Parents worry endlessly about how to protect their children from stranger abduction and violence, but many overlook one of the biggest threats to their children’s safety and well-being: their own home.
Once they start crawling, babies will always want to reach out to stuff around the house that they seem to find attractive. They, therefore, need constant supervision to prevent them from getting injured in the home. However, even the most watchful parents can’t keep kids completely out of harm’s way every second of the day.
Childproofing or baby proofing involves the removal or alteration of potential hazards that can expose a child to injuries. It may seem like a formidable task, but when you consider some of the statistics regarding child injuries in the home, you begin to realise that even the smallest prevention measures go a long way.
Here are some of the common causes of injuries and how you can prevent them.
Open bodies of water
Many of us like to store water in buckets and other water storage containers in the home. It is, however, important to note that buckets, bathtubs and toilets could be potential dangers.
Infants and toddlers can drown in as little as a few inches of water because they are top-heavy. If they lose their balance while peering into a toilet or bucket, they can fall in headfirst and get stuck.
All stored water should be covered with well-fitting lids. Toilet lids should always be placed down and bathrooms locked. In case you want to give your baby a bath, ensure that you first put cold water in the basin then hot water. Test the temperature with your elbow to ensure that it does not burn the baby and always stay with your baby or child when they are in the bath.
There have been many cases of babies who have chocked on food, and this is a very distressing episode for any parent. Toys are some of the items baby could swallow, leading to fatality.
Experts advise parents to buy toys that are bigger than the child’s mouth, depending on their age. Younger children should not receive toys with parts that break away since they can easily put them in their mouth. During meal times, the child should be allowed to eat at their own pace because they have smaller windpipes compared to adults. There should be no talking or walking around. Concentrate while feeding the child.Let them sit upright in a comfortable position so that they are able to feed properly.
It is advised that one should not cook or even drink hot beverages while holding the baby as you can accidentally burn them.
If it happens that the weather is hot and sunny and you place the child on the slide or swing which would probably be heated up because of the sun, they could easily burn.
In case you are using gas to cook, it is advisable that you get a cabinet for placing the gas cylinder.
Safety of buildings
Tall residential buildings like flats or apartments could also pose a danger to young children. There is the risk of falling which could be fatal.
To ensure the safety of children in such buildings, the balcony has to have narrowly-spaced balustrades so that the child cannot go through them. It is advisable that the height of the balustrades should be about 1 metre from the ground to prevent the children from climbing over and falling.
Childproofing your home also means installing grills on the windows to keep the kids from falling through them. In the bedroom, windows should be designed in such a way that it is on its own and no furniture is placed close to it.
In a home with a staircase, its important to put a lockable grill at the bottom to prevent the child from going up the stairs since they could easily fall. At the top of the staircase, there should be a that open towards the inside of the room and not outside so that if a child leans on it and it opens, they cannot fall. It should also have good lighting.
Electronics, sockets and electrical plugs
Children like sticking objects in those tiny holes in sockets. Many of them in the home is within easy reach.
Loose or broken sockets can indicate that the wiring and inner contacts can be exposed within the junction box, which can easily cause a short circuit. That not only poses a threat to the child but also to the entire family because it can cause a fire.
When baby-proofing, ensure to check all your electric sockets and replace any that are old, damaged or loose. On the other hand, electricity sockets if unused should be fitted with plugs not connected to any wires to prevent kids from inserting objects. They should be fixed at a height where a child will not be able to reach.
Cables such as T.V cables should be fixed on the wall completely or ducts provided where they will run through.
These could result into falls and cuts. Babies start pulling up on furniture shortly after they start crawling. And when they learn how to climb, one needs to be extremely careful.
It is important to cover all sharp corners with bumpers to soften the impact if your child falls. You can also attach corner and edge guards.
Whenever possible, bolt whatever you can to the wall. Keep dresser drawers closed when you are not using them – they make perfect ladders.
Many people do not dispose of medicines that are no longer in use yet they pose a serious health hazard to babies or children.
It is important to lock away all medicines and cleaning products and ensure they are out of reach of children. In case they are no longer in use, they should be disposed of appropriately.
Paraffin should not be stored in soda bottles as kids could easily drink the contents thinking it was soda.
Fluffy beddings, cushions, carpets
These can mold around the baby’s face and suffocate them. They are also not ideal for an asthmatic child due to the fluffy particles. It is therefore important to place the baby on their back on a firm mattress covered with a tight-fitting mattress pad and sheet. Keep them warm with a lightweight blanket tucked tightly around the mattress.
When it comes to carpets, which we all love to have in our homes, it is important to clean them whenever they are dirty and dusty, especially if there are children in the house. When they reach the crawling stage, babies would easily move all over around the house and if the carpet is not clean they could easily catch infections.
Always keep the children’s safety first.