Parents spend on average 37 hours per week worrying about their child and the possibility of injury. Is this just part and parcel of being a parent or are there ways to lessen the worry?

Child Safety

There are many things that a parent can do to attempt to keep their child safe in their own home or the home of a loved one.

  1. Keep all windows locked
  2. Use stair gates
  3. Use fencing around swimming pools/ponds
  4. Install smoke alarms
  5. Keep medication in child resistant packaging and out of reach
  6. Keep cleaning products and sharp objects out of reach

The risk however, is less in the hands of the parent when ‘out and about.’ As we continue to rise from the last 5 months of a lockdown/restricted period, what can be done to minimise injury to a child?

FALLS AND TRIPS

Consider the environment as steps, chairs and playgrounds can all become hazards depending on the age of the child.

Toddlers and young children, particularly, love to climb – they enjoy exploring and testing new platforms. If they are walking near uneven grass or a sloping lawn, this can be difficult for a young child and they could easily lose their balance. Consider holding their hand or using reigns or carrying them to guide their feet so as to avoid tumbles.

Children enjoy running and will usually choose to do so where possible, for speed and ease. However, it is always beneficial to ensure they are seated when eating and not running/walking with a dummy or lolly in their mouth. This ensures that any tumble is not also a choking hazard.

Avoid taking the child to a playground without safe matting. Most areas now use the matting due to the benefits of shock absorbency. However, some do not and even a small fall could cause a traumatic injury.

ROAD TRAFFIC INJURY

Ensure the correct child seat is being used during the use of transport. Please use an approved child seat.

Children present to Accident and Emergency every day with accidents sustained in a Road Traffic Accident. Every hour there are nearly 150 children being treated for injuries resulting from such accidents.

If children are cycling, ensure they are using the path before they have passed their cycling proficiency test (usually undertaken in Year 6) and always ensure they are wearing a correctly fitting and fastened helmet.

Children are most at risk when on foot, usually because they do not have the reflexes or speed to get out of the way of a motor vehicle.

It is beneficial to teach children of all ages basic lessons of how to cross a road. If the road is controlled by lights, use them. They have been installed for a reason and are a helpful aid to cross busy roads. If the road is a minor road and/or not controlled with any lights, look for pelican or zebra crossings as these are placed in safer sections of the road to cross. Never cross at a corner or between parked vehicles.

Always look both ways before stepping into the road – even if you are using lights/crossing. Just because the aid is there, does not necessarily mean the driver will listen to it correctly.

Do not run across roads as this can introduce another unnecessary hazard with tripping.

TRAPPED LIMBS/FINGERS

Children are very curious and inquisitive and will place their hands almost anywhere, without realising the consequence.

Not all establishments use safety door closers/trims and a child could easily place their hand in the door frame without understanding their hand/finger could become trapped.

Gates, fences and walls can often be hot spots for children and their heads – again try to ensure children are not placing their limbs in places they shouldn’t. It can often be easier to get a head through a railing than back out again.

BURNS AND SCALDS

Children are more likely to be burned with hot liquid than any other substance.

Do not leave children in a room with a hot drink. Children do not understand fear in the same way as an adult and their reflexes differ. Therefore, they could touch the side of a hot mug or pan and not understand how to pull their hand away to stop the burning. Similarly, they could pull a mug of hot liquid on to them and cause instant injury, which again they would not understand how to deal with.

Never leave a hot tap running and walk away. A child can easily run their hand under a hot tap and again, would not necessarily have the reflex complexity to pull their hand away.

If hot drinks are being served, ensure they are nowhere near the child – ask the waiter to come to you, even if the drink is for a child and try to place drinks in the middle of the table if at all possible, or as far from the child as you can.

If a burn does occur, do not remove the article of clothing as this could remove skin with it. Always, place the child into a cold bath and run cold water over the burn/scald.

So, remember:

  1. Communicate with the child and ensure they understand their boundaries
  2. Minimise the risk to the child by holding their hand when crossing the road
  3. Ensure the child wears a helmet when cycling
  4. Remember children are constantly seeking to learn and understand and will touch things they shouldn’t
  5. Risk assess areas/items in your head to ensure you have considered all options

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