Even though your young child is preparing to attend school (3-years-old) or even in their first year (4-years-old)- they are still vulnerable to danger and need your supervision at all times.
Below are some hand reminders to help keep your home safe for them to be in.
Burns and Scalds
- An under 5s skin can be up to 15 times thinner than adults – meaning they burn easier, feel the heat quicker (from sun, hot water, or appliances)
- This age group burns or scalds at lower temperatures than adults and will cover much more of their small bodies
- Hot drinks cause the most scalds in this age group – a hot drink can still scald them 15 minutes later
- Hair straighteners are a growing concern as the number of burns are increasing. Keep them out of reach, even when cooling down
Fire guards: Ensure these are in place and fixed to the wall for all types of fire, be that wood-burning, gas, electric or halogen.
Matches, cigarette lighters and candles: Children may find these fascinating, but keep them out of reach and sight. Many lighters are child-resistant, but wily toddlers can often operate them anyway.
Cookers: Ask your little one to move out of the way when opening low-level oven and grills.
Hobs and hotplates: These will stay hot long after you’ve turned them off. Remind your child not to touch them every time, as they’re likely to forget or be curious even if you’ve told them previously.
Saucepans: Turn handles away from you, towards the back of your worktop and use the back rings whenever possible. Hot splashes can be a risk as well.
Hot drinks: Ensure hot drinks are placed well out of reach. Kettle cords should be tucked away to stop tempted hands from pulling on them. Look out for kettles with a curly flex power cord.
Microwaves: Babies bottles can heat up unevenly and can continue to heat once taken out of the microwave. This can leave hot spots of milk that can scald a baby’s mouth. Shake the bottle well after warming and test of the back of your hand. Ideally, use a warmer or a jug of hot water instead.
Irons: With temperatures of around 220°C they can cause severe burns. Always store away from sight after use, out of reach, with cords tucked away. Irons can retain their heat for up to 15 minutes after switching off.
Washing machine tablets: Liquid tabs are a hazard if ingested. As well as posing a poisoning risk, they are also caustic and can cause internal chemical burns. Keep them locked out of reach.
Hair straighteners, curling tongs, and hairdryers: Hair straighteners can still burn 30 minutes after being switched off. Leave them to cool out of reach. We’d advise using a heatproof cover or silicone pouch.
Cold before hot: You can make sure bath time is a safe time by running the cold tap first, then add the hot slowly until it is at the correct temperature for your child.
The elbow test: This is the quickest way to check the temperature is right for your child. Dipping your elbow into the water will provide a good indicator of how it will feel for your baby or toddler. It shouldn’t feel hot or cold.
Thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs): These devices centrally control the temperature of the hot tap, so that you can have a nice hot bath, and can prevent children from being scalded from very hot water. Some newer houses and flats have TMVs already installed on the taps. If you don’t have them, you can get them installed by a professional.
Many scalds happen when a child gets into the bath before it’s ready, they turn on the hot tap when they’re in the bath, or lean over to pick up a floating toy and fall in the bath. Keep a watchful eye on your little one.
Barbecues: The coals stay hot for a long time, even when all the food has gone. Disposable barbecues can be tipped into a bucket of cold water to help them cool quicker.
Bonfires: Keep young children a safe distance from the fire and supervise them carefully.
Fireworks: Children under five shouldn’t hold sparklers and don’t really understand why they might be dangerous. Try placing the sparkler in a carrot, so they have something large and safe to hold, and so they’re not confused about which end to pick up.
Skin does not have to be peeling or blistering to be burned. If the skin is pink or red it is sunburnt.
Spend time in the shade when the sun is at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm. Cover up with a t-shirt, hat and sun glasses. A long-sleeved t-shirt helps protect delicate skin and a hat with a brim shades the face and back of neck.
Use a sunscreen on the parts you can’t cover. Put lots of cream on and reapply often, especially if your child has been in the water. Remember that sun cream does not give 100% protection and that clothing and shade help too. Look out for creams with at least SPF 15 and 4 stars
For more information check out the link to Sunsmart at Cancer Research UK here
- Drowning is one of the main causes of accidental death in babies and young children.
- Babies and toddlers drown silently and can do so in just a depth of 3cms of water. Even rainwater collecting in a bucket can be a potential drowning hazard for a child.
- More babies and young children drown at home, in the bath, in garden ponds and paddling pools than anywhere else.
- Adult Supervision is the key to ensuring your child is safe when around water.
Supervision at bath times is still advisable. Education in this development category is key.
Begin teaching your child about the dangers of water around the home – like how ponds and swimming pools are a drowning hazard for them.
If you have a pond in your garden you may want to consider filling it in, or fencing it off to ensure your child doesn’t fall into it.
A paddling pool in the garden is a great source of fun for children on sunny days. But once they have finished playing in it, empty it straight away.
Also, be alert to what friends and family have in their homes and gardens and be mindful of the potential dangers.
