Ensuring your child’s safety means taking steps to prevent accidents & illnesses from happening. We can do this more in the case of accidents and to a somewhat less extent in the case of illnesses e.g. prevent exposure to triggers of seizures or asthma attacks but less so for congenital illnesses.
“Accidents hurt – safety doesn’t” is an anonymous saying which helps us understand how important safety is. When you recognise that an accident is always someone’s fault, you will take steps to ensure the mistake is not yours or that of your child’s caregiver. Remember, your child’s safety is your responsibility. In keeping your child safe, keep the following in mind:
Remove the risk of an injury in the home either a potential hazard or dangerous item, or add a suitable safety product to protect your child:
- Ensure your baby sleeps in his/her crib on a flat mattress with a well tucked in bedsheet with no pillows or soft toys to avoid suffocation. If possible, your baby should not lie with you on the bed as you can suffocate him/her.
- Puree food properly as your baby transitions to solids and ensure bite size cuts as they grow. Food is a common cause of choking at this time.
- Bath water should be of an adequate temperature and make sure your hot drinks (coffee or cocoa) are kept away from reach to avoid scalding your child (steam attracts them). Beverages that are at an adequate temperature for you can burn a baby 15mins later because of their thin skin.
- No buckets or bowls of water should be left uncovered around the house; toilets should be closed because of the water in the water closet bowl. Children can drown in 5cm of water and they will do this silently.
- Ensure you keep small toys, beads or objects away from your toddler. If it can fit in a toilet-roll, it can choke your child. Some are so small that they can get stuck in small nostrils.
- Lock away dangerous chemicals like cleaning products which attract children with their bright colours. For instance, household bleach and kerosene look like water to a thirsty child.
- House design features like unnecessary steps or internal glass doors can be a risk to your active, playing child.
- Adequately illuminate everywhere for both your child and the caregiver who might be carrying your child. You want them to see where they are going and what may be in their way.
- Get rid of damaged furniture, floor, floor coverings, nails sticking out etc. This can cause nasty falls or bleeding with attendant consequences.
- Always know where your children are every second. Active adult supervision is essential; the kind that makes you get up to pick a child when he/she is climbing a table and not make you sit comfortably and say “Get down from there! Do you want to fall down? I have warned you o!” I have seen those ones in the hospital with a fracture.
- Revise safety checks as the child gets older. What worked for a baby won’t work for a toddler or an older child. Children are naturally curious and would always assess and test their surroundings and your boundaries.
- Seek help, and teach your child’s caregiver to also do so, the first time you notice something is not right with your child. Helping a child starts with recognising that something is wrong.
What other tips would you add for ensuring child safety?
Dr. Tosin Osikoya operates First Aid by Levande, offering First Aid Classes and selling First Aid Kits. She facilitates these classes to enable Parents, Carers of Children and Schools get the knowledge, skills and tools to handle any medical emergency.