This week is Child Safety Week in the UK. This year’s theme is "Family life today: where’s the risk?"
This is a subject close to our hearts here at Mini First Aid as more than 75% of under 5’s who die in an accident, do so in the home.*
With this in mind, we have teamed up with Fred Safety to raise awareness of the potential dangers in and around your home and how to prevent accidents from happening.
Identify the risks
Family life is more complex than ever before and unfortunately, risks to our children are EVERYWHERE around the home. Parents have never been able to keep an eye on children all the time, but this is harder now that mobile phones are so good at grabbing our attention and parents are juggling complicated work/life balances.
Every week 60 under 5’s are hospitalised as the result of a burn or scald* and it’s little wonder when hair straighteners, irons, hot drinks, ovens, fireplaces, radiators and towel rails are all within easy reach. Plug sockets are also a temptation for little fingers and children often like to copy what their parents do which means plugging things in at any opportunity. This puts them at risk of electrical shock, although this risk is actually quite small. The bigger risk is plugging something in that could then damage your child (e.g hair straighteners) or potentially cause a house fire.
Shockingly, every week, over 100 under 5’s are hospitalised for accidental poisoning.* There are SO many opportunities for young children to get their hands on substances that you may not immediately recognise as poisonous: E-cigarette refills, squeezy washing tablets, air fresheners (reed diffusers even look like a drink with a straw!), cleaning products left next to the loo, toiletries and perfumes in the bathroom, pills in a bedside cabinet or alcohol left out at a BBQ. All these things and more are potential hazards in your home, so it is important to get down to your child’s level and think about all the things you can see and reach that might be dangerous.
Suffocation is another risk to babies and young children - plastic bags, nappy sacks, window blind cords, cot bumpers and electrical cables all pose a threat to your child but can easily be tidied away and kept out of reach. Whilst on the topic, did you realise that a child can drown in just 5cm of water? Never leave your child unattended in the bath and fence off any areas of water in your garden such as ponds, fountains, hot tubs or swimming pools.
Trips and falls are often responsible for a trip to A&E so think about stairs and steps, slippery floors and rugs, as well as potential climbing hazards like bookcases, drawers and other furniture.
Act now and stop accidents in their tracks
Now that you have identified the risks in your home, you can prevent accidents from happening with some simple safety hacks that will help remove the dangers. Make your house a safe environment for children using the following checklist:
- Begin by putting any hazardous materials such as cleaning products, medicines, toiletries etc into cupboards and drawers, and install child safety locks to prevent little ones from accessing the contents. Fred drawer and door locks are very quick and easy to install, and you don’t need DIY tools or experience, so it’s hassle free.
- Use a cable tidy to wrap any loose electrical cables and tuck them out of reach behind a cabinet. Put your chargers, hair dryer, straighteners, iron etc away when they are not in use and replace with plug socket covers that are very difficult for little ones to remove but easy for adults when you need to access the socket again.
- Protect your little ones from burns in the kitchen by moving kettles and toasters to the back of the worktop and installing a hob guard so that they can’t reach the stove or saucepans. You might like to create an area in your kitchen where your children can play safely using a play pen or something similar.
- Install a stair gate at the top and bottom of your stairs and put anti-slip tape on wooden or tiled steps to prevent trips and falls. You can also use anti-slip tape underneath rugs on slippery floors so that they don’t slide around when children (or adults!) are stepping on them.
- If you have bookcases or drawers that could tip if a child climbs on them then you will need to anchor these to the wall. This is particularly important in children’s bedrooms or playrooms where a child may be left unattended and furniture is more likely to be lightweight MDF which poses a higher tip risk than solid wooden furniture. Anti-tip kits from Fred attach the furniture to the wall quickly and easily and are uniquely designed to work with MDF and chipboard.
- Install door slam stoppers on all internal doors to stop little fingers getting trapped, use window locks on all of your windows (make sure you remove the keys if you have inbuilt window locks), use window cord safety kits if you have fitted blinds, and remove curtain ties if you have them.
- Use a choke tester from Fred to check small items such as toys, coins, buttons and food - if they fit inside the choke tester then they are a choking hazard and should be put away in a locked cupboard or drawer. This is particularly important for families with older siblings as their toys may be hazardous for younger children - get them involved in testing their toys and they will understand the importance of keeping them out of reach.
- Use a child lock on anything tempting to children that poses a potential risk eg. the toilet seat lid, rubbish bin, fridge or freezer. The multi-purpose lock from Fred can be adapted for almost any use so it is the perfect solution for these 'hard to baby-proof' areas.
- Go shopping for some essential home safety items that every family should have; a first aid kit, bath thermometer, anti-slip bathmat, baby monitor, fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, night lights, fire extinguisher and fireplace guard.
Sit back and admire your work!
Once you have finished identifying and removing the risks in your home, you are free to enjoy these lovely years when your baby learns by exploring the world around them! So . . . sit back, relax and have a cup of tea while your little one plays safely. Just remember to keep your hot cup of tea out of baby's reach!
*Statistics from ROSPA
To celebrate Child Safety Week we've teamed up with our good friends at Fred Safety to bring you an amazing home safety bundle! We've got a Clear-View Stair Gate, a Fred Safety Home Safety Starter Pack and a Mini First Aid Kit up for grabs for one lucky winner! This prize is simply a MUST HAVE for any home with little people!