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  • How to childproof your home to keep your baby, toddler and children safe

    A complete guide for parents: Childproofing your home for children of all ages

    Once your baby is on the move you suddenly become aware of the sheer number of hazards that exist within your home. According to ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) more accidents happen in the home than anywhere else. Statistics say that a part from the over 65s, children under 5 are the most likely to be involved in an accident at home.

    It is sobering stuff, especially when you learn that older children could also encounter many risks around the home, almost as many as babies and toddlers. Indeed, over two million children under the age of 15 are taken to accident and emergency every year. When we think about childproofing, we have to think in terms of both babyproofing and childproofing our homes for many years to come.

    It's a lot to think about, so this guide has been produced, collating the best information that you need to know to childproof your home.

    How do you babyproof and childproof your home?

    Let's take a look at the top ways that you can help your children to stay safe around the house, whatever age they are.

    The Guardian newspaper reports in an interview with Dr Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, about home accident risks:

    “About 25,000 children a year attend A&E after being accidentally poisoned, 26,000 a year are burnt or scalded in the home and 4,200 fall on a set of stairs. Another 4,000 children a year are injured falling from windows.”

    There are many ways in which your child could be injured around the home. Once they start becoming more mobile and inquisitive then you really do need to be careful. If anything is within arms' reach there is a good chance they will try and interact with it, whether it is a hot drink or a mobile phone on the coffee table.

    How to avoid children and babies getting poisoned in the home?

    When you think about injuries in the home, poisoning probably comes way down the list. However, as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reminds us that this isn't the case.

    “From medicine to cleaning products – even something as innocuous as shampoo – there are plenty of harmless-looking things around the house that can be dangerous if your child accidentally ingests them.”

    Poisoning is high up the list and this is because at a young age, children often to put new things they discover in their mouths. While this is part of their learning and development, the risk of items like shampoos or cleaning materials can be very dangerous to risk being ingested.

    Knowing the speed and ease with which babies and children put things into their mouths, it is easy to see why the statistics for accidents from poisoning whilst at home, are so high. The Child Accident Prevention Trust reports that “suspected poisoning is one of the most common reasons for young children to be taken to A&E”.

    Here are some top ways to childproof your home to prevent accidental poisoning:

    Do not trust childproof caps and packaging: The most common ways that children get poisoned at home are from opening the supposedly childproof caps on medicines and clothes washing liquids or swallowing painkillers from blister packs left in handbags and the like – all these situations that can happen so easily. Do not rely on childproof packaging to keep your children safe. Studies have shown that despite manufacturers' claims, toddlers can often breakthrough seemingly tamperproof packaging within a couple of tries.

    Hidden hazards: As adults, it is easy to forget that there are many everyday items that are dangerous if swallowed. With a child in the house, you will need to be acutely aware of these potentially harmful objects could be and where they are, such as; a hot drink, pets' excrement or any small object which could cause a child to choke. When your child picks up something they shouldn't, you should try and educate them as young as possible to consider risks of some types of item and when to find an adult. This would hopefully reduce the risks of them coming to harm in the longer-term.

    Keep medicines and household cleaning products up high and locked away at all times: Always ensure that any medicines and household cleaning products are kept locked away and up high, without any risk of them being accessed or dropped by accident. If you can't store them at a height, then make sure that they are securely stored out of sight in a locked cupboard – ideally in a busy place where any discovery by a child will be seen.

    If you use any medicines or cleaning products, remember to close the container properly and put it back into the cupboard straightaway. The remains of an open box of detergent capsules or a recently used bottle of medicine are mistakes which could lead to children being poisoned. Similarly, when throwing away the finished packaging, be sure to check that the packaging is empty of any potentially harmful items. For example, how easy is it to overlook one or two stray cleaning capsules in what you thought was an empty box? This additional check can make the difference to your child's health.

    Store gardening products in the shed: It is easy to see why gardening products are so intriguing to children. Keep your children safe in the garden by storing gardening substances and equipment securely in the shed or garage. Again, after use don't forget to put them back into the shed and locked away out of reach.

    Choose products that are non-toxic: Prevention is better than cure, so whether you are buying products or plants, check labels carefully to make sure that you are not buying plants or products that would be particularly dangerous if your child did manage to swallow them by accident.

    For further support about how you can childproof your home to prevent the dangers of poisoning, contact The Child Accident Prevention Trust on 0207 608 3828.

    How to keep children and babies safe from burns and scalds in the home?

    Even for adults, a naked flame can be a fascinating sight. While often associated with so many celebrations and decorative uses, it is important that we teach our children about the reasons why fire can be dangerous and how to be careful around even a small flame.

