In the United Kingdom there are about 250,000 accidents to children per year in the home area (including outdoors) which require visits to the Hospital Accident & Emergency Department. Obviously in the United States these figures are considerably higher due to the larger population.
It goes without saying that some children are killed and many more seriously disabled by accidents in the home.
Each major area of Home Safety is covered on this website including :
- Fire Safety, Poisons Safety, Scalds and Burns, Kitchen Safety, Lounge/Living Area Safety, Baby Rooms, Stairs and Hall Safety, Bedroom Safety and Bathroom Safety
- Garden Safety
- Internet Safety (e-safety)
- Electrical Safety
- Water Safety including residential pools and ponds
- Dog Safety
In each of these sections there is background information for parents and loads of fun games and activities for kids too.
Home Safety Tips
Refer to each individual page of the website for detailed information but a 'potted' summary of ONLY SOME of the key information for parents is presented here.
- Have a Fire escape plan and practice it
- Don't use candles
- Ensure you have well maintained and regularly tested smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Children mustn't have access to matches and lighters
- Don't leave Portable Heaters unattended.
- Never overload an electrical socket or outlet
- Use devices to trip faulty electrical circuits i.e. RCDs/GFIs
- Don't smoke in the house
- Don't cook while under the influence of alcohol
- Avoid cooking with full pans of hot oil
- Never allow anything flammable (especially children's loose clothing) near open fireplaces and keep a secured fireguard on
- Close doors when you go to bed
- Keep poisonous substances in the house in locked cupboards at a high level e.g. weedkiller, antkiller, bleach/cleaning materials and medicines etc. Keep paints in the garage at high level.
- Buy child safe crayons
- Add child safety latches to cupboards
- Use child-resistant tops but never rely on them. Always keep out of reach. Children can open them!
- Store poisonous substances in original containers (never put in a drinks bottle)
- Check your garden for poisonous berries, mushrooms etc.
- Always discard poisons in a proper manner so they cannot be accessed by children
- Ensure children have no access to alcohol
Scalds and Burns
- Run cold water first in the bath, never other way round. Test before giving children access
- Children mustn't have access to matches and lighters
- Use rear cooking rings
- Avoid kitchen tablecloths
- Keep hot drinks and kettle leads well away from children
- Don't allow children near hot kitchen appliances
- Avoid hot drinks when children are nearby
- Ensure children cannot climb onto kitchen cooking surfaces
- Avoid using hot oil in pans
- Don't warm baby's milk up in the microwave
- Never leave an iron, hair straighteners or other hot items lying around at child level.
- Use proper sun care procedures with children
- Don't allow children to have or light fireworks and keep children at a safe distance during firework displays
- Follow the Fire, Burns and Scalds and Poisons advice above related to the kitchen
- Never allow children access to very sharp objects (for example scissors and knives)
- Ensure kitchen cupboards have child locks fitted for young children
- Clean up spills
- Don't let children run in socks on tiled floors
- Buy High Chairs with a 5 point harness and use it
- Follow food safety guidelines for younger children e.g. avoid choking foods such as nuts, grapes, popcorn and boiled sweets etc.
- Add electric socket safety covers
Lounge/Living Area Safety
- Follow the Fire, Burns and Scalds and Poisons advice above related to the Lounge
- Add electric socket safety covers to outlets
- Secure heavy furniture such as TVs so they can't be pulled over
- Keep babies at low level so they can't fall or roll off from a height
- Prevent child access to cables and sockets if feasible
- Avoid baby walkers
- Keep radiators form becoming too hot
- Ensure safety glass is used in windows
- Use corner protectors on sharp furniture / edges
- Be aware of the strangulation potential of blind cords to young children and either avoid or ensure they are fitted with a device to prevent this occurring
- Avoid child access to balconies
Stairs and Hall Safety
- Make sure you have a smoke detector at the top and bottom of the stairs to alert you to downstairs smoke and ensure it is frequently tested
- Add certified stair gates at the top and bottom of the stairs for young children.
- Ensure the top stair gate is specifically designed for the top and does not have a bottom bar which is a trip hazard.
- Ensure your stairs are not slippy e.g. polished wood
- Make sure the side safety rails on the landing are in good order, toddlers cannot fit between the slats and they cannot be climbed
- When carrying heavy furniture up or down the stairs, just in case it is dropped, ensure children are out of the way and have no access to the danger area
- Avoid having glass doors at the stair bottom
- Ensure there are no stair tripping hazards (stray toys, worn carpet etc.)
Baby Rooms and Bedroom Safety
- Don't fall asleep with your child - they could be suffocated
- Do not place soft pillows and certain soft toys in the crib since these are a suffocation hazard
- Ensure cribs are designed to recognised standards. Gaps between slats should be small to prevent a child's head being trapped
- When your child can pull themselves up , ensure you lower the mattress in the crib / cot
- Ensure there is no more than a 1 inch gap (2.5 cm) around the mattress
- Don't put hanging toys in the child's crib / cot - this is a strangulation risk
- Keep windows locked and make sure they have a safety feature to only allow them to open a small amount unless you press a latch
- Make sure children cannot climb up near to windows
- Avoid window blind cords in the children's room (strangulation risk)
- Keep nappy sacks out of reach of children and any other plastic bags (suffocation risk)
- Don't have hot objects in the child's room (hairdryers etc.)
