It’s Child Safety Week this week, and on researching into the topic, we discovered a horrifying statistic, that accidents are the UK’S biggest killer of children. We asked our contacts at RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to give us some tips on how to keep our children safe in the home.
Our children are precious to us and as parents it is our duty to do all that we can to ensure they are protected from harm. Accidents are the UK’s biggest killer of children and the under-5s are most at risk in the home, particularly in the living/dining room area. The most serious accidents happen in the kitchen and on the stairs. Hospital admissions after accidents involving this age group have been rising by about five per cent per year. Falls account for about 48 per cent of home accidents involving under-5s. Scalds, burns, poisoning, cuts, suffocation, choking and strangulation are other key causes.
It’s important not to wrap children up in cotton wool and to remember that bumps and bruises are a normal part of childhood, but simple things, like looking around your home from a child’s point of view, can really help! This process can help parents, grandparents and carers to spot the more serious hazards in advance and take the necessary steps to remove the hazard altogether. For example, looped blind cords hanging within a child’s reach should be tied up to avoid the risk of accidental strangulation.
Unfortunately, RoSPA typically hears about one or two children dying after becoming tangled in looped blind cords in the UK each year. Research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months.
Young children should be supervised at all times and by making a few simple changes, the risk of an accident can be drastically reduced. Fitting safety gates on stairs helps protect babies and toddlers up to 24 months, but once children are older, keep stairs free of clutter and take time to teach them how to go up and down stairs safely and about the importance of not rushing on the stairs.
Poisonings are a key issue in the home for children as they are naturally inquisitive and often put things straight into their mouth. This is particularly dangerous if they come across cleaning products and medicines. Always keep medicines and cleaning products out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard and never decant a product into an unmarked container.
And remember, hot drinks cause most scalds to children under the age of five. A child’s skin is much more sensitive than an adult’s and a hot drink can still scald a child 15 minutes after being made.
It is worth remembering that children can also suffer burns after contact with open fires, cookers, cigarettes, matches, cigarette lighters and many other hot surfaces. Children also master the art of striking matches at a very young age, so keep matches well out of sight and reach.
So what else can you do to help reduce the risk?
- Never hold a hot drink and a child at the same time
- Put hot drinks out of reach and away from the edges of tables and worktops
- Encourage the use of a coiled flex or a cordless kettle
- Keep small children out of the kitchen whenever possible
- Always use rear hotplates first and turn the panhandles away from the front of the cooker.
For more advice on safety in the home, visit www.rospa.com/homesafety.