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Child Safety 101: Tips to Childproof Your Home & Yard

While parental supervision is always the best safety measure to have in place, introducing safety regimes and protection strategies like childproofing devices are vital and will help prevent accidents.

Child safety should be a priority for parents and carers, but it should not be a cause of stress or worry if you’re well prepared.

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Safety consultant, Gail Greatorex, warns in an interview with the Herald Sun, “Kids explore by climbing and often know that things they’re not supposed to have are kept up high. They find ways to climb, using open drawers as steps or clambering up a bookcase.”

Kids explore by climbing and often know that things they’re not supposed to have are kept up high. They find ways to climb, using open drawers as steps or clambering up a bookcase.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that accidents are higher among children compared to other age groups. The good news is most of these accidents are preventable.

Houses present all kinds of perils to child safety — from pools and window blinds to table edges and heavy bedding. The spaces we live in are created for adult use and as such, present a number of dangers to those precious little people in our lives.

Here is a list of preventive measures and helpful items to buy or install in your home for extra security and peace of mind.

kids safety concept- little girl climb on chair

Before you begin your childproofing crusade, remember that with any purchased device should be a commitment to read the instruction manual carefully. There is no point in going to the expense and effort if your device is implemented incorrectly or only partially working.

Also be cautious of children who are old enough (or clever enough) to disable devices you have put in place.

Safety Gates

Purchase a sturdy design that screws to the wall and is routinely locked by the parent. Safety barriers with gates are a good idea for keeping children safe from the plethora of kitchen hazards.

When kids start to toddle around, beware. Not only are they pulling themselves up on things, they are also prone to fall. Safety gates are the first port of call when it comes to stairs in the home.

Purchase a sturdy design that screws to the wall and is routinely locked by the parent. Safety barriers with gates are a good idea for keeping children safe from the plethora of kitchen hazards.

In both cases, be sure they meet with Australian Safety Standards and that the openings in the gates or fence are not big enough that a curious child could get his head stuck.

Child behind safety gate

Door Knobs, Latches & Locks

Latch any utensil drawers that might house sharp or dangerous objects.

There is no shortage of these available on the market. Choose a good quality, durable design that will last and is functional. While it is best practice to put anything toxic, all medicines and cleaning products well out of a small child’s reach, latches are a popular precautionary measure in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries.

Latch any utensil drawers that might house sharp or dangerous objects. Keep little ones out of child-free rooms with door knob fittings.

Sharp-Edge Bumpers

For sharp-edged furniture, like coffee tables for instance, there are a range of soft plastic bumpers to prevent injuries should a child collide with the edge. Take a crash course in first-aid and CPR. Beyond Bandaids, first aid knowledge means you’ll be prepared no matter the situation. And you never know when the skills could be useful.

Corner Bumper

Anchor the Furniture & Technological Devices

When kids are on the move you don’t want to have tables and televisions that are going to tip over or that they can pull onto themselves. Anti-tip brackets can be useful, but it is always best to securely attach these items to the wall or floor.

Smoke Alarms

Diarise a monthly check and if you can, opt for long-life batteries and change these once a year

While this safety measure applies to all homes, not just those with children, it is a safety precaution many people forget to check. Inspector Boyd Townsend, of the Rural Fire Service Northern Rivers spotlights their importance, “Smoke alarms need to be installed because it gives people that early warning that there is a problem when they are asleep and gives them a greater chance of survival.”

Smoke alarms should be fitted throughout the home, including your child’s room. Diarise a monthly check and if you can, opt for long-life batteries and change these once a year.

Smoke alarms don’t help against carbon monoxide gas, however, so you should also install carbon monoxide alarms (these days, you can buy special single alarms that perform both functions). Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that can kill and is especially dangerous in enclosed, poorly ventilated places. Many things can cause a build-up of carbon monoxide gas: car fumes in a garage, a blocked or soot-filled chimney, a faulty furnace or gas-powered fireplace, portable heaters and other fuel-dependent appliances. Be aware of the deadly danger of carbon monoxide poisoning – this silent killer must be taken seriously.

Cots & Bed Safety Rails

According to Australia’s SIDS and Kids organisation, the best and safest place for a child to sleep is in a cot that has been designed to comply with Australian Safety Standards.

Along with this, there are a number of other child’s safety measures that include putting the child on his back, keeping the bedroom well ventilated and removing any padded bumpers, pillows, heavy bedding, hanging mobiles and toys.

Safety

Around age 2, children may start climbing out of the cot, which puts them in danger of a fall. This probably means it’s time to move into a bed. Transition slowly to a bed using a bed rail (compliant with Australian Standards) until the child is used to bed sleeping.

