How Safe is Your Home?

The health and happiness of children in our care is of vital importance to us and we always do our best to keep them safe. However, every year around 2 million children attend A&E due to accidents and more children die each year due to accidents than from illnesses such as leukaemia or meningitis.

 

 

 

Five of the most common reasons for accidents are:

  • Burns
  • Choking
  • Poisoning
  • Falls
  • Suffocation/strangulation

 

There are simple safety precautions that all parents can easily take to minimise the risk of little ones having an accident.

 

 

 

Burns

Safety tips

  • Never position a cot by a radiator as babies can overheat or burn themselves.
  • Fit fireguards and radiator guards.

Treatment

Hold burns under cool running water for at least 10 minutes. Don’t touch the burn, pop blisters or put on any creams on it. Take burns very seriously and always seek medical advice. If a baby is burnt, phone for an ambulance and keep cooling their burn under cool running water until the paramedics arrive. Do not rush to dress the burn.

NB scalds are burns caused by hot liquids. The hot liquid can burn through clothes, so it is important to remove any loose clothing and thoroughly cool the burn as quickly as possible. Always check other parts of the body where the hot liquid may have splashed or spilt.

 

 

 

Choking

Safety tips

  • Always supervise children while they are eating.
  • Discourage older children from sharing their food with babies.
  • Cut food into small pieces.

Treatment

  1. Encourage them to cough to see if they can clear the blockage themselves.
  2. Perform 5 back blows, checking between each one if the blockage has cleared. Bend them forward and support their chest. With the other hand give afirm blow between the shoulder blades. For a baby, use chest thrusts instead.
  3. If the obstruction hasn’t cleared after 5 back blows, phone 999 and start abdominal thrusts.
  4. Keep alternating five black blows and five abdominal thrusts until emergency help arrives. If at any point the casualty becomes unconscious, begin CPR.

 

Abdominal thrusts: stand behind the casualty and place one hand in a fist under their rib cage. Use the other hand to pull up and under the ribs in a J-shaped motion to dislodge the obstruction. Perform abdominal thrusts up to 5 times, checking between each to see if the obstruction has cleared. Anyone who has received abdominal thrusts should be seen by a doctor.

 

Poisoning

Safety tips

  • Keep all potentially harmful substances out of reach of small children and ideally in a locked cupboard. This includes dishwasher tablets, medicines, alcohol, cosmetics, DIY supplies, cleaning and gardening products and potentially poisonous plants.
  • Never decant medication or any other products into different containers. Always use the original containers, clearly labelled, ideally with childproof lids.
  • Fit carbon monoxide alarms and have appliances and alarms regularly checked.
  • Choose cleaning products containing Bitrex which is bitter to discourage children from drinking the substances. Children can easily mistake a dishwasher or washing machine capsule/tablet for a sweet – keep them out of site and don’t be tempted to leave them in the door of the machine. Cleaning products are strong alkali and burn.

Treatment

If you suspect that a child has taken a harmful substance, establish what is missing and if any of it’s been swallowed. If the child seems perfectly well, call 111 or the emergency services and give as much information as you can, then follow their advice. Keep the child calm and still as running around will increase their metabolism. If the child shows any change in behaviour, starts to vomit or becomes drowsy, call an ambulance and explain what has happened. Do not take them to hospital in the car unless advised to do so by the emergency services.

If a berry has been eaten, take a photo and leaf from the plant to help identify it. If it was a packaged tablet or substance, bring that with you.

 

 

Falls – safety tips

  • Fit safety gates to your stairs before your baby starts crawling and ensure you keep stairs clear from clutter.
  • Never position a cot by a window
  • Bunk beds are not recommended for children under 6.
  • Children will climb on anything so be careful of pot plants, chairs and furniture by windows and on balconies.
  • Secure furniture – particularly bookcases, chest of drawers and TVs – to the wall. They can easily topple and crush a child if they’re climbing up them.
  • Be careful with changing tables, the safest place to change your baby is on the floor.
  • Fit safety locks to windows.

 

 

Suffocation/strangulation – safety tips

  • Never hang drawstring bags on cots, avoid cot bumpers which tie around the cot and use blind cord clips or alternatively choose a cordless blind.
  • Babies under 12 months should not have a pillow or duvet.
  • Keep plastic bags (particularly nappy sacks), packaging, small items, batteries and medication well out of children’s sight and reach.

 

If you enjoyed reading this, you may want to check out my other first aid blogs here.

Burns, Falls and Emergency Calls is Emma Hammett’s second book and heralded as the ultimate guide to the prevention and treatment of childhood accidents. Endorsed by Katrina Phillips of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, Dr Amanda Gummer for the Good Toy Guide, parenting and childcare experts – this is an absolute must for all parents and child carers. Available from Amazon now.

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