According to RoSPA, accidents are the biggest killer of children and young people. Every week at least one child under the age of five is killed because of an accident.
We are very safety conscious at Larkfleet Homes. Your happiness and safety in your new home is important to us. That’s why we have pulled together some simple tips for things that you can do to keep your home as safe as possible for your kids.
There are five common areas of safety concern that affect children: household poisoning, choking, falls, bath time and bed time.
- Keep all household chemicals – including liquid laundry capsules – out of the sight and reach of children, preferably high up in a locked cupboard.
- Use cupboard locks to keep small children away from potentially dangerous products.
- Always store household cleaning chemicals in their original containers.
- Replace lids and put all products away immediately after use.
- Dispose of unwanted household cleaning products safely.
- Bedtime can also be medicine time for poorly little ones. Lock it away afterwards so it’s not in reach - even if it does have a child-resistant cap.
- Be aware of adult medicine too. Tablets in your handbag can be tempting for an inquisitive toddler.
- Keep all medication out of reach, preferably in a locked cupboard.
- Common garden chemicals, such as slug pellets, solvents, paint or plant food, can all be deadly if swallowed by children. Be sure to put away all chemicals when you’ve finished with them. A locked shed is the safest place.
- Some garden plants, such as bright red yew berries, laburnum pods and foxgloves, are especially attractive to small children. They’re also incredibly toxic, possibly leading to death. Always read the label carefully if you’re buying new plants. If you’re unsure about the existing plants in your garden, visit a flower shop or garden centre for more advice.
- Also look out for alcohol, raw meat and animal faeces, especially cat and dog poo.
Choking is a leading cause of death for children under the age of three. Make sure you –
- Always cut up food - Babies and young children can choke on small, sticky or slippery foods. Always cut foods like tomatoes, grapes and blackberries into quarters. Make sure sausages are cut into very small pieces.
- Keep small objects out of little hands - Babies and toddlers examine things around them by putting them in their mouths. Keep surfaces clear of small toys like building bricks and marbles, and always clean up after playing, especially if you have older children.
- Sit them down to eat - Children are more likely to choke if they slip or trip while eating. Make sure children sit down to eat and drink, and not lie down, walk or run.
- Stay within arm’s reach - Always supervise babies and young children.
Falls are on of the most common accidents in the home. While it’s not always possible to stop them, you can take steps to help prevent them:
- Never place furniture near windows, especially in bedrooms. It’s amazing what toddlers can use as a ladder.
- Make sure all upstairs windows have a window restrictor fitted. This allows windows to open enough to allow fresh air in, but not children out.
- Keep stairs free from clutter that could cause you or your little one to slip.
- Fit wall mounted safety gates at the top AND bottom of the stairs.
- Stairs should be carefully maintained.
- Damaged or worn carpet should be repaired or removed.
- Make sure balustrades are strong and do not have any footholds for climbing stairs should always be well lit.
- 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 change nappies on the floor, rather than on a high table top or sofa.
- Always use a securely fitted five-point harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair.
- Keep garden play equipment like swings, slides and climbing frames well-maintained.
Bath time –
Although bath time can be a fun activity, accidents can happen. It’s important to take a few simple steps to keep your little people safe.
- Children’s skin is thinner than adults so they’re more at risk of scalds from hot water. When filling a bath, run cold water first and then add hot water afterwards. Mix the water well to make sure there aren't any hot spots which could scald your child.
- As the temperature can change quickly, put your little one in the bath only once you’ve finished running it and checked the temperature. (It’s true that you’re more likely to feel if it’s too hot if you use your elbow).
- A thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) controls the temperature of water as it comes into the bath so that it’s hot enough to enjoy a good soak, but not hot enough to scald. If you don’t already have one, you might want to think about getting one fitted.
- Always stay within arm’s reach of your little one when they’re in the bath. Wet soapy babies are slippery. If they slide down, or roll over, they can’t always right themselves, and you won’t always hear them trying. So even if the phone rings, or the doorbell goes, stay where you can see them.
- Baby bath seats might look helpful, but by leaving your hands free they can provide a false sense of security. As babies can drown quickly, quietly, and in only a few centimetres of water, you’re better off without one – supervision really is key.
- Energetic toddlers and wet, slippy baths don’t go well together! A non-slip bath mat, or stickers, can help avoid a nasty fall.
- Remember, when it comes to dangerous medicines, cosmetics and cleaning products, take action today, put them away - high up or in a cabinet equipped with a safety lock.
Bed time –
Taking a few simple steps can ensure that your child’s bedroom is a safe and comfortable place to sleep.
- Children can easily get tangled up in dangling blind cords, which can choke them. Don’t use blinds with looped cords in a child’s bedroom. If you have blinds with cords elsewhere in your home, wrap the cords up and keep them out of reach using a “cleat”.
- Nappy sacks, like other plastic bags, can be dangerous. Find a place for them that is not in reach.
- If there’s a rug in your child’s room, taping down the underside can stop a fall.
- Keep babies’ cots free from clutter like soft toys, cot bumpers and soft, pliable bedding. These can mould around a baby’s face and lead to suffocation.
- Buy a new cot mattress, or - if using a second-hand mattress - carefully check that it's clean, dry and free from cracks or tears. It should fit the cot snugly, with no gaps.
- Choose a cot that meets the British safety standard (BSEN716) as it will have been designed to reduce the number of accidental deaths due to suffocation and strangulation.
- Cots with bars on all four sides can allow air to circulate freely. The bars should be vertical. If they are horizontal your baby could use them as a ladder to climb out. They should also be no more than 6.5 cm apart so your baby can’t get stuck between them.
- Second-hand cots should be approached with caution. Those from before 1973 may contain lead-based paint. If there is a drop-side mechanism, check it works properly. Also look out for any old stickers or decorations that could come loose and become a choking hazard.
- Babies are less able to control their temperature, so the cot shouldn’t be near a radiator or sunny window.
- Putting babies at the bottom of the cot (so their feet touch the end) can stop them squirming down and suffocating under bedding.
- Cot bumpers can do far more harm than good. Not only can the ribbon strangle kids, the bumper itself can be used by children to climb out of the cot. All-in-all, you’re better off without them.
- Never use a pillow with a baby less than 12 months old, there is no benefit to baby and it could cause suffocation.
- While we know it’s impossible to watch a child all the time, you should still never leave a baby unattended on a raised surface, such as a bed. It only takes a moment for them to roll off, and the results can be devastating.
- Electric blankets or hot water bottles can be bad news for babies. If you are worried about the cot being too cold you could use one that is removed before the baby goes in.
- Babies who overheat are at an increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). They can get too hot because the room is too hot, or because they have too much bedding or clothing. The ideal room temperature is between 16 and 20ºC.
- The best way to keep babies safe when they’re sleeping is in a cot of their own. Some babies have been accidentally suffocated by their parents while co-sleeping/bed-sharing. The risk increases if you’ve been drinking alcohol, smoking or taking drugs, or if your baby was born prematurely.
- Because of the risk of suffocation, use blankets or a lightweight sleeping bag (without a hood) for children under 12 months old, rather than a duvet or quilt.