Make sure the bed rail is properly fitted and that there are no gaps between the rail and mattress.

Make sure the bed rail is properly fitted and that there are no gaps between the rail and mattress.

Alternatives include going from cot to the cot mattress placed on the floor. Make sure it is positioned away from the wall so the child cannot become trapped. A low-to-the-ground toddler bed is also a great idea and practical in that it can utilise the child’s same cot mattress.

Window Blind Cords & Mobiles

As children become more mobile, so too does their ability to get caught up in regular bits and pieces around the home. Window blind cords are one of the most perilous culprits. If left hanging they can form a dangerous loop or noose around the child’s neck. Remove these altogether or tie them up high in a knot.

Safety Switch & Powerpoint Covers

Electrocution is another hazard among curious toddlers and makes outlet or powerpoint covers well worth considering. Opt for a system that cannot be removed by the child as they can then become a choking hazard. Consider having a safety switch installed on circuits.

Pools & Spas

For young families, the backyard pool can be a great source of fun and enjoyment. However, all pool owners beware, drownings in home pools are all too common. Take precautions to fence off the area. Legislation for fencing varies depending on state and territory within Australia. Check your local laws for exact specs, though you can use these specs (from Kid’s Safe Victoria and NSW Government) as a gauge.

The leading external cause of death for children under the age of 5 is drowning. In NSW alone in 2013, 9 children under the age of 5 drowned, and an additional 64 were admitted to hospital for near-drowning. Kids in this age group have the highest mortality rate of any age group, with roughly 60% of all drowning deaths happening in swimming pools2.

Pool Fence

Start with a gate. The gate latch must be more than 1.5m from the ground, self-closing, self-latching and opening outwards. It must also close on the first swing. The fence needs to be in good working order, no more than 100mm from the ground and at least 1.2m high. There should also be no vertical gaps more than 100mm apart.

Swimming lessons should be started for children as soon as is practical so they develop the skills and confidence they need to be safer around aquatic environments. And remember that it’s not just toddlers falling off a pool edge that are in danger – an unsupervised teenager can hit their head or suffer a blackout just as easily. Children can drown at any age, and deep water isn’t always necessary.

There should not be anything lying around that children can use to climb the fence or unlatch the gate.

Make sure all the chemicals, chairs, pool toys and cleaning equipment are stored securely away from the pool. There should not be anything lying around that children can use to climb the fence or unlatch the gate.

While adult supervision is imperative, it is also good practice to ensure the prominent placement of a resuscitation sign next to the pool.

In the car

For children under the age of 14, car accidents are the most common cause of death and injury in this country. 80 children die and around 3000 are seriously injured in car accidents each year – and most at risk are children in the 7-12 age bracket, who have outgrown boosters or child restraints while riding in the car4.

It’s important for parents to do the research and fully understand the type of restraint that’s best for their child’s age and size. Guidelines by Kidsafe and Neuroscience Research Australia recommend that infants be kept in rear-facing restraints as long as possible, and older children who are using adult seats or booster seats should use lap-sash seatbelts only (with a strap across the lap and another across the chest).

For children under the age of 14, car accidents are the most common cause of death and injury in this country. 80 children die and around 3000 are seriously injured in car accidents each year – and most at risk are children in the 7-12 age bracket, who have outgrown boosters or child restraints while riding in the car4

Child restraints need to be installed correctly and checked on a regular basis.

Older kids should stay in booster seats until they have outgrown them. Though laws are different from state to state, children are normally legally required to stay in a booster seat until the age of 7. However, a smaller-statured child may need to use a booster seat longer. If a child is too small for an adult car seat, the back of their knees don’t reach the seat edge and they tend to slump down too much. This means their back isn’t right up against the seat back and the lap belt (which should be positioned snugly across their hip area, touching their thighs) rides up and fits across their stomach, which is unsafe. Some children may need a booster seat all the way up to age 12, depending on their size.

Plan a day to childproof your home. If you’re proactive, you can prevent unnecessary accidents and visits to emergency. Help identify the hazards in your home by reading our article on the hidden dangers in the home.

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/1d72f5e5299decc5ca25703b0080ccbf!OpenDocument
http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/home/household_checklist.html
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/home-furniture-accidents-kill-one-australian-child-and-injure-hundreds-more-each-year/story-fnpp4dl6-1227464679616
http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/warning-for-those-warming-in-winter/2733784/
http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Consumers/Product_and_service_safety/Pool_safety/Pool_fencing_requirements.page#Pool_fencing_laws
http://www.kidsafevic.com.au/water-safety/pool-fence-safety/pool-fencing-laws
http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/07f7ccf154d9fc9dca25716800223d02/$FILE/Sub%2068.pdf
http://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/projects/drowning-prevention

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