According to NHS statistics about 2 million children under the age of 18 are taken to A&E as a result of an accident in and around the home, with over half that number being under 5 years old. So it is definitely worthwhile reviewing your home, and any house you are viewing, for potential hazards so you can keep your little ones safe and sound.
Fire spreads quickly so it’s a good idea to have fire alarms which meet the current regulations, one or more carbon monoxide detectors, a working fire extinguisher and one or more fire blankets. Test your alarms regularly to ensure they are in top working order. It is worthwhile having a comprehensive first aid kit handy.
Safety in the Kitchen
Most families spend a lot of time in the kitchen and the trend for open plan living means easy access to all the appliances and utensils. Fortunately most new ovens have cool touch doors and many fridges have lockable doors.
Children are naturally curious and want to join in and the kitchen is one of the areas in the home with the most hazards and where adults are busy so cannot always see what’s going on.
Here are a few tips for safety in the kitchen:
- Keep all knives and sharp utensils in a lockable drawer
- Place glass objects in a high cupboard
- Turn pan handles towards the back of the hob when cooking
- Keep stools and chairs away from the cooking and food preparation areas
- Medicines, hazardous cleaning products, matches and lighters should be out of reach, preferably in a locked cupboard
- Consider a cover for your cooker knobs and for your dishwasher if it opens easily.
- Childproof latches on base units will also stop little ones from accessing the contents
- Move small fridge magnets up and out of reach from toddlers.
Open plan living has its benefits as the whole family is likely to be in the same area where they can keep a watchful eye over the under 5s and steer them away from danger.
Keeping children safe around electrical items
Children are fascinated by electrical appliances particularly TVs, DVD players, and computers. These should be placed against the wall and all the wires positioned out of reach. Unused sockets should be covered with safety plugs and small electrical items should be switched off at the socket.
There are three main safety considerations in bedrooms (and numerous minor ones). Firstly, check the windows are locked. Secondly, ensure tall bookcases and wardrobes are fixed to wall so that they cannot topple over. Thirdly, keep all blind cords are out of reach and conform to regulations and that drawstrings are removed. It’s also worth checking toy boxes, sliding doors and window stops to avoid children trapping their fingers.
Unless you are buying a new cot, it is advisable to check the age and condition of a second hand one very carefully. Specific advice is beyond the scope of this blog post but there is very good information on the NCT website https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/sleeping-safely-cot
In adults’ bedrooms all small and/or sharp objects should be put away and beauty products and medicines out of reach.
On the stairs a safety gate is essential at the top and bottom and if the rails on the stairs have wide gaps consider covering with a guard until the children are big enough. It is also a good idea to keep the stair free of toys.
Water however shallow and babies don’t mix. For toddler and small children the main advice is to keep the temperature of hot water at hand hot and to place a mat in the bottom of the bath or shower to prevent them slipping. Needless to say, all cleaning products, medicines, razors and electric hair styling products should be kept out of arms reach and the toilet lid left closed.
With regards to garages and sheds, the easiest way to remain safe is to keep them locked and out of bounds.
In summary, keep a watchful eye on babies and toddlers so their natural inquisitive nature doesn’t get them into trouble. They can have fun exploring without getting into danger if time has been taken to minimise the risks. For more information take a look at the Child Accident Prevention Trust website http://www.capt.org.uk/