Safe as houses
Over one million children are injured in their homes every year in the UK alone, most of them in preventable incidents. Jo Caruana takes a look at the steps you can take to childproof your home.
Burns. Cuts. Falls. Knocks. These are just some of the ways that your little ones could hurt themselves in your own home.
As a parent, it’s your job to worry about your children’s well-being and to do your best to protect them. So what can you do about it? Well, start by following this helpful list of hints and tips, and you’ll be well on your way.
Keep hazards out of reach
Before you can even start to childproof your home, you’re going to need to take a look at it through your little one’s eyes. Imagine what things look like from their level as they crawl and toddle around, and try to remember just how exciting it was to explore when you were their age.
With this in mind you can get started on making things safe. Locking things away is absolutely vital. Chemicals like cleaning supplies, insect repellent and alcohol, as well as medicines, vitamins and other potentially-harmful substances, should be completely out of reach – high up and locked away. Special kiddie-proof latches can be helpful for this, and will be available from good baby shops. You may also choose to childproof your dustbin with a latch, as all sorts of dangers lurk within – including broken glass, rotten food and discardedcleaning supplies.
Electricals pose all sorts of dangers and electric shocks are potentially fatal. Little children seem drawn to putting their fingers, forks or pens into plug sockets, so avoid this at all costs by covering all outlets with plastic protectors (available fromironmongers). Keep plugs and chords out of reach too, and, ideally, secure electronics to the wall so they cannot be pulled off a counter or table. Meanwhile, try to block access to fridges, large TVs (that aren’t attached to the wall), and big exercise equipment, as these could topple over causing injury.
Secure the space
Falls are no fun for toddlers – and they won’t be very enjoyable for you either. Obviously you can’t wrap your child in bubble wrap, but you can avoid the trappings of some common injuries. Begin by blocking any stairs with a gate at the top and bottom, which means your child can have the run of the floor without you having to keep a constant check. Also move furniture away from the windows so that your little one can’t climb up, and add safety locks to windows too. Remember to close drawers when you’re not using them, as theycan easily transform into ladders for your children to climb!
Safety up high
Most homes in Malta will have a balcony of some description and, given the would-be dangers, you may choose to concentrate some of your safety efforts here. Measure the distance between the slats, checking whether your toddler’s head could squeeze through. If they are more than 10cm apart, consider reducing the distance with plastic fencing or sheeting, securing it very tightly so that little fingers can’t pry it off.
Keep the lid on liquids
Drowning and burns are two of the most devastating accidents that could happen in the home. When it comes to bath time, always keep the water shallow (filling it with no more than 10cm) and warm (not piping hot). Stay with your child at all times and use a suction mat to avoid any slipping. As for kitchen liquids, always keep the handles of pots and pans turned in while they are on the hob, as your toddler could easily reach up and pull them down. Finally, neverwalk with a hot drink in your hand as this could spill very easily.
With all of the above taken care of, chances are your home is now in good nick when it comes to child safety – but never get complacent. What keeps your baby out of harm’s way today may be useless when he grows into a toddler, and the same goes for when he starts walking, running and climbing. Remember to re-evaluate every few months or so, takingadditional steps as and when you need to.
Top safety tip:
Your eyes can’t be everywhere all the time, so take extra preventative action by covering the sharp edges on furniture with corner guards/bumpers. The space may not look as stylish as it once did, but it will avoid all kinds of accidents.
Top safety tip:
Beads, marbles, paper clips and small toys. Wondering whether something poses a choking risk? Keep an old toilet tube handy and see if the item fits into it. If it does, then it could be swallowed by your child and choked on, so keep it well away from curious hands.