Safety tips for children aged three to five years old
Your preschooler is probably becoming more aware of hazards like cars and stoves, and they might be more likely to understand and follow safety rules.
But at this age, he or she are also curious and wants to explore. Playing with things and trying things out are how they learns. And if they're on a mission to find out how something works, he or she might not remember the safety rules.
This means it’s up to you to reduce the risks around your child, and to supervise him or her so you know he or she are safe.
Remember: in an emergency dial 000 and ask for an ambulance.
Keeping your home environment safe
You can keep your child safe at home by finding out what the risks are, and then preventing or removing them.
But you need to be alert for new safety risks. A gate that your child couldn’t climb over, or a cupboard that he or she couldn’t open, might become a new hazard as they grow and learn. You’ll probably need to change the environment often to make sure your home stays a safe and creative place for your child to play and explore.
Even when you think you’ve removed all the home safety hazards, the reality is that children can still have tumbles and falls. That’s why supervision is one of the keys to home safety for children.
Along with supervision and a safe environment, you can also improve home safety by teaching your child about what’s safe and what’s not.
Minimising home safety risks
Taking the right precautions is key to minimising risk. Here are some ways to help prevent accidents.
- Burns and scalds: turn down your hot water thermostat to a maximum 50°C. Keep hot drinks away from children, and keep 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 and the ocean. You can also teach your child about water safety and how to swim. Many children can learn to swim by the time they’re four or five.
- Falls: safety guards on stairs and window locks can help reduce the risks of falls around your home. But always supervise your child around high places like balconies, even if you have guards.
- 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 1.5m high and should have child-resistant locks.
There are many practical things you can do to help keep your preschooler safe while he or she are online.
- Use the internet with your child or make sure you’re close by while he or she are online. This way you can act quickly if your child is concerned or upset by something they've seen.
- Create a family media plan that covers things like screen-free areas in your house and what programs, games and apps are OK for your child to use.
- Use child-friendly search engines like Kiddle, or content providers like KIDO’Z or ABC Kids.
- Check that games, websites and TV programs are appropriate for your child. Common Sense Media has reliable reviews.
- Set up a folder with bookmarks for your child’s favourite apps or websites so that she can easily find them.
- Check privacy settings, use parental controls, block in-app purchases and disable one-click payment options on your devices.
It’s also important to talk with your child about being safe and responsible online and to be a role model for the online habits you want your child to develop.
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 or she is 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 that no child is behind or in front of the vehicle.
A top tip for helping children learn about pedestrian safety and road safety is to describe what you’re doing, so your child can understand why it’s important. For example, ‘We always look both ways before we cross the road’.
Riding a bike, scooter or skateboard
Your child should always wear a helmet when they are riding a bike, scooter or skateboard, plus protective gear like wrist guards and knee pads on a scooter or skateboard.
Teach your child to look carefully at the riding environment to decide whether it’s safe to ride. And give your child lots of practice in a safe area, like your backyard or a park, before heading onto the footpath or road. Always stay with your child when he or she is riding.
In the car
Children aged six months to under four years must use a rear-facing or forward-facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness. Children aged four years to under seven years must use a forward-facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness, or an approved booster seat with a fastened and adjusted seatbelt or child safety harness.
Even on a cool day, the inside of a car can quickly heat up to deadly levels, so never leave your child unattended in a car.
Preparing for an emergency
Here are some tips to help you stay calm and know what to do in an emergency:
This article was published with permission from the Raising Children Network
- 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.