Over 1 million children under the age of 15 are taken to Accident and Emergency Units in the UK each year after an accident in the home or garden. Many more are treated by General Practitioners and by parents and carers. Those most at risk from a home accident are the 0-4 years age group. Falls account for the majority of non-fatal accidents whilst the highest number of deaths are due to fire. Most of these accidents are preventable through increased awareness and vigilance, improvements in the home environment and the use of appropriate safety products.
So what can we do to keep our kids safe in their homes?
Some rough and tumble is an essential part of childhood play and of learning so don't get too protective or over-anxious. However, some basic safety precautions do need to be in place if children are to feel safe enough to explore, have fun and thrive in the home environment.
Firstly, get your home fitted with smoke alarms. This is absolutely vital for everyone and there is no excuse for not doing it. Local services may vary but in my area of Yorkshire the local fire service will come and fit as many fire alarms as needed in appropriate places in the homes of anyone who asks - all free of charge. There is no mess and batteries last for many years. Ring your local Fire Officer and find out what can be done in your area. Similarly, carbon monoxide alarms are an essential part of safety in the home - these are even easier as they don't need fixing to the wall at all - ours sits on top of our kitchen wall unit. These are available from Mothercare and from DIY shops.
You may also need:
* Stairgates - if you have stairs then you need a stairgate at the top and bottom plus safety gates in other key places depending on your floor layout, for example you may want to fix a gate across the kitchen doorway. Prices start at about £20 depending on fittings and some have extensions for wider gaps.
* A Fire Guard is a must if you have an open fire or one that is gas or electric. These are available in a variety of styles and sizes from about £20, some special offers on now, don't leave it until next winter to provide what is needed.
* A Baby Monitor provides parents with reassurance when the baby is asleep - these vary in price as some have sophisticated extras. Use will depend on where baby sleeps in relation to where his carers are during the evening.
* Bed Guards are to prevent children from falling out of bed - these are offered in attractive colours and will fold outwards or downwards when not in use. They can be purchased in pairs if there are two exposed sides to the bed or singly if the bed is against a wall.
* Electric Socket Guards to prevent tiny fingers from poking in sockets.
* A selection of gadgets to fasten bookcases and cupboards to the wall so they don't topple when little ones start pulling themselves upright.
* Window Fasteners to stop little ones opening the windows wide enough to climb out.
* Cooker Guards to prevent children from pulling hot pans down.
* Kitchen Cupboard and Fridge Locks to keep knives, bleach and other dangers from little fingers.
* Corner Cushions to cover those sharp corners on the edge of furniture.
* Door Slam Stoppers prevent accidents involving trapped fingers in slamming doors.
Lots more is available - check out Mothercare and Kiddies Kingdom for starters. And don't forget to childproof the homes of grandparents and other relatives where your child/ren spend time!
Margot Rowan is a teacher, writer and education adviser. Her website at http://www.joyndelight.com is full of essentials and treats for babies and toddlers, including safety gates, fireguards, bed rails, baby monitors, safety locks and gadgets and much more.
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Child Home Safety