A Guide to Reducing Children’s Injuries in the Home

commandex - A Guide to Reducing Children’s Injuries in the Home

The home is the place where children are supposed to be at their safest, however due to a number of factors, this is not always the case. All too often we hear about falls, burns, and other accidents that cause injuries and even more severe consequences for children. Whether your child is a baby or an energetic and mobile seven-year-old, there are ways to injury-proof your home, so that you can minimise the risk of an unexpected accident occurring.

Children and injuries

Childhood injuries are far more common than you might believe. More children die of injury than cancer, asthma, and infectious diseases combined. Around 250 children up to the age of 14 die in Australia each year, and 58,000 are injured in accidents, many of which are entirely preventable.

Parents can lower the risk of injury in their children by starting with preventative measures at home. General tips for injury preventioninclude the following.

  • Safe body – Make sure the activities your child is participating in are appropriate for their body weight and strength. They should be wearing the right safety gear, including helmets where necessary, and they should stay hydrated before, after, and during play. Other protective elements to use include hats and sunscreen for the outdoors, and encouraging them to warm up and stretch before the activity.
  • Safe environment – Children should play only in areas that are free of broken equipment, dangerous rubbish, and uneven surfaces. Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures, including severe heat on hot days or cold water in pools.
  • Safe skills – Keep kids safe by ensuring that they learn and practice the skills necessary for the activities they’re doing. These can include climbing, balancing, catching, swimming, and so on.

Preventing falls

Falls are the most common type of childhood injury seen in emergency departments around the world, and they can account for between 25% and 52% of assessments. Research suggests that one child falls from a balcony or window in the home every week in Australia. Supervision is always important, but you can use protective barriers, such as security screens and safety guards, to reduce access.

Security screens are vastly superior to fly screens, and products such as SecureView Eclipx and Xceed Security Screens can provide a strong barrier for curious children, and reduce the risk of falls from windows.

Pay attention to how your child’s behaviour around the home changes as they grow. As your toddler becomes steady on their feet, you can start to install safety guards on stairs and balconies. Keep doors to balconies and windows locked, and use sensor lights to help older children safely find their way to the toilet at night.

Protect your children by using silicone (or other) corner protectors on tables, TV stands, and other sharp edges. Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on the bathroom floor, and never leave your baby unattended on tables, counters, or changing tables. Strap young children into seats and keep crib gates up so they can’t climb out. Choose canvas, rubber-soled shoes over stiff leather shoes when your baby starts walking.

Keeping safe in the water

Drowning accounts for 28% of unintentional injury deaths of children around the world. Whether it’s the bathroom or home swimming pool, supervision is essential, along with taking water-safety measures to keep your child safe around water.

Your swimming pool should have a pool fence and self-locking gate that meets the applicable Australian Standard (AS:1926). Make sure your child can swim independently before they’re allowed in the water; if not, have them take swimming lessons.

In the bath,directly supervise all children under the age of five and older children who need to be supervised. Never leave the responsibility to their siblings. Never leave your baby unattended in a bath. Use a bathroom and laundry lock to keep young children out of washing machines and bathtubs to eliminate the risk of drowning.

Protecting your children from household burns

Burns may account for as many as 96,000 deaths per year for young people up to the age of 20 around the world. Burns and scalds can be a threat to children in many areas of the home, including the bathroom, kitchen, the fireplace, and the barbeque. Use a screen on your fireplaces. Keep your attention on your child whenever they’re close to any area where they could be exposed to heat and be burned.

Keep stoves, ovens, heaters, and other appliances well out of their way, or use guards and stove knob protectors if your child will be nearby. Keep hot drinks and pot handles out of their reach, and avoid using water hotter than 50°C in the bathroom. Test the water before putting your baby in the tub. Check car seats before putting your child in the seat, as these can become very hot in summer. Always check your fire alarm regularly to make sure it’s working and change the battery as often as advised.

Preventing poisoning

Acute poisoning in children and young people is a significant cause of death, accounting for 45,000 deaths per year around the world. In the kitchen, keep your cleaning products in locked cabinets if they’re low enough for children to reach, or store them in high cabinets where your child can’t reach. Any other potential poisons, such as garden supplies, pesticides, car oils, laundry cleaning products, alcohol, and medicines must be kept up high in locked cupboards.

Use child safety latches on the doors of cupboards where necessary. Rinse chemical containers well before disposing of them, and make sure your child can’t reach the recycling or trash bin to retrieve them. Use lead-free and low-toxicity paints and varnishes around the home, and check all garden plants and houseplants for poisonous species.

Reducing the risk of suffocation

Window cordsare a frequent cause of strangulation in children, so use cordless window coverings where you can. Keep your children away from any pull cords, and use cord shorteners, wind-ups, and safety tassels to keep them away from curious children. Keep dry pet kibble away from your child, as when they’re young, this can pose another choking hazard.

Other potential suffocation risks to watch out for include mobiles, bumpers, blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals. Only use these or give them to your baby if you’ll be supervising your child.

Making sure your electrics are child-safe

Have your electrician install safety switches that cut off power instantly to prevent electrocution. Replace electrical appliances and cords as soon as they’re worn, and use sliding covers on electrical outlets instead of the more common plug-in outlet covers, which can be choking hazards.

Being aware of glass

Use stickers at eye level to your child to keep them aware and away from glass doors and surfaces. Use safety glass in windows and doors, or have shatter-resistant film applied to these surfaces.

Other risks for your child

Always keep bookcases and other tall furniture items firmly secured against the wall with bolts, screws, and other devices so that you child can’t pull these over or be injured if they climb on the item. TVs, likewise, should be firmly secured to the wall. Use safety guards on sharp handles, door corners, and drawer edges to reduce the risk of bumps and injured fingers. Keep hardware supplies and electrical drills and appliances out of the reach of children.

Keeping your child safe at home

The home is often overlooked when it comes to child safety, but it can present numerous hazards to babies and children. You can reduce the risk of injury at home by child-proofing your home as soon as you bring your baby home and continuing to upgrade your safety measures and preventative behaviours as your child becomes more mobile around the house.