10 June 2010

Prevent childhood accidents at home

Most accidents suffered by children happen where children should feel safest – the home. We take a look at what could be done to create a safer environment for children.

Injuries are the leading cause of death among South Africa children from five to 14 years. The majority of under-fives die as a result of HIV/Aids. Injuries are the second leading cause of death among boys and the third leading cause of death among girls.

Not just good luck
Keeping children safe is not just due to “good luck”. Most accidents can be predicted and are therefore preventable.

  • Never handle small children and hot substances at the same time.
  • Never leave your child alone in the kitchen with pots on the stove. Keep kettles, toasters and similar appliances out of reach of children. Turn pot handles towards the wall.
  • All electrical appliances should be safely earthed and wall plugs secured with childproof covers.
  • Always use flame-proof materials for bedding and clothing.
  • Supervise children in a room with a fireplace or paraffin stove.
  • Set your geyser at 50 degrees Celsius or lower.
  • Always run the cold water in the bath first and then add the hot water.
  • Teach children to "stop, drop and roll" if their clothing catches fire.

  • 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 SABS-approved car seats, even if you travel to the corner cafe. Make sure that your child has not grown too tall or have reached the weight limit for the seat. Install it on the back seat, especially if your car has front seat air bags.

  • Always supervise small children near water even if they can swim.
  • Swimming pools should be fenced or covered with a safety net.
  • Children should learn to swim from the age of four and should also be taught water survival skills.
  • Never leave small children alone in the bath, even for a second.
  • Always empty buckets or close them firmly with a lid. A small child can drown in as little as five centimetres of water because of the disproportionate weight of their heads.

  • Never leave a baby alone on any high surface such as a changing table or bed. Preferably use a changing table with drawers so that you have everything you need close by.
  • Remove bulky toys or cushions from cots – a child could stand on and then topple out of the cot.
  • Don't allow small children to climb or sleep on bunk beds. The top bed should have railings right around.
  • Use safety gates on stairs and keep stairs well-lit.
  • Don’t allow your baby to use a walker – many babies have been seriously injured as a result of rolling over objects or down stairs.
  • Remove all loose rugs or fix anti-skid rubber underneath.
  • Supervise a child when in a high chair and fasten the restraining devices.
  • Install burglar bars and safety catches or locks on second-story and higher windows. Plant grass or shrubbery at the base of second storey houses to act as a cushion in case of a fall.
  • Always use safety harnesses on prams. Prams should be stable and not tip over easily. Do not overload a pram and avoid hanging shopping bags from handles.
  • Make sure your child wears a helmet, wrist, elbow and knee protectors when using roller blades, skates, skateboards or bicycles. Don’t buy a bicycle that is too big for your child.
  • Supervise children near playground equipment.

  • 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 and never take or give medication in the dark.
  • Always use safety caps on containers of poisonous substances. These can be purchased at baby shops or through CAPFSA.
  • 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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