Looking after the safety of your child
Being completely responsible for a small person’s safety is a big deal. It’s all about understanding the dangers, minimising the risks – and constant supervision.
Remember: in an emergency dial 000
and ask for an ambulance.
Keeping your home environment safe
You can make your home safer for your child by assessing the risks, and then preventing or removing them. But even when you think you’ve removed all the safety hazards, children can still have tumbles and falls.
That’s why supervision is key to home safety
Also, as your child grows and learns to climb and open things, you need to be alert for new hazards. You’ll probably need to keep changing the environment to make sure your home is a safe and creative place for your child to play and explore.
Teach your child about what’s safe and what’s not when you think he’s old enough to understand – but don’t assume he’ll always remember. For example, you might tell your two-year old never to touch the electric heater, but it’s still far safer to put a guard around it.
Never shake a baby.
It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage. Even playfully throwing a young baby in the air can injure his fragile spinal column and brain.
Minimising home safety risks
Taking the right precautions is key to minimising risk. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Burns and scalds: turn down your hot water thermostat to a maximum 50°C. Keep hot drinks away from babies and children, and keep babies and children away from stovetops, fireplaces, heaters, barbecues and so on.
- Choking: children can choke on anything smaller than a D-size battery. Keep small objects out of reach, cut up food into small pieces, and supervise children while they’re eating.
- Drowning: 100% close adult supervision 100% of the time is the only way to prevent drowning in baths, pools, ponds, dams, rivers, the ocean and anywhere else with water.
- Falls: watch the new skills your child is learning, and the new places he can reach – and then adjust your home. Safety gates and window locks can be useful precautions, for example. But supervision is key to avoiding falls.
- Poisoning: store common household medicines, chemicals and cleaners up high in a locked cupboard, safely out of reach and out of sight of your child. The cupboard should be at least 1.5 m high and have child-resistant locks.
- Strangulation and suffocation: think about the cords and ropes, bags and boxes your child has access to. Wrap blinds cords in cleats attached to the wall. Tie knots in plastic bags, and keep them away from children. Put child-resistant locks on any airtight boxes your child could climb into, including freezers.
Safe baby equipment
Babies and toddlers seem to come with a lot of stuff: prams, cots, highchairs, car seats. Whether you’re buying new or second-hand or accepting hand-me-downs, here are some tips to help you make sure your furniture and equipment is safe:
- Buy, rent or accept equipment with Australian/New Zealand Standards (AS/NZS) labels.
- Check with the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Department of Fair Trading in your state or territory for the latest information about child and baby safety.
- Check out the advice on beds and cots on the Red Nose website.
- Carefully inspect second-hand equipment and furniture. Is it stable? Are brakes or locking devices in good working order? There should be no rough surfaces, sharp edges, paint chips or parts that stick out, like screws.
These 11 tips for safe sleeping can minimise the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents:
- Put babies to sleep on their backs.
- Make sure babies’ heads can’t get covered while they’re sleeping.
- Avoid smoking. Call Quitline on 137 848 if you need help to stop.
- Use a cot that meets current Australian safety standards.
- Share a room with your baby for the first six months.
- Breastfeed your baby if you can.
- Keep cot bumpers, soft toys, pillows and doonas out of your baby’s cot.
- Use a firm and well-fitting mattress in your baby’s cot.
- Avoid your baby sleeping on couches or makeshift bedding.
- Dress your baby in clothing that’s warm but not hot for bed.
- Make sure your baby’s carers know about these safe sleeping tips.
Safety out and about
Children need active adult supervision to help them navigate driveways, cars, roads and car parks safely. Always holding your child’s hand when he’s near cars is a great first step. You can also teach your child about road safety, including how to be safe around parked cars and on footpaths and driveways.
Before moving a vehicle in a driveway, always do a visual check for children, especially if you have a toddler.
In the car
Children under six months must use a rear-facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness. Children aged six months to under four years must use a rear-facing or forward-facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness.
Even on a cool day, the inside of a car can quickly heat up to deadly levels, so never leave your baby or child unattended in a car.
In the pram
Always use the safety harness. Put bags in the basket underneath the pram to avoid the pram tipping over, and carry as little as possible in the carriage. Double-check that any folding mechanisms are securely locked into place. Remember to put the wheel brakes on whenever you stop, even on a flat surface.
Preparing for an emergency
Here are some tips to help you stay calm and know what to do in an emergency:
- Consider doing some first aid and CPR training and update it each year.
- Pin up a basic resuscitation chart inside your home and also near your pool if you have one.
- Keep first aid kits in your home and car.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers in your mobile and displayed at home. Useful ones are: ambulance, fire and police (000), the Poisons Information Centre (131 126), and trusted neighbours and relatives.
This story was published courtesy of the Raising Children Network.