According to the NHS, approximately 2 million children require hospital treatment each year after being injured at home, with one quarter of those affected under the age of five. As those applying for social work assistant jobs will testify, taking actions to prevent avoidable accidents is simple and cost-effective, as the following points demonstrate:
Staircases pose a significant hazard for young children and parents should not be surprised at how agile even a six month-old baby can be once crawling is established! Stair gates, positioned at the top and bottom of a flight of stairs, are essential to protect your child from potentially life-changing or fatal falls. Gates with pressure mounted fixings are unsuitable for the top of staircases as they can easily be dislodged if pushed, so these gates should always be anchored to the wall.
A number of infant and child deaths have been reported in the media as a result of accidental hanging from window blind cords, which remain legal in the UK despite a concerted campaign by safety group RoSPA to have them made safer. Blind cords should always be kept well away from children’s beds and cots or, for a more reassuring solution, should be fitted with a child safety device.
Children love to investigate, especially if it involves inserting small object into the strange black holes on electrical sockets. Needless to say, a fatal shock is a very real possibility. Sockets that are not in use should always be covered with plastic safety covers to deter little ones from putting fingers or objects inside. Sockets that are used frequently can be made safe with a safety box that covers the entire socket with the plug inserted.
Household chemicals and medicines
Household cleaning solutions and medicines pose an obvious risk to children, especially as they tend to be stored in brightly coloured containers. Placing a child lock on cupboards is one, not always foolproof, option, so moving dangerous items to a higher cupboard, out of reach, is a more reassuring measure.
Once your child begins to walk, it’s incredible how high they’ll be able to reach, especially with rapid growth. Knife blocks and utensil trays in kitchen drawers pose a significant risk as they can easily be grabbed. Remove all sharp knives to a high cupboard and relocate the knife block to the corner of the worktop where it cannot be reached.
Toddlers are unsteady on their feet and fall easily, so look for sharp corners on furniture, the fireplace and window sills in particular. Cover these with inexpensive cushioned corner covers to minimise impact.
A door that swings shut when your child has their fingers in the open hinge-side can cause painful crush injuries but the problem is easily rectified. Hinge guards, which are fitted to the length of the hinge side of the door, eliminate the possibility of your child inserting their fingers into the gap and prevent avoidable accidents.
Childproofing your home means anticipating the most common accidents and taking appropriate steps to remove the risk, making your home a safer place for your family.