EVERY DAY in New Zealand, an average of 22 children are admitted to hospital because of unintentional injuries or accidents. For young children (birth to 4 years old), most of these injuries happen at home.
Media stories have reported on recent home injuries with serious and fatal consequences: fires caused by kids playing with matches and lighters; poisoning due to ingestion of adult medication; children swallowing button batteries; and kids crushed by heavy appliances.
Does this make the home a dangerous place? And what can you do to prevent these injuries?
“Young children are injured more at home because they spend more time there. This is why keeping a safe home environment where children can grow and learn is important,” said Safekids New Zealand Director Ann Weaver.
One strategy Safekids suggests is to take a small child’s point of view. “Children see their home from a very different perspective, and what’s safe for adults may not be for small children,” Ann asks.
“Get down on your elbows and knees. What do you see? Can they see a toy on an unsecured bookcase? Are there lighters, matches or button batteries lying around? And are there medicines or household chemicals they can reach?” Ann added.
Below are some important tips to keep kids safe in and around the home this winter:
- Secure heavy furniture and appliances. If kids see colourful objects, food, drinks or toys on top of ovens, TVs, book shelves and dishwashers, they may try to climb them. Remove the object and secure furniture correctly using a safety device.
- Store matches and lighters in a safe place. Letting kids play with lighters and matches is like leaving them with a loaded gun. Keep lighters and matches out of sight and reach. Teach kids to bring you any matches and lighters they find. Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
- Button battery dangers. It takes as little as two hours to cause severe burns once a coin-sized lithium battery has been swallowed by a child. SEARCH your home for gadgets that may contain coin lithium batteries (e.g. TV remotes, singing cards, toys). SECURE coin lithium battery-controlled devices and keep them out of sight and reach of children. Keep loose batteries locked away.
- Warm up safely. It’s a good idea to have your heating devices (e.g. heaters, electric blankets) checked before using them again this winter season. Teach kids the "keep a metre from the heater" rule--if the child is very young, use a safety guard. And watch out for kids when consuming hot liquids (Hot water burns like fire!).
- Know the fire-risk labels for children’s nightwear. Red means the garment is a high fire risk and more suitable for summer wear; Orange is a warning to choose close-fitting options; White means the garment is a lower fire risk (It does NOT mean there is no fire risk!)
- Remember the S.A.F.E. rule against poisoning. STORE all medicines and chemicals out of children's sight and reach; ASK your pharmacist for safety caps on medicines; FOLLOW the dose instructions from your doctor or pharmacist; and ENSURE you follow safety instructions on medicines, chemicals and cleaners.
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