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Child safety at home and away: Be in the know

Every year, the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) runs its annual campaign, Child Safety Week.  

CAPT is the UK’s leading charity working to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries to children. Through engagement with families and communities via educational campaigns and resources, they provide vital help and guidance on how accidents can be prevented, as well as what to do in the event of an accident.  Child Safety Week is their flagship awareness campaign supported by a wide range of businesses and industry bodies that are committed to championing child safety. 

For more information on CAPT and the great work they do to raise awareness and provide important guidance surrounding child safety, visit their website

In 2020, Child Safety week is being held from 1st to 7th June.  However, this year, because of COVID-19, they have had to make changes to the many events that this week normally holds. This includes adapting the Child Safety Week Action Pack as a year-round resource so that it meets the changing needs of families and the frontline staff supporting them. 

Main causes of accidents and injury 

According to Public Health England, every year 60 children under the age of five die from injuries sustained in and around the home – that’s 1 in 12 of all deaths of children in that age group.  Statistics also show that in England, accidents in the home to under-fives account for 450,000 visits to A&E each year with 40,000 emergency hospital admissions.  The CAPT website is full of helpful information regarding child safety and accident prevention, including the most common causes of accidents and injuries both inside the house and outside.   

Below we list just some of the causes, but it always helps to be aware of your surroundings at all times: 

  • Burns & scalds

    – Statistics show that 95% of all childhood burns and scalds happen in the home. Burns and scalds can happen in the most innocuous circumstances such as a toddler reaching out for your freshly made cup of tea or coffee, grabbing hair straighteners, or even contact with hot tap water. 

  • Button batteries

    – From toys to your car key fob, more and more household objects are powered by button batteries. Small in size, they can easily be swallowed by an inquisitive toddler and can be extremely dangerous. 

  • Choking

    – Each day, an average of 40 children under five are rushed to hospital after choking or swallowing something dangerous.  Anything from small sweets to toy parts can be accidentally swallowed and can choke a child. 

  • Cycle safety

    – We are always being encouraged to get outside and take some exercise for our health and wellbeing. Cycling is a great way for families to exercise together, however, cycling accidents are a risk not only for young children, but adults also. Ensure that all bikes are thoroughly maintained and safety helmets are always worn.  

  • Drowning & water safety

    – In the five-year period from 2012 to 2017, 56 deaths of children under five were reported in England due to accidental drowning or submersion.  Whether at home in the garden or at the duck pond at the park, water is a real risk to young children if not supervised. 

  • E-Cigarettes

    – There’s still not a great deal of data surrounding E-Cigarettes, but what we do know is that there is a high risk of poisoning from E-Cigarette liquid, and that this should be kept well out of the way of a child’s reach. 

  • Electric Shock

    – With robust regulations, electrical sockets are now designed to be safe. However, this is not an area to be complacent. In the period 2012 to 2017, 33 emergency hospital admissions of children under five were due to exposure to an electric current. 

  • Falls

    – This is the most common cause of injuries to children. Whether it’s falling down steps, slipping on garden decking or tripping over toys, most trips and falls cause nothing more than a few cuts, scrapes and bruises.  However, some falls can lead to long-term disabilities or even death. 

  • Fire safety

    – Unfortunately statistics show that families are almost three times more likely to die in fires that start in the night if they don’t have working fire alarms. Regularly check that your fire alarms are working, and don’t leave electrical items such as washing machines or tumble driers working while you sleep. It is recommended that families have an emergency fire plan so that everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm goes off. 

  • Garden safety

    – If you have a garden, you may find that you have some plants that can be poisonous both to humans and animals. Common plants such as Daffodils, Hydrangeas, Lily-of-the-Valley, Goxgloves, even Aloe can cause a range of symptoms – from mild (such as stomach aches or rashes) to life threatening (such as breathing difficulties and convulsions). It always pays to be aware of what you have growing in your garden, so for advice on poisonous plants, visit the Royal Horticultural Society Website (RHS). 

  • In-car safety

    – Ensure that all car seats are fitted correctly to the manufacturer’s instructions and they are age-appropriate. Badly fitting car seats or booster seats can put your child at risk. 

