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Staying accident free during the coronavirus outbreak

With everyone still spending a lot of time at home right now, it’s understandable that things can be more stressful than normal. Unfortunately, this also means that there can be an increased risk of accidents happening. One of the main reasons children can have accidents is because, as they grow and develop, parents can be caught unawares by their changing abilities.

We’ve been working with our partners at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Scotland and the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) to produce some advice to help you stay one step ahead and keep your children safe.

Burns and scalds

There are simple things you can do to keep your little one safe from burns and scalds.

  • Mobile phone or laptop chargers can cause nasty burns if your child puts the live end in their mouth, so remember to keep them switched off and out of the way when not in use.
  • Things like hair straighteners and irons can still leave a mark more than 40 minutes after they’ve been used. Store them in a safe place when you’re finished with them to prevent nasty burns.
  • The kitchen can be a very dangerous place for children. If you’re unable to keep children out of the kitchen, make sure that you supervise them – especially if food is cooking.
  • Hot drinks and small children just don’t mix, with many hot drinks still being able to cause a burn up to 15 minutes after they are made. Keep all hot drinks out of the reach of your little one to avoid potential burns.

Choking

With curious babies and small children, everything goes in the mouth, not just food. Here’s a few tips on how to lower the risk of choking.

  • Small children like to examine new things by putting them in their mouth, so keep smaller objects out of reach of your little one. If you have older children, get them to tidy up afterwards if they’re playing with smaller objects, like Lego bricks, to stop your little one grabbing one unexpectedly.
  • Get your little one into the habit of sitting down to eat or drink. And cut up their food so it can’t get stuck.

Trips and falls

Trips and falls will inevitably be a part of a child’s everyday life, whether they are learning to walk, or running around playing their favourite games. But while a plaster or a magic kiss can solve the problem of most bumps and scratches, here are some tips on how to avoid accidents that are more serious.

  • Try not to leave furniture close to windows – especially if they’re open to let in a little fresh air. Children are incredibly creative and you’d be surprised what they can use as a ladder.
  • If you have stairs in your home, keep them free of clutter to avoid any potential tripping hazards for both you and your family.
  • If you have smaller children, avoid changing nappies or leaving them unattended on raised surfaces like a sofa or bed. This will stop you having to worry about them moving or rolling over and falling off.
  • If you have more cables than normal lying around the house due to working from home, keep these tidied away wherever possible.

Threats to breathing

Unfortunately, strangulation and suffocation are common accidents. Babies and small children reach and grab for things that catch their eye, and this includes strings, ribbons and cords.

  • Blinds are very common in most homes; however, blind cords can be incredibly dangerous for children. Avoid accidents by keeping blind cords short by tying them up or using clips or ties.
  • Young babies naturally grasp things and pull them to their mouths but aren’t able to pull them away. This means they can suffocate on a nappy sack. Store yours well out of your baby’s reach and never under the cot mattress.
  • Your little one may delight in playing dress up with you, but keep an eye on items that could potentially cause problems like belts or items of clothing with drawstrings.

Poisoning

Medication in your home, cleaning products by the toilet and disinfectant under the sink. All these items and more can seriously harm small children if swallowed. Gather these items up and put them high up out of harm’s way and remember to put them away again after you’ve used them.

Button batteries

Button batteries, like the ones found in watches, are about the size of a 5p piece and can be deadly if your child swallows one. If you have any batteries in your home lying spare, or dead, make sure they’re out of reach of inquisitive little fingers. You’ll be surprised where young children can find them – in light-up toys, remotes, gaming headsets and key finders.

Drowning

Keep your baby or toddler within arm’s reach in the bath and around water to keep them safe from drowning.

Garden

If you have a garden, your children may well be spending more time here than normal to let off steam and play. If that’s the case, there are a few things you can do to lower the risk of an accident.

  • Try to ensure that garden equipment is stored safely and out of reach of children
  • Check garden equipment for loose or worn parts.
  • Keep all chemicals such as weed killer locked away.
  • Make sure that your child is always supervised around garden ponds.

Face coverings

Although adults and children aged 5 and over must wear face coverings on public transport and in shops, children under 5 should not wear face coverings. This is because they can be a suffocation risk for small children, and they may not be able to remove them if they’re having trouble breathing. Face coverings with ties could also potentially be a strangulation hazard. In addition, having their faces covered can actually encourage them to touch their faces more than they usually would.

Additional info

RoSPA has launched an Accident Free, Avoid A&E campaign with a key focus on preventing accidents and injury throughout the pandemic.

www.CAPT.org.uk also has information, advice and online tools for people working from home while caring for young children.

As in the case with any serious injury, parents should seek advice and assistance in the same way as they have always done. More advice is available from the NHS website.