Babies are incredibly curious and keen to explore their environment; this is how they learn and develop into rounded individuals. Unfortunately, this natural curiosity often results in them hurting themselves and could even put their lives at risk. More accidents happen in the lounge/ living room than anywhere else in the home, but some of the most serious accidents occur in the kitchen and bathroom.
Emma Hammet RGN Authur of the bestselling first aid book 'Burns, Falls and Emergency Calls - the ultimate guide to prevention and treatment of childhood accidents' has put together this clear room by room guide to help you take simple measures to keep your little one safe.
As your baby becomes mobile, they will love exploring, and you may feel you need eyes in the back of your head trying to keep track of them. Children are incredibly tactile and want to touch everything, and ideally put it in their mouths too! It's all part of growing up - children need to take measured risks, and minor bumps and bruises are inevitable. They should not be wrapped in cotton wool, but making small changes and being more risk-aware will make your home considerably safer for them.
More than 1,000 children are admitted to hospital every year following accidents in the home. The most common accidents for under 4s are:
There are simple safety precautions that all households can easily adopt to minimise the risk of these potentially serious accidents.
General safety around living areas
- Place corner covers on sharp corners and use door-stops to prevent doors slamming.
- Never leave chairs, large plant pots or furniture near windows, work surfaces, balconies or anywhere dangerous that a baby or child could climb on to.
- Fit safety locks to windows.
- Be extremely careful with hot drinks; a cup of tea that has been left to cool for 15 minutes can still be hot enough to burn a child.
- Keep small items, toys designed for older children and batteries well out of children's sight and reach.
- Batteries (even apparently dead ones) can burn and prove fatal if swallowed.
- Always adhere to age guidance for toys and check the CE mark.
- Secure furniture, in particular bookcases, chest of drawers and televisions to the wall, to prevent them from toppling over if a child tries to climb up them.
- Keep pets away from small babies and never leave a pet unattended with a child.
- Be careful if visitors' handbags are left accessible to children as they could have choking hazards or tablets inside them. Some of the contents of granny's handbag could prove lethal!
Stairs & hallway
Every year, more than 4,200 children are involved in falls on the stairs and 4,000 children under the age of 15 are injured falling from windows. (RoSPA )
- Always hold onto the banister while carrying your baby up and down the stairs.
- Fit safety gates to stairs before your baby starts crawling and keep stairs clear of clutter.
- Teach your baby to come down the stairs backwards if they are new to walking.
An average of 13 children a day under the age of 4 suffer a severe injury from a burn or scald.
- Keep hot drinks out of reach; use a kettle with a short flex and keep it at the back of the work surface.
- Use the back rings of the cooker, turn pan handles away from the edge.
- Children can easily mistake a dishwasher or washing machine capsule/ tablet for a sweet - keep them out of site and out of reach. Cleaning products are strong alkali and will burn.
- Do not hang drawstring bags over the cot, or near a cot, as these can pose a strangulation hazard.
- Tie blind cords out of reach, fit blind cord clips or better still, buy blinds without drawstrings at all. Thereby removing this potential danger from your room.
- Bunk beds are not recommended for children under 6. Bed guards can be helpful to reduce the likelihood of your little one falling out of bed.
- Be very careful of hair straighteners, irons and other hot implements, and keep them and their flexes well out of reach. Remember how long they take to cool.
- Medicines should be securely locked away; a childproof container may only delay your little one getting at them.
- Run cold water into the bath first to stop the bottom from overheating. Use a bath thermometer as well as checking the temperature yourself before bathing babies.
- Fit fireguards and radiator guards and turn off heated towel rails.
- Always supervise water play - children can quietly drown in surprisingly small amounts of water (even just 3cm).
Taking a first aid course is the best way to ensure you are more risk-aware and most importantly, that you have the necessary skills to help your child if you need to.
Written by Emma Hammett CEO of First Aid for Life
First Aid for Life is an award-winning first aid training business, empowering parents and child carers with the skills and confidence to administer first aid and help in a medical emergency. All our courses encompass risk awareness, accident prevention and first aid for life-threatening emergencies and more minor medical mishaps.
It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visitwww.firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.