- Ensure all electrical sockets / outlets have approved safety covers
- Don't have any poisons (medicines or cleaning materials) accessible to children
- Don't allow bathroom access to small children
- Don't leave a young child alone in the bath or bathroom, they can drown in the bath or toilet in seconds
- Add a toilet seat lock to prevent drowning of young children
- Always run cold water first then top up with hot to prevent scalds to children. Test with your elbow.
- Empty the bathwater as soon as you have finished, not later.
- Add slips mats to the bath and on tiled floors
- Keep windows locked and make sure they incorporate a restraining mechanism which allows a small opening unless you press a latch.
- Don't allow climbing access to windows.
- Avoid window blind cords in the bath room (strangulation risk) but if you must have them make sure the cords are fitted with the latest anti-strangulation devices
- Keep sharp objects (e.g. razors), poisons (e.g. bleach, medicines) well out of the reach of children
- Make sure electrical outlets / sockets are approved for bathroom use. Make sure a certified electrician adds RCDs/GFIs (Residual Current Devices / Ground Fault Interrupters) to the circuits.
- Don't allow children access to plastic bags or nappy sacks (suffocation risk)
- See Water Safety Section below for pool / pond or swimming pool safety
- Give children no access to sharp objects (e.g. saws) or poisons (e.g. weedkiller, wild berries or mushrooms) in the garden, shed or garage
- Checkout any climbable objects and either fence off or install soft flooring underneath.
- Don't give children access to any ropes (e.g. washing lines or rope swings) while unsupervised.
- Ensure the garden is fenced off and locked with no gaps.
Internet Safety (e-safety)
- Get clued up yourself on gadgets and social networking before handing to your children so you are aware of the hazards and can set up appropriate safeguards (proper security , parental controls and agreement on usage time). Check regularly these have not been changed!
- Your child should be taught the 3 simple internet rules 'Zip it, Block it, Flag it'.
- Zip it - never give out information of a personal nature
- Block it -block out mean people
- Flag it : tell a trusted adult if you find anything disturbing
- Work through the online Internet Safety Training in the kids section with your older children
- Ask your child to report ANYTHING they feel uncomfortable about that they see
- Consider monitoring your child's texts and emails but get their agreement first
- Learn about cyber bullying on this website and train your kids. This is a huge issue nowadays.
- Ensure your children are aware never to give out personal information (surname, age, movements, address, phone number, email address, school etc.) or to post pictures online
- Make sure your children understand the real dangers of meeting up with people they chat to online
- Children should only be allowed to play online games that are for their age
- Chat rooms often have sexual connotations : do not allow children to frequent them
- Train your older kids that they should never discuss sex online which attracts the wrong people to the conversations
- Only give children access to social networks when you understand the risks and how to correctly setup privacy settings
- Never use electrical items near water
- Use Residual Current Devices or Ground Fault Interrupters on electric circuits to save you getting an electric shock if you cut through a wire (especially on cutting equipment like lawnmowers) and test them before use and regularly thereafter
- Electrical sockets / outlets should have child protection covers
- Don't overload electric sockets or outlets (this is how electrical fires can start)
- Consider a regular electrical system check by a certified electrician
- Check equipment for damaged cables and train your children not to go near an appliance or its cable that has obvious damage.
- Always use the correct fuse rating for equipment
- Ensure children know to pull on plugs to remove, not the cables.
- Tell your children about the dangers of overhead power lines e.g. no climbing, no kites, no fishing rods nearby.
- Don't leave gardening electrical equipment plugged in and unattended
- Uncoil extension cables fully
- Go indoors if you hear thunder or lightening. Never shelter under trees.
Water Safety including residential pools and ponds
- Avoid ponds or swimming pools in your garden. They are a serious drowning hazard. If you do have them then you must have all necessary safeguards in place (such as fences, kept locked, alarms etc.) plus vigilant supervision by a specific adult. Ensure you/they have a phone at the ready for emergency. Keep a rope / ring nearby to throw in quickly to help them.
- If you have a paddling pool supervise children constantly and empty immediately afterwards
- Don't leave toys in swimming pools or anything else tempting to young children
- Monitor your garden for build ups of water (e.g. containers or buckets) and empty them. Children can drown in a few inches of water.
- Follow good bathroom safety procedures : see section above
- Ensure younger children can swim and make sure they are aware of dangers in water
- Discourage children playing on winter ice
- If you are canoeing or fishing, follow all safety rules and ensure you & any children all wear lifejackets. Stay in safe areas.
- Don't allow dogs in the baby room or near babies
- Ensure children never come into contact with dogs from known vicious breeds
- If you get a dog, get a family friendly one and integrate it completely into family life. Let the children feed it so it knows they come above it in the family pecking order. In addition, keep other people's children away from your dog.
- Don't let children be mean or tease or even play chasing games with dogs nor play in a way to get dogs over-excited
- Train children so that know about dog body language and to leave dogs alone while sleeping, are ill, have young puppies etc. and to keep their faces and neck away from dog's mouths
- When dogs are near make sure you closely supervise children and move away from unknown dogs
- Don't let children play chasing games or play in a way to get dogs over-excited
- Don't hit or be mean to your dog otherwise your child will copy you and may get bitten.