Safety at home

An accident or injury can occur in any part of your home. Some safety hazards are obvious — such as a toy truck left lying at the top of the stairs. Others are not so easily identified — such as a stairway railing that has become loose.

Preventing falls at home

Falls are the most common cause of injuries and visits to hospital in every age group.

You can help to keep your child safe by watching the new skills she’s learning, and the new places she can reach – and then adjusting your home. For example:

  • Install safety guards across entries to stairs and balconies, and always supervise your child on stairs and balconies, even if you have guards.
  • Lock windows – particularly upper-storey windows – or shield them with firmly attached window guards so your child can’t fall out.
  • Use low-power night lights and an efficient torch to make looking after your baby at night safer.
  • Leave a hall light on at night, or use sensor lights to make it easier for older children to get to the toilet without tripping.

Burns and scalds

To prevent burns, keep your child away from fire and hot surfaces. Keep a close eye on your child whenever he’s anywhere near things that can burn – especially around stoves, ovens, microwaves, heaters and other appliances.

Hot drinks and too-hot baths are a major cause of scalds for babies and children. Here are some simple safety precautions to avoid these risks:

  • Keep hot drinks away from and out of reach of children.
  • Have the hot water delivered to your bathroom at maximum of 50°C. But remember that you still need to mix cold water with the hot water coming out of your taps to get the right bath temperature for babies and children.

House fires

House fires can be caused by cooking accidents, smouldering cigarettes, electrical faults, candles, incense and children playing with lighters and matches.

Working smoke alarms are an essential fire safety precaution.

By law your home must have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level. For overall fire safety at home, you should install a smoke alarm outside the sleeping areas of your home. It’s also a very good idea to install alarms in bedrooms where people sleep with their door closed.

Test your smoke alarms every month and replace batteries each year. Replace the smoke alarms themselves every 10 years.

Poisoning

Poisoning is one of the leading causes of injury to children under five, and children are often poisoned by common household chemicals and medicines.

You can make your child’s environment safer by:

  • removing potential poisons
  • storing chemicals and medicines up high in a locked cupboard or cabinet
  • putting a child-safety latch on the doors of cupboards where you keep household poisons.

Strangulation and suffocation

Many homes have everyday items that could strangle or suffocate a child. These items include soft toys and bedding, blinds, cords and ropes, and bags, boxes and packaging.

Here are some essential safety tips to keep your child safe from suffocation and strangulation:

  • Keep stuffed toys, cushions and piles of clothing out of cots and prams.
  • Wrap blinds cords in cleats attached to the wall at least 1.6 m above the floor.
  • Tie knots in plastic bags, and keep them away from children.

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