Once your baby becomes mobile, your home suddenly becomes filled with potential hazards. While some safety measures are common sense, others aren’t so obvious, so almost every parent has a near-miss story. But rest assured, accidents can be avoided if you know the danger areas to look for.
Falls down the stairs are one of the most common accidents toddlers have, as Carla, 32, mum to Scarlett, 3, discovered. “I hadn’t fitted stair gates because Scarlett had only just started bum-shuffling,” she explains. “But one day, as I was cleaning up after a messy nappy change, she shuffled along to the top of the stairs and fell down them! Fortunately she was okay, but it was a terrible shock. I learned the hard way that, when it comes to safety, you must always be one step ahead of your child’s development.”
Keeping cleaning products and medicines securely out of your toddler’s reach or under lock and key is a must. Mum Sheila had a near miss when she returned from answering the doorbell one day to find her son, Luke, 18 months, sitting with a bottle of drain unblocker. “Like most people, I kept cleaning products under the sink, not even thinking how easy it is for a toddler to get to. Thank goodness he hadn’t managed to open the top, but it was definitely a reality check. Now all nasty stuff is kept higher up.”
Everyday items can also be hazards, as Emma, 36, mum to Millie, 4, and Josh, 16 months, recently found out. “Josh got hold of a bottle of vitamin pills from my bedside table and managed to unscrew them. Thinking they were sweets, he started to eat a few. Luckily, they didn’t contain iron, which could have been serious, and I caught him before he had too many. Now I lock such things away – you just can’t be too careful.”
Matches and lighters are a real danger for pre-school children, as they have the dexterity to work them but are often unaware of the dangers. Steve, 44, dad to Molly, 5, was fortunate with his daughter. “We had a barbecue, and the next day Molly brought me a box of matches she’d found. She told me they were dangerous and children shouldn’t play with them. I found out later she’d learned about it when the local fire brigade visited her nursery -thank goodness they did!”
One ever-present hazard is water. Scalds from bath water, kettles, irons or hot drinks are common, especially when you consider a drink made with boiling water can burn a child’s skin up to 15 minutes after it’s made.
Every year children die in garden ponds and pools. Sarah’s daughter, Jessica, 3, nearly drowned in her pool, after Sarah went to answer the phone. “I was gone around 20 seconds but in that time, Jessica had slipped under the water. I can’t describe the panic – I grabbed her. Thankfully she was okay – I don’t like to think about what could have happened.”
When it comes to child safety, you can’t be too careful and it’s vital to stay vigilant. Katharine, 37, mum to Flora, 3, and Holly, 6, agrees that prevention is always better than cure. “You just can’t be too vigilant – I once found a Stanley knife with its blade fully extended lying on a bookshelf in the children’s bedroom after my husband had been doing some DIY. When I told him, he was absolutely horrified that he could have been so careless, but anybody can make a mistake. Now I find that whenever I walk into a room, I automatically look around to check for anything that might be dangerous.”
Playing with doors may seem like fun but it can lead to tiny fingers getting trapped. Kylie, mum to Connor, 2, and, Sara, 3, has taken precautions to prevent accidents. “My mum always used to say rough games end in tears, and it’s true. Connor and Sara love to chase each other around the house, slamming doors to slow the other down. I can’t always get there in time to stop them, so I’ve fitted doorstops – at least I know no one can get their fingers or toes trapped.”
“He said he hadn’t eaten any…”
“When Ossie was 2, we had two visits to A&E. Both times we were at my parents’ house. On the first occasion, I found him with tiny, highly poisonous, hearing-aid batteries. The second, he was holding my dad’s heart pills. Each time he said he hadn’t eaten any, but we couldn’t be sure so he was X-rayed. Now I’m extra careful in other people’s homes.”
Josey, 40, mum to Ossie, 5