There have been a number of articles in the news lately about accidental child deaths. This is always so sad as potentially many could have been avoided. With this in mind, I am going to give my top five child safety tips for the home.
1. Button Batteries
Button batteries are the small round lithium ones. They are incredibly dangerous if swallowed. Their higher voltage means, in a very short space of time, the batteries can leak and cause serious injuries and even death. If a child were to insert them in their ear, or nose, you must also treat it very seriously. These button batteries are found in a number of items, from musical books, calculators, remote controls, cards, flashing badges to toys. Try to ensure the battery compartments on these devices are secure. Store the spare batteries out of sight and reach of a child.
If the child does swallow one, or you suspect they might have done, please take them straight to the nearest A & E department. Do not make them sick. Please keep monitoring them and keep a close eye on them whilst you get to hospital. Don’t wait to see if any further symptoms develop as a reaction can occur very quickly.
2. Tall Units
A number of accidents have been reported regarding tall units, such as a chest of drawers, wardrobes, or dressers, falling over and causing accidents and, in at least 3 cases, the death of a child. Please make sure you speak to your children and tell them not to climb these pieces of furniture! I know this is easier said than done, but trying to explain (even to a toddler) that they shouldn’t do it really is vital.
It is also recommended that any tall pieces of furniture are bolted to the wall to try and prevent them tipping. Certainly the vast majority of units I have purchased over the years have come with this facility but, if the unit you have doesn’t provide for this, then please speak to the place you bought it from, or the manufacturer, to get one.
3. Blind Cords/Nappy Sacks
Back in April of this year, very tragically, another toddler was killed by becoming entangled in her grandparents’ window blind cord. The Child Accident Prevention Trust state this is not an isolated incident, as this tragic story has been heard 30 times before in the last 15 years. They estimate it can take 20 seconds for a toddler to die from strangulation. Sadly, there have also been 16 fatal accidents recorded from suffocation by nappy sacks.
Our tips include, keeping cords out of reach, replacing older versions with the new designs, which come with cord-safe cleats and weak points in the chain that are designed to break when pressure is applied to them. Make sure babies’ and children’s cots, beds etc., are not near the blinds. Keep nappy sacks out of reach of babies and young children and do not give them the sacks to play with while you are changing them. If the worse was to happen, quickly untangle the child if possible. If not, then cut the blind cord to loosen the pressure around their neck, or, remove the nappy sack from their head. Call 999/112, then lay them on a hard surface and check for signs of breathing. If there are none, you will need to begin CPR.
4. Cleaning products such as dishwasher/washing tablets.
There have been a couple of cases lately of children biting or playing with the liquid gel tablets used in dishwashers. They feel interesting, are brightly coloured and, to some children even look like sweets, so no wonder children are gravitating towards them.
A number of changes have taken place within the industry to keep our children safe. TV adverts and packaging now remind you to keep these away from children. Manufacturers are now being told they must withstand a teenager’s grip without bursting and the capsules must take longer before beginning to dissolve. Our tips include, making sure you place them out of the child’s reach. If this can’t be done you could put a child safety catch or lock on your cupboard.
Should the worse happen then; if it’s on the skin, rinse with copious amounts of cool running water for at least 20 minutes. Do not pop blisters that form. Remove any loose clothing and all jewellery. Cover the burnt area with clingfilm, a sandwich bag, or even a carrier bag, and get the child to hospital. Always call an ambulance if you’re seriously concerned; the child is struggling to breathe or the burns are to the face/ neck.
If the child has swallowed it, do not make them sick. Get them to rinse out the mouth with water and spit it out to remove any excess. Give them as many sips of milk/water as they will tolerate without them feeling sick. Call an ambulance. Keep monitoring them and keep talking to them. If they fall unconscious, place them into the recovery position. If they stop breathing begin CPR, being sure to protect yourself from the chemicals around their mouth.
5. Water Safety
Many people think about water safety when on holidays, by the pool and in the sea, but it’s something that not everyone thinks about at home. Ponds, water features, hot tubs and paddling pools can pose a threat. Make sure hot tubs are covered when not in use, and empty paddling pools after play. Put protection around the ponds, such as fences or meshes across the water. Never leave a child in the bath unattended, not even to answer the door or phone. A baby or young child only needs a few inches of water to drown.
If, as a result of an accident, they are not breathing, lay them on a hard surface, You will need to give them CPR, so ensure an ambulance is called and they can talk you through how to administer it if you don’t know.