Family life today: where’s the risk?
Accidents are the main cause of death for children post-infancy, with many occurring in the home. During Child Safety Week (3-9 June) the Public Health Agency (PHA) is highlighting steps to make your home as safe as possible.
Hilary Johnston, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager with the PHA, said: “None of us wants to think about anything bad happening to our children, so it is important that we don’t ignore the risks but take steps to reduce the likelihood of children having an accident around the home.
“Accidents often happen when we’re distracted and can happen alarmingly quickly.
“Some of the most common causes of childhood accidents include burns from cookers, scalds from spillages, poisonings from hazardous household products, road accidents occurring during the busy home-time chaos, drowning in the bath, and falls.
“Internal window blind cords and chains can also pose a risk to babies, small children and vulnerable people who could injure or even strangle themselves on looped operating cords and chains.
“It is impossible to watch over our children 24 hours a day, so we must take steps to make the home environment as safe as possible. It is important that parents, relatives and carers check their homes and proactively take steps to make sure that children are kept safe.
“Child Safety Week acts as a reminder to everyone to reduce the risk of preventable accidents. It needn’t be another thing to do – by incorporating small changes into your routine, accident prevention will become a habit without having to think about it.
“Don’t leave it until it is too late – taking simple steps to make our homes safer for children is the best way to help prevent them having accidents,” concluded Hilary.
- examine every blind in your home. If they have a looped control chain or cord and do not have a safety device fitted, then you can easily install one of the many devices available.
- ensure that all operating blind cords and chains cannot be reached by children.
- move cots, beds and any furniture away from windows and blinds – remember children love to climb.
- when cleaning out kitchen cupboards and cabinets it is also important to put household cleaners and medicines away to avoid accidental poisoning or chemical burns. Make sure they are out of the sight and reach of children in a locked or high-level cupboard and clean up any spills.
- check that televisions, chests of drawers and shelving units are securely anchored to the wall as bulky, heavy furniture can seriously injure or even kill a small child if it falls on top of them.
- test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors regularly
- if carrying out any DIY, avoid falls from height by checking a ladder’s condition before use and get support from a friend
- stop and disconnect all electrical appliances and tools before repairing or cleaning them; only use tools/materials/products in accordance with their instructions
- always supervise children, especially when power tools and lawnmowers are being used, and tidy up all equipment straight after the job is done.
- empty the paddling pool after use
- if you have a pond, turn it into a sandpit, fence it in or cover it while your children are small. Be alert to drowning risks when you visit friends and family.
For more information see the Child Accident Prevention Trust website www.childsafetyweek.org.uk