Accidents in the home how to prevent them
Children have an inquisitive nature. They are also learning and have a limited experience of the world and its dangers. This can be a difficult combination. Children learn by touching, by clambering and climbing, by putting things in their mouths (or up their nose), and in all sorts of other ways we adults have since forgotten about.
An all-too common trip to A and E
It’s estimated that 2 million children under 15 turn up in accident and emergency each year after being injured at home. Children under 5 are the most likely to have an accident at home, and of those, the majority are boys (NHS Choices).
While still developing co-ordination, and with so little knowledge of the nature of the objects around them, children can be very accident prone. Every new development in their mobility represents an increase in their likelihood of encountering dangerous situations. Firstly with crawling, then once they can stand and walk, the time it can take for our child to find trouble reduces drastically.
Taking a look at the most common injuries
The most common injuries come from burns and from falls. Most homes have fires or radiators, or heaters of some kind, then there is hot water from the taps and the kettle, as well as hot drinks. Even the piping for the central heating system and towel rails need to be thought of, not to mention irons and hot light sources – less of a problem now in the days of halogen and LED bulbs. There are also naked flames from candles, gas cookers and open fires.
Stairs are the most obvious culprit for falling injuries, but even if you are all on one level, there are plenty of other ways for your adventurous little tyke to take a tumble. Once they are able to climb, young children see everything looming above their own diminutive height as a challenge. For a toddler, falling from the back of a sofa could be the equivalent of falling from the top of a flat-roofed garage for an adult.
Other typical causes of injury can include (but are not limited to):
- Choking – from jewellery or from inappropriately aged toys, or certain foods
- Suffocating – plastic bags and cats in cots, but can include strangulation from blind cords and electrical cords
- Poisoning – those household cleaners and chemicals like paint stripper. Medicines, as well
- Fires – any naked flame, particularly candles
- Drowning – Ponds, being left unattended in the bath
- Glass – drinking glasses, mirrors and glass furniture, or broken glass not properly cleared
- Shocks – any electrical items
- Other sharp objects – knives, worn metal or splintered wood, DIY tools
“Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean my child won’t injury themselves”
This all paints a very bleak picture. A person can read an article like this and can become an extremely paranoid parent. This is not healthy for our children, either. The point is to be sensible, to strike a balance between vigilance and caution on one hand, while letting our children explore their world as they grow on the other. Here are some general preventative steps that, if followed, should go a long way to securing your home as a safe environment for your child:
- Ensure toys are appropriate for the age of the child and conform to the relevant safety standards
- Watch for small objects of all kinds. Think about their food, particularly things like peanuts and grapes
- Encourage your child to either eat or play. Not both.
- Pull cords on curtains and blinds are a big hazard. Either use a different system, or secure out of reach by knotting the cord or by using a cord cleat
- Look at where your electrical cords are. Keep electrical items away from your child
- Never leave children with any sort of string or necklace, or with plastic bags
- Never leave pets, particularly cats, alone with young children. If you have a cat, make sure they cannot enter the child’s room when they are asleep
- Store medicines out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet
- Store all chemicals out of reach. Keep them in original, labelled containers
- Never leave young children alone in the bath tub or near a pond
- Children new to crawling and walking must be supervised at all times
- Hot objects should never be placed near the edge of any surface they are on
- Use a fireguard for open fires and heaters
- Use gates to restrict access, particularly to stairs
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it highlights some principal dangers in most areas and can be expanded upon. With the best will in the world, you will never prevent all accidents, as at least some accidents are part of a child’s development. But if something bad should happen, remember: Don’t panic, remove any offending item, call an ambulance and call for help if someone is near, and (learn and) perform CPR, if necessary.
Image Credits: Sharizah