enough to push it away when full.
- buy a lockable box storage for toys.
- be wary of cheap small toys purchased online, especially those imported from outside the EU as they not meet acceptable standards, small parts may break off and be a choking hazard for children under 3 years of age.
- kitchen doors and drawers can be easily secured with child proof locks. Magnetic locks are a great option.
- batteries can choke and cause internal burns and sickness. Button batteries are smaller and easier to swallow, they are a risk to children of young age. Keep spares out of reach, also secure remote controls and other devices with tape or a plaster super-glued over the battery slot.
The risk of a fatal electric shock is quite slim in the UK. Most modern houses have consumer units that detect power surges and cut the power supply before anyone feels the shock.
The biggest risk to children is fires caused by faulty electrical equipment.
According to the London Fire Brigade, nearly one in six fires are caused by electrical equipment.
Here are our tips to keep you and your family safe:
- inspect your consumer unit (fusebox), if it’s outdated, get a second opinion from an electrician and get a price to replace it with a new consumer unit.
- keep all electrical items out of the bathroom and if you use them in a hallway, make sure children cannot carry them into the bathroom. Shorten cords with cable ties if necessary.
- check the age of all appliances, replace any that are old and outdated.
- avoid overloading plug sockets, especially with appliances that produce heat as these (kettle, heaters, hairdryer, hair straighteners, etc) use the most electricity. Divide them across several sockets.
- for further reading, explore the Electrical Safety First website.
Painkillers and other medicines are the number one cause of child poison related hospital admissions in the UK.
But there are many other ways a child could be poisoned:
- detergents and cleaning fluids.
- washing capsules are a favourite among young children due to their colour and texture.
- oils, perfumes, fragrances, alcohol and tobacco.
- carbon monoxide
Here are some simple and realistic options for you to consider:
- in the living room, you could secure a shelf to the wall at around head height. This would be a perfect place to store tobacco, lighters, alcoholic drinks and fragrances.
- for chemicals and cleaning equipment in the bathroom, a secure and lockable box can be stored next to the toilet.
- any items that could cause harm in the kitchen should be kept in a cupboard at eye level and secured with a lock.
- smoke detectors (such as this toast friendly version) are cheap and easy to install, you should place one on each level of the house and one carbon monoxide detector in the kitchen
In 2016, Rospa issued this statement:
Anything that is looped is a potential strangulation threat.
Here are the most common high-risk items:
- blind cords.
- bag handles.
- cables behind televisions and telephone cords.
Blind cords are one area where you should take extra precautions.
Children have died after looping the cord around their necks and then falling from the window sill.
Fortunately, there are some simple and quick steps you can take to eliminate this threat:
- use a blind clip for roller blinds or a similar device for other types of blind.
- looking to buy new blinds? Purchase cordless blinds instead.
- move cots and beds away from windows.
- keep bags and anything with flexible handles out of reach.
- cables can be shortened and secured with cable ties to eliminate any choking hazard.
There is a genuine risk of children drowning in the home, the most common places are in the bath or garden pond.
At bath time, there aren’t any products that can replace a watchful eye so the usual common sense advice must be followed.
The garden pond or swimming pool should be appropriately fenced off or securely covered to prevent a child from falling in.
Don’t forget that as children get older, they will get more inquisitive, so make sure they can’t access a neighbours property where they may find an open pond or pool.
As children get older it’s a good idea to teach them about beach and sea safety. In particular, the basics of daily tides, rip tides and undercurrents.
Rips are the leading cause of lifeguard rescues at beaches and result in over 40 US deaths per year.
In 2016, five people died in one week in the south of the UK.
Wikipedia has a good explanation of rip tides and how to escape them.
What is Job Prices?
Job Prices is a website created by myself and my partner.
Our initial aim was to research the prices tradespeople were charging for home improvement projects and then publish our findings.
It was our hope that with knowledge of the going rate, our visitors can steer clear of businesses that overcharge.
We’ve expanded our website recently to include help guides for pensioners, new parents, disabled persons and ex-forces personnel.