You can never completely ‘child-proof’ your home. However, you can reduce the risk of injuries and accidents by making a few changes to your home and keeping your child under constant supervision.
Unintentional injury is one of the leading causes of childhood death and is the most common cause of emergency hospital admissions. Your preschooler is becoming more aware of hazards like cars and stoves, and they might be more likely to understand and follow safety rules. At the same time, they’re also curious and want to explore.
Playing with things is how they learn. And if they are on a mission to discover how something works, your child might not remember the safety rules. It’s up to you to reduce the risks around your child.
Preventing unintentional injuries in the home
To keep your child safe, you must discover the risks and prevent or remove them from your home. Children at this stage will likely experience injuries in the home (e.g. Falls, burns, scalds, and food poisoning) than in other locations.
Falls are the most common cause of injury for children of all ages. The seriousness of the injury depends on the height the child falls from, the surface the child falls into and what the child may hit as they fall.
To minimise fall injuries, look at the environment from your child’s level. Use gates on stairways, balconies, and lock windows, particularly upper-storey windows, or install operable window guards so your child can’t fall out.
Use low-power night lights and an efficient torch to make looking after your child at night safer.
Use sensor lights for stairs and steps.
Put non-skid rubber mats in the bath and shower.
Don’t allow your child to walk or run while carrying sharp objects like scissors.
Ensure swings, slides and climbing equipment have soft fall materials underneath to a depth of 300mm.
Use bunk beds for children over nine years.
Preventing burns and scalds
The kitchen can be a dangerous place for your child, especially when you’re cooking. Hot liquids, grease and hot foods can spill on them and cause severe burns.
Find something safe for your child to do when you’re cooking.
Lock matches, cigarette lighters, and flammable liquids away and out of the reach of children.
Install a safety switch to prevent electrocution.
Keep hot drinks away from children and keep them away from stove pots, fireplaces, heaters, barbecues, etc.
Install a working smoke alarm system. Test your smoke alarms every month and change the batteries of the smoke alarms every year.
Young children tend to put every object they can find into their mouths, and common household chemicals and medicines often poison children.
Some safety suggestions include:
Keep all medicines and household products out of the reach and sight of your children, and put them safely after purchase or use.
Clean out your medicine cupboard regularly. Properly dispose of unwanted and out- of- dates medicines.
Avoid distractions while administering drugs. Double-check before administering.
Teach your child never to pick up or touch any insects they find, such as cockroaches, wasps or spiders.
Read warning labels and directions for use very carefully.
Child-resistant locks can be installed on most cupboards, especially where dangerous products like drain cleaners, bleaches, dishwasher powders, and so on are stored.
Preventing suffocation and strangulation
Many homes have everyday items that could strangle or suffocate a child. These items are soft toys, bedding, blinds, cords, ropes, bags, boxes and packaging materials.
Some essential key tips are;
Put children's cots, beds, high chairs or playpens away from the window, where they can’t reach the blinds or cords. The cords can get around children’s necks and strangle them while playing or sleeping.
Tie knots in plastic bags and keep them from the reach of children.
Be aware of the foods that can choke children, such as lollies, apples, meat and nuts.
Encourage your child to sit calmly and not gulp their meals.
Check toys regularly for any small parts that can become a choking hazard.
Car crashes are the greatest danger to your child’s life and health. To prevent injuries, correctly use a car safety seat whenever your child is in your car.
The safest place for all children to ride is in the backseat. If a child must be in the front seat, move the vehicle seat back as far away from the airbag.
Active adult supervision is paramount to safely navigating driveways, cars, roads, and parks. Holding your child’s hand near cars is a significant first step.
You can also teach your child about road safety, including how to be safe around parked cars and on footpaths and driveways.
A top tip for helping children learn about pedestrian and road safety is to describe what you’re doing, so your child can understand why it’s crucial. For example, ‘We always look both ways before we cross the road."
Do not allow your child to play or ride a tricycle in the street. Your child should play in a fenced yard or playground.
General home safety tips
Get a licensed electrician to do repairs.
Replace electrical appliances and cords immediately after their wear out.
Lock away hand tools like saws and drills, and keep lawnmowers, chainsaws, and other sharp tools out of reach.
Unplug tools whenever you take a break.
Keep first aid kits in the home and car. Take kits on holidays too. Adhere to the listed tips above to safeguard your children. Accidents happen in the slightest places, and you must keep them safe and free from harm.