Once you have finished with the bathwater, pull the plug straightaway.
- Most falls happen when children take their parents by surprise.
- Serious head injuries and fractures can lead to a permanent disability of a young child.
- Small changes around the home can help prevent injuries.
Show children how to hold on to the bannister on the stairs when going up or down and remind them not to run or play on the stairs.
Ensure your child is the right age to play on home equipment like trampolines or climbing frames. It’s a good idea to check the equipment regularly and make sure it is secure and safe to use.
Public parks and playgrounds generally have modern equipment that meet the British Standard. However, adult supervision is most important to prevent the risk of a serious injury.
Child injury experts currently have concerns about mobile device distraction when adults are looking after children. Keep your attention on your child.
Encourage children to always wear a cycle helmet whenever they’re on their bikes or scooters.
Giving your garden a safety makeover means your child can have fun without getting injured. It’s best to put play equipment over something soft like a mat, soft earth or well-watered grass. If you’ve got paving slabs, check they’re level and not cracked to avoid trips or falls.
- Paracetamol poisoning is the most common way for children to be poisoned.
- The popular strawberry-flavoured liquid paracetamol that is widely available, is liked by most little ones. A young child may try and drink from the bottle if it’s left unattended.
- Everyday tablets that you might keep in your handbag or bedside cabinet, may appeal to children as they can look like sweets.
- Child-resistant tops and tablets in strip and blister packs help to slow children down but they are not childproof.
- Liquid detergent capsules, dishwasher tabs and concentrated liquids are caustic and can cause internal chemical burns if swallowed. The capsules and tabs can come in boxes that aren’t child-resistant. All these items should be stored out of the reach of children and, preferably, locked away.
- Button batteries (lithium) have caused severe injury to several young children when swallowed. When a battery becomes stuck in a child’s throat, it releases caustic soda (a chemical used to unblock drains) which will burn through a child’s organs and blood vessels.
- E-cigarettes and liquids are a poison risk to young children. The attractive bottles of liquid nicotine can be mistaken for juice and are easy to open.
- Ensure you have household appliances regularly checked for carbon monoxide levels.
Children between three to five are much more likely to be able to open child-resistant tops, so continue to keep items – from medicines to chemicals – locked away and out of their reach.
There is growing evidence that the liquid nicotine refills from e-cigarettes pose a significant poisoning risk to young children.
Hospitals are reporting growing numbers of children accidentally swallowing liquid nicotine from e-cigarette refills. Nicotine is a highly toxic substance, through ingestion, inhalation or skin contact – especially for young children. Ingestion of only a tiny amount can be fatal.
A bulletin circulated to GPs and pharmacists in Northern Ireland in January 2016 stated less than 2mls can be fatal for an adult, and warns that it is very likely to be even less than this for a child.
Always remember to secure liquid refills away from your child’s reach and keep them locked away.
You can’t see, smell or taste it, but if carbon monoxide creeps out from a flame burning appliance it can kill children in seconds.
Always make sure that you have an audible carbon monoxide alarm fitted in your home – ideally one in every room with a fuel-burning appliance.
Strikes, Crushes and Jams
- Strikes can be defined as any object hitting your child.
- Think about objects that could fall onto your child, from flat-screen TVs to bookcases. Use additional fixing to item furniture to walls wherever possible.
- Injuries, depending on the amount of force or pressure the child suffers, can vary from bruising to broken bones.
- Jams occur most often when fingers or limbs are trapped between a moving object, from doors to bike chains or gaps in skirting boards.
As with younger children, education is key – as is supervision. Make sure they’re aware of how to stay safe and avoid dangers.
Threat to Breathing
- When a child is choking it can be silent. Ensuring food is cut into small pieces, that will not lodge in their airways, will lead to a reduction in the choking risk.
- Smaller fruits like grapes should not be given to a child whole and should be diced into smaller pieces.
- Asphyxia (choking, suffocation and strangulation) is the third most common cause of child accidental deaths in the UK. Most of these incidents involve under-fives.
- Older children should be encouraged to sit down when eating food, as this reduces the risk of choking.
- Suffocation mostly occurs in a cot or bed – occasionally on the sofa.
- Keep nappy sacks well away from changing areas and cots.
- Strangulation can occur from cords on clothing, chains on jewellery, ribbons on dummies and amber beads.
- Drawstrings on bags and cords from window blinds, and chains all pose a threat to your young child who may become entangled if the cord is left hanging.
- Most modern blinds now come with safety features to reduce this risk. The shop you purchase it from should provide you with the hooks or safety tools that aim to keep the cords out of your child’s reach.
At this stage, blind cords will pose the greatest risk, therefore, follow the advice above. Adults will need to be extra aware, as children will be curious and may experiment with items that can still cause choking, strangulation and suffocation risks.
Supervision of your child, as said many times above, is key to keeping them safe from harm.