Our Accidents at Home section covers advice on making your home a safer place, for you and your family.
Most common accidents and injuries occur somewhere other than your own home. But it may surprise you to learn that 45 percent of unintentional injuries happen at home.
This is a very sobering and frightening thought. Here are some safety tips on providing a safer home for you and your children.
Choking – Children frequently put objects in their mouths and swallow them. Sometimes, these can result in the child choking. If you are unable to remove the object on your own, dial 999.
Items such as button batteries should be placed in far out of reach places. The Toy Safety Regulations require toys that use button batteries to have lockable battery compartments, make sure that these compartments are all functioning as they should, i.e. not broken – and have the security screw intact. For items such as remote controls, electronic devices, musical cards, etc that do not require the lockable battery compartment – that they are again, kept out of reach of inquisitive hands.
Burns & Scalds – Hot drinks and foods are the most common cause of burns and scalds in children under the age of five. Children should be kept away from the oven, open flames, and irons (anything hot). Hot water can also cause painful scalds. Make sure you do not set the temperature of your hot water heater too high, which can cause scalding burns to your skin. The temperature should not be set higher than 120 degrees. If running a bath, make sure you test the temperature first to make sure scalding does not occur. A simple way to test the temperature, is to place your elbow into the water – if it’s too hot, you will know straight away!
Among the most common ways that adults are burned is through cooking and hair straighteners. It is recommended to hold all burn wounds under cold running water for a few minutes. For the purpose of preventing infection, a burn should be covered with plastic and taped down.
Trips and Falls – Obviously anyone can fall, but falls usually occur in young children and the elderly, especially when they are on the stairs. It is important to ensure that objects are picked up off the floor, cords are not left running across the floor, and carpets are tacked down in order to prevent trips and falls. Look to fit a child safety gate to the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent inquisitive children exploring on their own.
Be on the lookout for any trip hazards and address them immediately. In many cases, if a young child falls, you can comfort them with kind words and hugs and kisses. Please seek medical attention immediately if you notice that a person has become drowsy, vomits, or loses consciousness after falling. A doctor should be consulted in the event that there is something seriously wrong.
Sharp Objects – Sharp objects are always a danger, not just for children. To prevent accidental cuts when working with knives, make sure to store them properly after washing.
Glass Injuries – Injuries caused by broken glass are dangerous. Broken glass can cause deep lacerations and cuts. Ensure that doors, tables, windows, and shelving are made of tempered glass, and that cups and glasses are kept out of reach of young children.
Dangerous Furniture – Furniture that has sharp corners, such as a coffee table, may be dangerous. It is possible to purchase covers for the corners in order to reduce their sharpness. Furthermore, you should be careful when using glass top tables, especially if you have small children. You should inspect the furniture in your home to ensure it is secure. Anchoring large, heavy furniture to the wall will prevent you from being pinned under these objects, especially if they are small children. If you are hanging a television on the wall, be sure the cables are well hidden and the TV is well secured.
Bruises – Minor injuries, such as a fall or a collision with furniture, can cause bruises. The application of a cold compress, such as a bag of frozen peas, can reduce swelling. There are times when severe bruising can indicate a more serious issue such as a fractured bone. If the pain is continuous or the movement is restricted, professional medical advice should be sought immediately.
Falling Objects – As a parent, you know that as soon as your child starts moving around on their own, they start touching everything around them. Potentially, they can knock things over, resulting in broken objects or head injuries. Ensure that electrical cords, tablecloths, and dishes are out of reach to prevent this from occurring.
Accidental Poisoning – The most common cause of poisoning is medications and household products. It is crucial that these things not be accessible to children or anyone who might wish to use them to intentionally harm themselves. Think about fitting a safety lock that is hard for a child to open.
Consider placing any harmful products like bleach to the back of the cupboard – so it isn’t the first thing a child explores! Make sure all medications are stored in a child proof container – not the box that a pharmacy has provided – and maybe store them in a high up medicine cabinet.
Drowning – Children should be closely supervised at all times when they are in shallow water, such as a bath or a paddling pool. In or near water, a child should never be left unattended.
Ensure that any flammable products are stored well away from ignition sources. Always check on the conditions of the container for leaks, and clean up any spillages as soon as they happen.
Make sure that fire alarms, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly – batteries should be tested on a regular basis.