Is your home safe for toddlers?

The average family home is full of hidden hazards for toddlers, with half a million children under the age of five having an accident at home every year. Find out where accidents happen and how to prevent them.

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family with toddler

Poisoning
Every year more than 26,000 young children poison themselves and prime sites are the garage, kitchen and bathroom.
*Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably locked up.
*Buy products in child-resistant containers where possible.
*Store chemicals in their original containers.
*Dispose of old medicines and chemicals safely.
*Avoid growing plants that can irritate the skin.
*Don’t leave cosmetics and drugs in the bedroom or in bags.

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Where accidents happen and how to reduce the risk

In the garage
*Make sure tools are kept out of reach.
*Don’t store cleaners or chemicals – including oil or petrol – in containers that look like drink bottles. Keep them up high, out of reach.
*Lock away any sharp implements in a toolbox – and always keep the garage door closed.
*Don’t allow a child unsupervised access to the driveway, as he could be run over. Know where he is when anyone is driving in or out.

In the garden
Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death at home in the under-5s, and 80% of pond drownings happen in the garden of a friend or relative.
*Near-drownings cause major injuries, so place a cover or netting over any kind of water more than 3cm deep.
*Ensure play equipment such as swings and trampolines are in very good order. Put heavy padding over trampoline springs.
*Don’t leave garden tools lying around.
*Remember, some plants are poisonous. Check out the Royal Horticultural Society list at www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profiles0606/TakeCareBeAware.pdf

In the kitchen
With potential hazards such as sharp knives, cleaning fluids and hot drinks, this is the scene of one in five accidents.
*On the cooker, place pans on the back burners and turn handles inwards.
*Put power leads, jugs and kettles (even if cordless) towards the back of the work surface where a child can’t reach.
*Store all cleaning products out of children’s reach.

In the bathroom
This is where most children’s burns or scalds happen.
*Once a child can sit up in the bath, he can play with taps, so put him at the opposite end and never leave him on his own.
*A child who can get out of the bath unaided can still slip. Make sure you help him in and out.
*Always check the temperature before placing a child in water. Never leave him alone in the bath – he can drown in 3cm of water.
*Remember that bath seats don’t prevent drowning, because they can come unstuck.

In the bedroom
A baby may never have rolled before, but there’s always a first time! Have all you need to change or dress them to hand.
*Make sure the drop from cot to floor isn’t too high.
*Never put a cot near windows.
*Don’t let young kids play on a top bunk – or let a child under 7 sleep there.
*Cut looped curtain or blind cords and put toggles on the ends so they’re not a choking or strangling hazard. Or fix a hook 1.5m off the floor to wrap cords around.

For more info

*In an emergency, call 999.
*NHS Direct, 0845 4647.
*Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT), www.capt.org.uk.
*Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), www.rospa.org.uk.

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For more vital information on baby, toddler and child safety, check out Practical Parenting each month.

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