Children bring joy to our lives. We are responsible for their well being and safety. From the beginning of a child’s life, products intended for a child must be selected with safety in mind.
Many infants die or suffer serious injuries every year in accidents involving cribs. To avoid these accidents you should buy cribs that are approved by a recognized authority.
- Toys, which hang by a string over a crib playpen, should be suspended out of reach of the child.
- Toys that stretch across or are attached to the crib can be a hazard for active babies who are about five months old and can move on their own.
- Instal these toys securely so that young babies cannot pull them down into the crib.
- Do not use crib toys with protrusions that could catch on clothing.
- Select one that has a wide base for stability
- The straps and belts should be sturdy. Use these straps and belts every time because the feeding table is not an effective resistant.
- Be sure you can quickly remove the child from the chair in the event of choking or some other emergency.
- If you are using a folding high chair, make sure that the locking device is engaged all the time.
- Keep the high chair away from a table, counter, wall, or other surface so that a child cannot use them to push off.
- Keep an eye on your child while he is in the high chair, especially if he is active.
- Choose a gate with a straight top edge and rigid mesh screen or an accordian style gate with openings not larger than 38mm to prevent head entrapment.
- The vertical distance from the floor to the lowest point on the top of the gate must be at least 56cm.
- Exposed wooden, metal or plastic parts must be smoothly finished and free of splinters, burrs, cracks, and other defects.
- Make sure that the gate is securely anchored in the doorway or the stairway it is blocking.
Studies done in the United States have shown that more children are injured in baby walkers than any other nursery product. Almost all the victims are children under two years of age, with most of these injuries are caused by:
- Falling down stairs
Children in baby walkers can quickly move to the edge of the stairs and fall. This kind of accident frequently happens when parents leave children unattended even for a moment.
- Tipping over
Baby walkers may tip over when children attempt to move from a floor to a rug or a door threshold. Remove floor rugs when a walker is in use. Baby walkers can also tip over when children lean to one side or attempt to pick up a toy. Keep an eye on our children at all times.
In addition, some older models with X-frames have been known to cause entrapment and even amputation of children’s fingers. This happens because the frame acts like scissors when being closed. Check to see that your child’s walker is not a model which could entrap their fingers.
Protect your child from burns
Burns and scalds send many children to the hospital each year. Here are some tips to help prevent burns.
- Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children. Teach your children the importance of giving matches and lighters to an adult if they find them.
- Keep children out of the kitchen while you are cooking. Turn pot handles towards the centre of the stove where little hands cannot reach them. Avoid carrying hot liquids while children are around.
- Never leave children alone in the bathtub where they can turn on the hot water tap. Also, keep your water heater temperature below 120 Fahrenheit.
Protect your child from medicine
poisoning and choking
Choking, suffocating and poisoning injure or kill many children every year. These accidents often happen because little children explore the world by putting whatever they can reach into their mouths. Although most parents are aware of the need to keep household cleaning solutions and pesticides locked away from young children, they often do not realise the danger posed by common adult medication they have around the house.
- Keep items such as small toys, buttons, and coins, medicine out of young children’s reach.
- Do not give babies and young children food that can potentially block their airway, such as hard sweets or nuts; keep such food out of their reach.
- Store all medications in labelled, child resistant containers out of sight and reach of children and away from food products.
- Add guard latches to cabinets and drawers where you store medication.
- Perform an inventory of your medicine cabinet several times a year, and discard old and expired medications. Pour the drugs down the toilet and dispose of old pill bottles after washing them out. Never throw expired medication in the trash where children can find it.
- Be very careful about leaving handbags and suitcases open and accessible to children.
- Never keep medicines on a counter top or a bedside table.
- Never take medicines in front of your children. They may imitate you.
- Never refer to medicine as sweets when trying to get a child to swallow it.
When buying toys
Choose your children’s toys with care. First, look for good design and quality construction in the toy you buy. Then make sure that the toy you choose is appropriate for your child’s age.
Here are some other factors to consider:
- Pointy/sharp-edged toys should be avoided. Toys made of brittle plastic or glass can break easily, exposing sharp points and edges. Wooden, metal, and plastic toys sometimes have sharp edges due to poor construction. New toys intended for young children under eight years should be free of sharp edges. Avoid buying toys that have small parts that can be swallowed or become lodged in your child’s throat, nose, or ears.
- Loud noise- producing toys can damage your child’s hearing. Avoid buying noise making guns and look for a label that says: “Warning- Do not fire closer than 0.3m (1ft) to the ear. Do not use indoors”.
- Cords and strings attached to toys can be dangerous for infants and very young children. Cords can wrap around an infant’s neck and cause strangulation.
- Propelled objects from flying toys can become weapons, injuring your children, especially their eyes. Never allow your children to play with adult lawn darts or other hobby or sports equipment with sharp points. Arrows and darts used by children should have soft cork tips, rubber suction cups or other protective tips intended to prevent injury. Check to be sure that they are secure. Avoid dart guns or other toys that could fire articles not intended for use in the toy, such as pencils or nails.
- Electrical toys that are improperly constructed, wired, or misused can shock or burn your child. Look for the seal of a recognised testing agency. Electrical toys with heating elements are recommended only for children older than eight years. Teach your children to use electrical toys cautiously and with adult supervision.
- Not all toys are safe for children. Some toys may be safe for older children but extremely dangerous in the hands of little ones (for example, a chemistry lab set).
When maintaining toys
- Check your children’s toys periodically for cracks, splinters, broken parts, and other potential hazards. Immediately discard or repair a damaged or dangerous toy. Examine all outdoor toys for rust or weak parts that could become hazardous for your children.
- Sand smooth edges on wooden toys that might have become sharp or have a surface covered with splinters. Avoid using leftover paint or paint that has not been purchased recently when repairing toys and toy boxes. Older paint may contain lead, which is poisonous if swallowed.
When storing toys
- Teach your children to put their toys safely away in shelves or in toy chests after playing so that no one trips and falls over them. For safety, toy chests should have a lightweight lid that can be opened easily from within. For extra safety, be sure the chest has ventilation holes. Watch for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that could pinch.
- Attach rubber bumpers to front corners of the toy chest so a slammed lid will not catch little fingers. If you do not have a toy chest, make sure that the shelves are sturdy and will not tip over.
- Select safe toys suitable for your child’s age and maturity level, and regularly inspect them for wear and tear. Make sure that your children are supervised at all times.
(The writer is a professionally qualified fire crew chief, training instructor and