You would be amazed by some of the things I have heard or seen children trying to do, and if we are being realistic we can't wrap our children up in cotton wool or bubble wrap! We have to let them have adventures and make mistakes and sometimes hurt themselves just so that they can understand why they shouldn't be climbing up there or touching that. OK I'm not saying I think they need to seriously injure themselves or anything, but how are we going to teach a child that doing certain things will hurt if they don't understand what pain is. And don't get me wrong I'm the first to jump or flinch if my daughter wobbles too close to the fire guard or tries to climb the stairs without supervision, but I also know she is going to bump her head or cut herself at some point. We all want to keep our little ones safe whether it be in the home or when they are out and about. As a parent we don't just need eyes in the back of our head we need them on the side and on top too! We also need to be several steps ahead of them. It is of course inevitable that at some point all children will hurt themselves somehow, but if we can just have minor cuts and grazes and not trips to A&E I think we would all be happier.
There are too many hazards to mention and far too many to ever be 100% aware of, but if we watch out for major hazards around hopefully we can prevent them.
Child Safety Week is run by the Child Accident Prevention Trust. Their annual campaign aims to raise awareness of the number of accidents that happen and how we can try to prevent them.
Creating a safer environment for our children and educating them about dangers is the key to preventing accidents. Helping our children to make informed decisions will teach them about their safety and make them aware. I attended first aid courses every three years when working in nurseries and would recommend them to parents. Even if you never have to use the techniques you learn you will find that you feel more empowered just having the information stored in your head. They will also talk about dangers around the home which helps you to become more conscious. I have had a quick look around my house and out and about to look at potential dangers and how we can try to prevent them.
When you get to control the environment make sure you are happy that everyone is safe.
- Burns and scalds- these can be caused by kettles, hot drinks, saucepans, hot plates, candles, bath water, iron, cigarettes, matches, even hair straighteners. Most electrical appliances stay hot for quite a while even after they have been turned off. Children's skin is up to 15 times thinner than an adults and can burn within 5 seconds under a hot tap. When running a bath ensure the cold water is put in first. Turn all saucepan handles inwards, don't leave hot drinks within reach, put a fire guard up...Ensure you have smoke alarms fitted, that they work and are checked regularly!
- Stairs and Trip Hazards-for very young children ensure you have stair gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. Trip hazards can be anything and this is a good way of encouraging your children to tidy up all of those stray toys and shoes!
- Falls- balconies, windows. Ensure windows cannot be opened fully and that children are not left on balconies unattended.
- Poisoning- tablets can look like sweets to children! Make sure you have locks on medicine cupboard, put medicines in a high shelf/cupboard, and keep bleach and other cleaning fluids locked away and out of sight. Once your children are old enough talk to them about the safe use of medicine and cleaning fluids.
- Carbon monoxide-a silent killer. Fit a carbon monoxide alarm in your house and have all flame burning appliances serviced regularly.
- Blind cords-this is a hot topic at the moment. If you already have blind cords fitted or you visit somewhere that does make sure the cords are fastened high up so that they don't come unwound and children can't reach them. If you are looking at having blinds fitted think about blinds that do not have cords on them or ones that are fitted with a cord safety feature. Do not position cots, beds or furniture directly under blinds to prevent your child climbing up to reach the cord.€‹
Safety Out and About
- Correctly fitted carseats prevent death and serious injury. All children under 12 years old who are under 135cm in height have to use a child restraint. It's the law!
- Strangers-teach your children about stranger danger. Let them know that there are €˜safe' strangers that they can talk to if they get lost or need help and you are not with them-police, paramedic, lollipop person
- Falls-children tend to fall over their own feet but there are other real hazards we need to be aware of when we are out and about-concrete steps, balconies, climbing frames and other play equipment to name a few. Make sure your child is supervised if on high play equipment or out on a balcony.
- Road safety-even though when I take my daughter out she is usually in her pushchair I still encourage her to look at the lights when we stop to cross the road and I talk about the green man. I figure the quicker I can teach her about road safety the safer she will be when she starts being more independent and walking places more. She already says €œgo go!€ when the green man appears now and she is only 16 months. Show your children how to cross the road safely (lead by example!)
- BBQs-great fun, but if they are not supervised they can be dangerous! Remember that even after you have turned them off, or the flames have gone out the coals and grills will stay very hot for quite a long time.
- Water-ponds, rivers, lakes, the sea, swimming pools-ensure your children are supervised when around these hazards. If they are going swimming or to the beach and need inflatable's/armbands make sure they have them. I feel it is so important for children to learn to swim and my husband and I started taking our little one to lessons when she was 3 months old. It is such an important skill to learn and builds confidence.
- Fireworks-ooo, ahhh, pretty! However children still need to be taught not to touch fireworks they find lying on the ground and not to play with matches and lighters.
- Weed killer, repellent-make sure you keep chemicals in their original packaging and bottles so that children can see it's not a drink and so that you have safety instructions and contents in case the contents are digested and the hospital needs to know what was taken. Keep all of these chemicals well out of your child's reach.
- Cycling is great family fun! Just make sure your children have road awareness before they go out. Lots of schools offer cycling proficiency-lessons in cycling and road safety-I remember doing mine when I was in middle school and think it's a great thing for all children to take part in. Make sure young children are supervised and that everyone wears a helmet and has lights on their bikes. Make sure you repair and service all bikes regularly and you also take a bike pump on your ride. Bike rides with all of the family are what Summer is all about!
It has become a standing joke now when we take my daughter to visit her Grandparents and Great Grandparents to €œClear the Decks€. Almost as soon as we walk through the front door stair gates are being closed, doors to the kitchen are being shut the fire guard is going up.......
Ria has 2 girls and previously worked in nurseries for over 15 years and left managing a day nursery when her eldest was born. She now works for Raring2go! as our Digital Content and Strategy Manager
If you are interested in writing for Raring2go! or featuring on our site please email Ria.