For those who’s lives have never been touched by the tragedy of and child injured, it is difficult to understand the turmoil associated with it. To most people childhood injuries are merely a newspaper headline and far removed from their own lives.
A home is a very special place. It is the place where children should feel safe and comfortable. Unfortunately this is not the case in many homes as the majority of children’s injuries occur in and around the child’s own home. The good news is that you as parents can protect toddlers and small children from harm.
Surely we can’t keep our babies or children in a padded room or a glass cage: no, this is neither practical nor desirable. Indeed, children should be allowed to have some mishaps from time to time, as it is an unavoidable and integral part of growing up, but there are simple ways to prevent fatal or other serious accidents.
As a parent, you can prevent injuries by creating a safe environment for your child. And the more you know about how injuries can happen, the better able you will be to prevent them.
What poses a danger to babies, toddlers and older children? It depends on their age and their abilities. In general, though, the biggest dangers to children are:
- Car injuries
Injuries most often happen when:
- You’re not paying attention. Small children, especially under 3 years, need to be watched all the time
- Children acquire a new skill: Children learn as they grow – rolling over, climbing, crawling. If parents aren’t ready, these explorations can result in injuries
- Children are hungry or tired: Before they eat and before bedtime, children may be less likely to pay attention to what they’re doing
- Children are somewhere new: Injuries are more likely to happen when children are in a place they’re not familiar with
You can help prevent injuries:
Just use the following steps to make your home child safe.
- Spot the hazard. Go through your home room for room and identify dangers
- Decide how to deal with the hazard
- Remove the hazard
- Guard the hazard
- Last resort is to watch your child within grabbing distance
- Make the change. Do this as soon as possible / straight away
Just remember it is no use having created a physical safe home without applying safe behaviour and good habits.
Hazards change in the home according to the child’s age and development. Therefore you need to create a safe home for children looking at different risks at different age groups.
- Look at your home from a child’s point of view. It is advisable to go down on your knees (level of a baby and toddler), to see the hidden dangers in ones home. Do you see drawers that small children could open? Things within reach that they could choke on? Things they could pull down on top of them?
- Anticipate children’s new skills. Take precautions before a danger presents itself: For instance, put child-resistant locks on cupboards and drawers. Place safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs before children are able to crawl
No pre-school child can take responsibility for his or her own safety. It is therefore the caregivers and parent’s responsibility to create an as safe as possible environment for children.
Some safety tips:
Falls Warning! Most accidents at nappy changing time happen when the baby falls off the changing unit or raised surface!!!
- Babies can roll off changing tables or beds. Have everything you need to use close by when changing your baby
- Use safety gates at stairways and at open doors with steps
- Never leave your baby alone on any high surface (bed, chair, high chair, table)
- While carrying baby, take care that you don’t fall
Burns Warning! A burn takes a second to occur, but a lifetime to overcome and can leave permanent scars!!!
- Always fill the bath with cold water first and then add hot water. Test the temperature
- Put hot drinks well out of reach of grabbing hands. A cup of tea could scar for life. Therefore don’t hold your baby and a hot drink at the same time
- Put tablecloths away, they can be pulled. Use place mats instead
- Turn pot handles towards the back of the stove and where possible use the back plates of your stove
- Always test the temperature of food and drinks. Be careful if you heat food in the microwave over, it could be very hot
- Keep candles, paraffin stoves and heaters well away from baby
- All fires should be properly guarded
- Place kettle cords out of baby’s reach
Electricity Warning! Electrical outlets, appliances and cords can be hazardous for your baby!!!
- Avoid using an electric blanket for your baby
- Always cover unused electrical outlets/sockets with safety plugs
- Keep appliances unplugged when not in use
- Replace frayed electrical cords and keep cords out of your baby’s reach
Choking/Suffocation Warning! Small children put everything into their mouths!!!
- Always stay with your baby at meal times or when eating or drinking.
- Keep small objects such as buttons, beads, coins, peanuts and balloons out of reach
- Never use drawstrings or ribbons that tie tightly around head or necklines, they can easily pull tight
- Remove bib before baby goes to sleep
Poisoning Warning! Most poisoning accidents occur to children under 5 years. They like to put everything into their mouths, but they don’t know the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous substances!!!
- Lock dangerous items such as medicines, cleaners, bleaches and paraffin out of baby’s reach. Use child safety latches on cupboards if locks are not available
- Buy dangerous/poisonous substances in child-resistant packaging if available
- Use child safety caps on containers such as medication, household cleaners and paraffin
- Keep products in their original containers if possible
- Re-close dangerous products properly when not in use
- If you think your baby has swallowed something poisonous, phone your Poisons Information Centre if possible
- Beware of poisonous plants in the garden
Drowning Warning! Small children can drown in as little as four centimeters of water!!!
- Never leave small children unattended near any of the following:
- Swimming pools/baby pools
- Nappy buckets
- Fish ponds
- Never leave baby alone in the bath, even if he/she can sit up
- Empty water from bath/buckets when not in use
- Use non-slip bath mats to prevent baby from slipping
- Fence all swimming pools, and use a pool net for safety
Baby Walkers Warning! Baby walkers are not always safe and causes a lot of accidents!!!
- Baby walkers let babies move very fast and makes them difficult to supervise
- These are not recommended as babies are injured by falling and reaching dangerous things such as stoves, plugs and stairs
- There is no evidence that babies would benefit from using a baby walker
Prams and High Chairs Warning! Baby can fall out if not properly secured!!!
- Make sure the pram has brakes that work
- Always use a harness (safety straps) in high chairs and prams
- Make sure they do not have sharp edges or finger straps
- Never leave your baby alone in a pram or high chair
Toys Warning! Baby can choke on small toys!!!
- Always check safety messages on packaging, e.g. recommended age
- Keep toys for older children away from younger ones
- Always remove plastic coverings
- Throw broken toys away and always tidy up all toys.
Dummies Warning! Accidents can occur when baby chokes on a piece of dummy or teat!!!
- Check dummies and teats regularly for holes and tears
- Dummies and teethers should not be hung around a baby’s neck on a cord or string, because of the risk of strangulation
- Use a safe strong dummy that won’t come apart.
Safety in the Car Warning! An adults lap is not safe when traveling!!!
- Your baby should travel in a car seat from the very first car ride following birth
- Make sure you buy a car seat that fits correctly in your car and follow the manufacturers instructions for use
- Always use your child’s car seat, even for short trips
- Use the correct car seat for your child’s weight
- Never leave your baby alone in the car, even for a minute
- Infants car seats should face the rear of the car
- Make sure you know your baby-sitter well and that they know where and how to contact you as well as the emergency services when necessary
- Take the recommended precautions to make your home a safe place!!!
It is important to learn first-aid. Resuscitation should be known by every parent or child-minder.
Prevention is so much better than cure.
Take a few minutes of your time check your home from room to r