Ten things in ten minutes to make your home safer during lockdown
Sadly, more than two million children have an accident every year. Lots of these are easily preventable. With schools closed with England in another period of ‘lockdown’ to curb the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), children are spending more time at home than normal. It’s possible therefore there will be an increase in the number of household accidents. One of our Public Health Specialists, Dr Natalie Daley, recommends that you can do today to keep the children in your house safe.
1) Check your smoke alarms
You are four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm that works. Test your smoke alarm before bed time tonight and talk to your children about what to do if they hear it for real. Put a recurring reminder in your phone to check them every month. Talk about what to do if you hear the alarm with your children.
2) Keep cleaning products, medicines and matches out of sight in secure, high level cupboards
Laundry and dishwasher liquid tablets, medicines, e-cigarette refills and air fresheners can all look edible to your curious little one. Keep these items in secure containers and out of reach or in cupboards with safety catches. Stand in your kitchen and bathroom and take a minute to think what your child could get to.
3) Learn how dangerous button batteries can be
We are really worried about button batteries and they are everywhere – in car keys, musical birthday cards, LED candles and imported toys. When swallowed by a child, they can get stuck in the throat and silently start producing strong acid that damages vital internal organs. Know where they are and make sure they’re safe. Act quickly if you ever think your child has swallowed a battery.
4) Make sure hair straighteners, hot pans and the iron are never left within reach of your child
Around one in 20 admissions to burns units for children involved incidents with hair straighteners. They reach temperatures more than double that of boiling water and often stay hot for more than 30 minutes after being turned off. Think where you keep them and how you make sure they stay safe; even when you’re in a hurry.
5) Look at your window blind cords through the eyes of your child and check they are out of reach or have a safety mechanism if caught around your child’s neck
Toddlers are particularly vulnerable as they are exploring the world but still lack full muscle strength to free a relatively heavy head if they get tangled. They also have weaker and smaller windpipes than adults, so can suffocate far more quickly. Check each blind in your house.
6) Secure tall cupboards, drawers and TVs to the wall so they can’t fall over
Heavy furniture falling on to children as they try and climb it, or get into it, can cause life-threatening injuries. What furniture in your house could fall and injure your child? Contact the shop for new safety fixings or order replacements is required as soon as possible.
7) Practice safe sleeping for your baby
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome claims the lives of four babies every week in the UK. Putting your child to sleep on their back, at the base of the cot and having that cot in the same room as you for the first six months of life makes a difference. Keeping your house smoke free and the room at the right temperature can also help. It can be hard to decide what to do when they’re crying at 2am, so make a promise to them now about how you’ll keep them safe tonight.
8) Secure upstairs windows with locks or catches, and keep your stairs safe
Birmingham Children’s Hospital sadly treats a number of children each year that have fallen from upstairs windows. Falls account for nearly half of all children’s accidents. Do you have stairgates and are windows your child could climb to locked with keys or an opening restrictor? Think how ingenious your child is normally and then take a second look at your window and stairs.
9) Never leave babies or small children alone in the bath
Baths and garden ponds are the most common places for children to drown. Babies can die silently in as little as 5cm of water. You’ll need to stay with your child at all times so be sure to get everything ready before you run a bath. If you realise you’ve forgotten something after you’ve put your child in the bath, take them with you to go and get it.
10) Know how to get help and advice if you need it
Watching your little one grow and explore the world around them can be an exciting and satisfying time as a parent. But juggling child care and managing day-to-day life can be hard, particularly with all of the changes currently happening around us. There is help available and taking just a few simple and cheap safety actions could make all the difference to your child’s safety. For more information on child safety, visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust’s website.