Accidental injuries to children are a major health problem throughout the World, and can be devastating to parents as well as to the child. They are one of the most common causes of death in children over one year of age. Every year they leave many thousands permanently disabled or disfigured.
In the UK, more than two million children under the age of 15 experience accidents in and around the home every year. On average 62 children under the age of five died as a result of an accident and over 76.000 under the age of 14 are admitted for treatment of which over 40% are under 5 years of age.
Those most at risk from a home accident are the 0-4 years age group. Falls account for the majority of non-fatal accidents while the highest numbers of deaths are due to fire.
The vast majority of these accidents are preventable through increased awareness, improvements in the home environment and the proper use of safety products.
Now is the time to take action to minimise the risks to your child!
Check out the Safety Range at Hello Baby Direct and find those essential items for improving home safety.
What injuries occur?
The worst injuries are from heat and falling with older children more prone to bone breaks whereas younger children are in greater danger from burns, scalding and ingesting foreign objects.
Where do accidents happen?
Believe it or not, most accidents happen in the living and dining rooms but these tend to be less serious. The most dangerous accidents occur in the kitchen and on stairs. In the UK, over 67,000 children have an accident in the kitchen and 43,000 of these are aged between 0-4 years. More than 58,000 children have accidents on the stairs
Why do children have accidents?
Children get absorbed in their own immediate interests and so can be unaware of what is going on around them. Only as they get older can they process the huge amount of information required to be aware of their surroundings and how it may affect them.
Often it may be a completely new situation and they do not perceive the potential dangers.
This may prevent a child from seeing above an obstruction or being seen by an adult.
If something is causing frustration it can override other thoughts and awareness of of the situation.
Curiosity and a spirit of adventure may lead a child into danger.
- Bravado and horseplay
Boys are particularly prone to showing off and over reaching their abilities, especially among friends. Many accidents are caused by horseplay involving pushing, shoving and wrestling.
Tensions at home and emotional upsets caused by temper, jealousy and over excitement may cause a child to run blindly into danger. Such action may even be deliberate to seek attention.
A child’s interpretation of a situation may be inaccurate and adults looking after small children should be aware not to expect too much of them.
- Inadequate supervision
Children need constant supervision. Medicines, pills and toxic substances should be locked away and fires and stairs should be guarded. The kitchen is an area that needs extra diligence as it is full of dangers and toxic substances.
Secure The Environment
Child proofing your home may sound extreme but is vital during the early development years (0-4 years old). It is best to start room by room, and consider your child’s current mobility to see what needs to be secured immediately, and how he/she will progress through crawling/walking so that you can plan what needs to be done and when.
Look at the environment from their level too – it’s surprising how you see things differently if you get down on the floor to their level!
- The most dangerous of all the rooms so be extra vigilant
- Oven, Microwave and Door locks keep little fingers and mouths away from kitchen products. There are many different types that cover pretty much every reachable door and drawer.
- As a rule of thumb, every drawer and cupboard in the kitchen should be locked.
- Use a cooker guard to prevent a small child reaching up for a pan.
- The one room where you cannot observe them constantly so invest in a quality monitor, ideally with video.
- Ensure their cot/bed is safety approved and that they cannot climb or squeeze through the bars.
- If using a secondhand cot or bed, invest in a new, replacement mattress.
- Be aware of self-closing doors often fitted in new homes. They can trap fingers etc and be strong enough to cause damage. Use proper door stoppers, not a piece of folded cardboard!
- If you have animals in the home, especially cats, then invest in a protective net to protect the cot – if you live in hotter climates then an insect net is also essential.
- Living Room
- Of course the most dangerous item here is the fireplace – so a well secured fireguard is essential and make sure it is fixed in place so that it cannot tip over – they are often heavy and will be used by toddlers as a support when standing up.
- Make sure that the TV is secured. With modern LCD TVs being thinner and lighter, they are far more likely to tip over and those sharp corners can cause serious injury – so invest in TV securing straps.
- Any furniture that could be tipped over should also be secured to the wall.
- Keep the floor clear of toys and be aware of rugs etc that might cause tripping.
- Another room to be extra vigilant in and never leave a child alone in a bathroom!
- All cupboards must be locked and secured.
- Hot water can scald a young child’s skin far faster than an adults and so bathing is always an area to be extra careful. Every year 2500 children are treated in the UK for bath water scalding.
- Also be aware of the slipping danger in a bath – so use stick on anti-slip bath pads or mats.
- Stairs & Windows
- All stairs present an obstacle to a child and they should be supervised at all times. A fully carpeted stair offers some protection from a fall – but not much, so always fit heavy duty stair gates at the top AND bottom. They come in different heights too – so choose one that is appropriate for your child’s size.
- Always keep stairs clear and never store items on them.
- Never put furniture that can be climbed on underneath a window and ensure that window locks are fitted that can also be opened quickly in an emergency.
- Other areas
- Although you would like to give your child 100% of your time and attention, we all know that is not going to be possible – the phone rings, the doorbell goes etc – and in those short moments of distraction, the worst can happen. So invest in a safety play pen that holds a few toys of interest to the child so that you can pop them in when you need to be distracted. If you populate it with some toys that the child likes and doesn’t see too often then you might not start a crying/tantrum episode 🙂
- Use safety harnesses on all strollers and pushchairs, as well as on highchairs and during the early stages of walking outside.
- Be very aware of the danger of nappy sacks which are made from very flimsy plastic and are often scented. They can cause suffocation if played with, so consider a Nappy Disposal System which removes this risk and also provides antibacterial protection too.
As the child develops, include safety training in your day to day behaviours. Let them know what is dangerous and when they are ready, explain to them why. Show them the safe way to do things and how to minimise the risks.
General Safety Advice
- Children should be supervised at all times
- Keep floors free of toys and obstructions that can be tripped over
- Always use a securely fitted safety harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair
- Never leave babies unattended on raised surfaces
- Do not place baby bouncers on raised surfaces – they could fall off with the movement of the baby
- Always use rear hotplates when cooking and turn the pan handles away from the front of the cooker
- Keep hot irons, curling tongs and hair straighteners out of reach even when cooling down.
- Choose toys appropriate to the age of the child
- Ensure that small objects such as marbles and peanuts and small toys are kept out of reach of children under three years old
- Encourage older children to keep their toys away from their younger playmates
- Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach
- Keep animals, especially cats, out of the bedroom and use a net on a pram
- Keep nappy sacks out of the reach of babies and young children
- Never store nappy sacks in or around the cot or pram.
- Small food such as grapes, cherry tomatoes, blackberries and other soft fruits should be cut into quarters to prevent choking.
Remember to make your home as safe as possible.