With the recent family safety week having taken place from 24th -28th March 2014 which was launched by ROSPA (Royal Society Prevention of Accidents) it has brought the question of home safety to the forefront of many families minds and quite rightly so.
If you examine your home from a child or toddlers perspective it’s a minefield of potential accidents waiting to happen from the cleaning products we keep, to falls on the stairs, and even from something as ordinary as hot water, and sadly lately we have seen a rise in child strangulation caused by blind cords.
Accidents in the home are deemed to be the biggest killer of children and young people under the age of 19 and according to ROSPA the biggest risk group are the under 5’s.
If you look at the most common lists of accidents each day in Great Britain according to the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) 262 children will die from burns, 129 from falls and since 1999 CAPT has discovered 27 children have died following strangulation from blind cords and 2014 saw new standards being brought in to try and reduce these figures.
Children and young people have skin 15 times thinner than adults so will burn at much lower temperatures, and the burn will penetrate much deeper. The most common household cause of burns are hair straightners even turned off and unplugged the ceramic irons are so hot they could burn a child for up to 8 minutes after use. To avoid this please make sure when you finish with them they are placed well out of reach. Hot bath water is another main cause, try running the hot and cold taps together and keeping the bathroom door shut and children well supervised to avoid inquisitive hands plunging into the scalding water. In the kitchen make sure kettle flexes, are towards the back of the worktops and always ensure saucepan handles are angled towards the back of the hob to avoid a child accidentally grabbing them and pulling them down. With hot drinks as much as possible it’s best to try and place them on a shelf or mantle piece to keep them out of a child’s reach and teach them from a young age they drinks are hot and not to touch.
Falls most commonly happen when a child takes a parent by surprise by suddenly rolling off a changing table, or tipping out of a bouncy chair. To limit these risks, the safest place to change your baby is always on the floor or in the cot where they are surrounded by sides to keep them safe. Never place bouncy chairs etc on high surfaces and when using highchairs, pushchairs etc they should always come with a 5 point harness which should be securely fastened. Children do have a tendency to climb so make sure there is nothing under window they could use to aid their efforts. It is also advisable to only open top windows rather than the large side windows which will stop them managing to fall out. Try to also keep stairs clear of toys and clutter as this will also reduce risks of trips and it may be prudent to place stair gates at the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent your child climbing up them unsupervised. As soon as your child is attempting to pull themselves into a standing position it’s a good idea to lower the cot base to prevent them from falling out. Most cots have adjustable height bases to facilitate this.
In line with the new standards for blind safety is it suggested that parent’s review the blinds and shutters in their home to go over to the “wand” operating system rather than the cords and chains that were used previously. It is estimated that in the UK there are 200 million blinds in homes. If you still have some of the old style blinds it is advisable there is no furniture near them in order to reduce the risk of children climbing and becoming tangled. It is best to buy “cleats” these are attached to the wall to keep the cords out of a child’s reach. The website Make It Safe http://www.makeitsafe.org.uk gives a great run down of how to make existing blinds safe and to make you fully aware of the risks and how to eliminate them.
Cheryl Parkes - https://www.facebook.com/angeltrainingfirstaid
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