  • Poisoning

    – A report by Public Health England showed that 69% of emergency hospital admissions for accidental poisonings among under-fives in the five-year period from 2012 to 2017 were due to ingestion of medicines, 5% were due to organic solvents, other substances accounted for 26%. Ensure that harmful substances such as cleaning items or medicines are always put out of the way of a child’s reach. Visit the NHS website to see a list of household poisons.

  • Strangulation and suffocation

    – Between 2012 and 2016, 74 deaths of children under five were caused by accidental suffocation, strangulation or hanging, whilst 32 deaths were recorded due to inhalation or ingestion of food or other objects causing obstruction of the respiratory tract.  Inquisitive babies and toddlers can easily get tangled in strings, ribbons or cords, or can get caught up in sheets and blankets whilst they are moving around. 

  • Toy safety

    – Reputable toy retailers sell safe toys that are made to meet strict safety standards. However, novelty toys that can be bought from market stalls or discount retailers don’t always conform to safety standards and can be dangerous for young children. 

  • Pets

    – In a five-year period from 2012 to 2017, 2,697 emergency hospital admissions of children under five were due to being “bitten or struck by a dog”.  Introducing children to animals can be very beneficial and can improve their social skills as well as help them develop kindness and understanding for living things. However, any interaction with animals should be strictly supervised. Visit the RSPCA’s website for advice for children and animals. 

Keep one step ahead of your baby/toddler 

Parents can often be surprised about what their baby or toddler can achieve when they put their mind to it, so a few small preventative measures can ensure that your child can develop safely and happily without the risk of accident or injury. 

Studies show that under-fives are at greater risk in the home and the garden, whilst older children face greater risk outside the home environment.

Visit CAPT to find out more about keeping up with your little one

Making sense of accidents 

Unfortunately accidents are always going to happen, however careful you are. Children explore as they develop which means that scrapes, cuts and bruises are all part of growing up. However, most serious accidents and injuries are preventable.  CAPT encourages parents to think about “how a child is developing” to empower parents to “anticipate risk across a whole range of scenarios”. 

To find out more about how to make sense of accidents and the link between accidents and child development, visit the CAPT website.  

Preventing accidents 

There are many preventative measures that you can take to ensure your child is safe, including: 

  • Baby and toddler-proofing your home:
    • Ensure plastic bags are always kept well out of reach (even nappy bags whilst you are changing your baby). 
    • Keep cleaning fluids, washing powder/tabs, toiletries etc. out of reach – either on a high shelf or in a lockable cupboard. 
    • Ensure roller/roman blind cords are tied up and out of young children’s reach. 
    • Supervise any interaction with the family pet. 
    • Dig up and destroy plants that are poisonous to humans and animals. 
    • Keep medicines and any sharp objects like scissors in a high cupboard or drawer and out of the reach of prying hands. 
    • When cooking, put saucepans at the back of the hob so that handles can’t be grabbed. 
    • Make sure fires and radiators are covered with a guard. 
    • Keep hot drinks out of reach. 
    • Switch off hair straighteners after use and place them out of reach, ensuring that the cord isn’t hanging down. 
    • Cover garden ponds and empty paddling pools after use. 
    • Put padding on sharp furniture corners. 
    • Keep small objects out of reach. 
  • Safety equipment – There is a wide range of safety equipment available, including:
    • Child-proof door, drawer and oven locks, so fingers can’t be trapped. 
    • Safety locks for windows 
    • Stair gates 

CPR and First Aid 

It’s the last thing that you would ever want to happen to your child, but knowing how to give CPR to your baby or toddler could save their life.  

If your child is unresponsive and not breathing normally following an accident, call 999 and perform child CPR immediately.  The St John Ambulance has detailed guidance on performing child CPR on its website.  

You may also want to consider taking a course on how to perform CPR and other first aid measures. 

Emergency Numbers in the UK 

It’s always good to keep a list of emergency and helpful numbers on your notice board/fridge/pinned to your kitchen cupboard door, which should include: 

  • 111 – for urgent medical advice if you are unable to contact your GP. 
  • 101 – for all situations that do not require an immediate police response. 
  • 999 – for emergencies only 
  • The numbers for your:
    • Doctor 
    • Local Council 
    • Local Pharmacy 
    • Your health worker 

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