10 August 2011

Child safety not just good luck

Childhood injuries are preventable and keeping children safe is not just due to “good luck”. Here are a few important safety tips.


Childhood injuries are preventable and keeping children safe is not just due to “good luck”. Here are a few important safety tips.

Take heed of the following insights and safety advice:

Most children burn with hot fluids such as water, oil, food, coffee and tea. Children aged one to four are most vulnerable because they have especially sensitive skin and even a burn from a cup of coffee can prove fatal.

To prevent burns:

  • Never handle small children and hot substances at the same time.
  • Place paraffin appliances on a stable, safe, out of reach area.
  • Always guard open fires.
  • Always put the cold water in the bath first and then add the hot water.
  • Set your hot water cylinder to a safer temperature of 50 degrees Celsius.
  • Teach children not to experiment with fire, matches or lighters.
  • Keep pot handles pointing to the back of the stove.
  • Keep electrical cords out of reach of small children.
  • Teach children to "stop, drop and roll" if their clothing catches fire.

Pedestrian accidents
To prevent death from motor vehicle accidents:

  • Children under the age of nine are generally not physically or emotionally developed enough to cross roads on their own. They should always be accompanied by a parent or guardian and the children should be made as visible as possible.
  • When travelling by car, fasten children in car seats.

Children under four years of age are most at risk. The majority of children who have drowned were last seen in the home, were in the care of one or both parents at the time of drowning, and had been out of sight for less than five minutes.

Most infants (under one year) who drown, drown in the bath when the parent or caretaker leaves the child alone for a few minutes to answer the phone, or fetch something.

To prevent drowning:

  • Always supervise small children near water even if they can swim.
  • Swimming pools should be fenced or covered with a safety net.
  • Never leave small children alone in the bath and always empty nappy buckets or close them firmly with a lid.
  • Children should learn to swim from the age of four and should also be taught water survival skills.

Death and injury resulting from falls are particularly common amongst children under five.

To prevent injuries due to falls:

  • Babies should never be left alone on any high surface such as a changing table or bed.
  • Supervise children near playground equipment.
  • Use safety gates on stairs.

Most cases of poisoning happen in the home and are usually the result of accidental ingestion of medication, paraffin and cleaning agents. Children, particularly those under four years, are especially at risk of poisoning because they tend to put everything they are curious about into their mouths. Young children cannot distinguish between odours and would even swallow bad tasting substances.

To prevent poisoning:

  • Store dangerous substances out of reach in a locked cupboard or in child resistant containers if available.
  • Always read labels and dosage instructions on medication.
  • Always use a child resistant closure (safety cap) on your paraffin, petrol and turpentine containers.
  • Never store poisonous substances with food and always keep these substances in their original containers.
  • Know what to do in the event of an emergency and keep the number of the nearest poisons information centre next to the phone.



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