    If the thought of talking to your children about the dangers of fire sounds intimidating then why not let the experts do it for you? Local fire stations host lots of visits to educate children every year. It is worth looking into your nearby fire station's next educational visits. Remember that they are an emergency service, so you can't just turn up unannounced.

    Additionally, it might be helpful if you buddy up with a couple of other parents, so that there a small group of you and your children. Contact your local fire brigade for further information.

    Find your local fire brigade at: UK Fire Stations – Brigades

    Similar to dealing with fire, it is easy to forget that while adults have long since learnt that hot water and heated appliances can be dangerous, children have to be taught this and need to be taught to take due care and be protected where possible. Worse still, with their young skin being more sensitive and thinner, a simple mistake can cause serious injury. Teaching children about these risks is also important which should hopefully prevent many instances of common accidents.

    Use these top tips to keep you children and babies safe from burns and scalds at home:

    Smoke alarms: Did you know that your local fire brigade will come and fit your smoke alarms for free and give you a free chat about how you can safeguard your home specifically, against fire? Smoke poses the biggest hazard to children if there is a fire. Find out more at London Fire Brigade or contact your local fire brigade.

    Hot water: From bath-time to popping the kettle on, when you have a child around these simple tasks can become a serious hazard. Incredibly, hot bath water and steaming cups of tea and coffee are the biggest causes of burns and scalds in children.

    Keep your children safe by making sure that hot drinks, kettles, kettle leads and pan handles are always kept well out of children's reach and never hold a child with a hot drink in your hand.

    Always check the temperature of bath water with your elbow before letting your child anywhere near it and keep children away from the bathroom whilst the bath is running.

    Heated appliances: It is easy to forget just how many electrical appliances we use around the home that get hot. Tablets and mobile phones for example, can become very hot at the back. Remember children's skin is much thinner than adults' skin, so it is much easier for them to experience deep burns. Keep any appliance that can get hot far away from children. Don't forget too, that many appliances remain dangerous long after use.

    For more information and a handy video visit: NIDirect – Keep children safe from burns and scalds

    How to prevent children from falling in the home?

    A trip or fall at home can result in serious injury. Shockingly, one of the most common accidents involving falls within the home are from children falling out of windows. Needless to say, it is important that as parents and guardians, we do as much we can to reduce the risk of our children falling over and incurring serious injury at home.

    Here are some of the best ways that you can prevent your child from falling at home:

    Stairs: Children are far less steady on their feet than adults and their smaller proportions can mean that it is harder for them to use their hands to help them to regain their balance. Based on this, keeping stairs completely free from any potential hazards, be they toys or slippers, is a must.

    Similarly, check your stairs to make sure that they are in good condition. A small tear in the carpet or a loose fitting can pose a serious danger to children. If you have young children then stair gates are crucial – don't forget to fit them at the top and bottom of the stairs.

    Windows: Windows pose a real hazard to children of all ages. Never position furniture close to a window – remember children are incredibly creative about using furniture to climb. Ensure that all windows are fitted with window restrictors or guards to prevent children from falling out.

    Keep babies low: There are a number of baby products that appear to lend themselves to placing babies at an adult level at convenient moments, such as baby changing equipment, baby carriers and bouncers.

    However, don't be tempted. Never leave your baby at a height on changing mats, not even for a second. Instead, always change your baby on the floor, make sure that they are always carefully strapped into high chairs and place bouncers and car seats on the floor.

    For more ways to protect your children from falls at home visit: Safe Kids – Falls

    While those are some of the major areas to be taken into consideration, there are some additional concerns that you can take precautions for, to make your home safer for your own children and any others' children.

    Choking: We all know that children love to put things in their mouths and noses, so you will need to be extra vigilant about picking up small things that you see lying around.

    Always keep a close eye on what your children are doing. Don't let them hold small objects that might end up stuck in their nose or throat. Remember to cut all of their food into small pieces before they start eating, even if they seem squashy or easy to chew. Foods like grapes and bananas can easily become lodged in children's throats.

    Drowning: Children love to play in water. However, whether it is the bath, a pond or a paddling pool, water is a serious hazard for children. Never leave a child alone near water, including during bath-time.

    Always remain no more than an arm's length away. Sadly, it is very easy and common for children to drown at home. In many cases it happens whilst they are in the bath.

    Remain observant before bath-time begins, whilst you run the bath and as the water is draining out. Stay in the bathroom as you run the bath and keep your eye on the bath as it fills.

    Be careful of bath seats, bath mats and bath stickers which all become very slippery and dangerous when wet. Bath seats in particular can be very deceptive, remember that they are there to help you. Never leave your child in a bath seat unattended and remain in full control whilst you use them.

    For further information about how to keep your child safe within the home visit: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents or The Child Accident Prevention Trust.

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    Last updated by MyJobQuote on 19th August 2019.

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