Safety first: How to child-proof your home

Every day children are injured at home. The good news is that the risk of injury can be reduced with a few simple house-proofing hacks.

Safety first: How to child-proof your home
 Be aware of dangling cords and open plug sockets, which can electrocute your child.

They say prevention is better than cure and this rings especially true when it comes to keeping your children safe in and around the house.

Accidents are the leading cause of death for young children. Childproofing your home can help you prevent many accidents and tragedies.

We chat with Hayley Rosenthal, a life support medic, on how to keep your home and garden safe.

Safety in the kitchen

  • Keep kitchen knives and other sharp utensils out of reach, preferably behind a childproof locking device.
  • Ensure that all your appliances – like washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers – have their safety locks on.
  • Be aware of dangling cords and open plug sockets, which can electrocute your child.
  • If you collect plastic shopping bags, put them in the same cupboard to avoid games that could end in suffocation for your child.
  • Never leave your child alone when the oven or stove is on. Curious children will pull on a pan to see what’s cooking and suffer the consequences.
  • Cook on the backplates and create a safe area of up to a metre in front of the oven.

Safety in the bathroom

Toilets, sinks, buckets, and baths can be overlooked as drowning hazards in the home yet they are particularly dangerous, especially for younger children. Children can drown in less than 6-cms of water. That means drowning can happen in even a small amount of liquid.

  • Teach your little ones that bathrooms aren’t for playing in.
  • Buy toilet seat locks or get into the habit of locking your bathroom doors from the outside until your children are old enough to use the toilet themselves.
  • Never leave a young child alone in a bathtub for even a second.
  • Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. When finished using a bucket, always empty it immediately.
  • Remember to move all bathroom cleaners and other harmful objects to a high cupboard. This is especially true of razors, which need to be disposed of carefully.

Top tip: Never store dangerous liquids such as shower or bath cleaning agents in empty drinking bottles.

Stair safety

Did you know that every six minutes, a child younger than five is rushed to an ER for a stair-related injury?

  • Stairs should be clutter-free, in good condition, and have a banister or handrails on each side.
  • Parents are encouraged to use gates at the top and bottom of any internal staircases and teach toddlers how to descend stairs backwards, as this can help reduce the risk of a child falling down headfirst.

Fire safety

Many homes have fireplaces, and although it is nice to have a fire going on a cold night, it is important to keep your kids safe from the fire.

  • Test smoke alarms every month and replace them when the battery is low.
  • Protect fireplaces with a guard and lock up firelighters and matches.
  • Teach your little one not to touch fireplaces or braais.

Safety in the garden

Lock up all toxic garden substances and fertilisers. It’s also important to keep all garden tools out of reach. Consult with a nursery or expert to find out about poisonous plants, as you don’t want to keep these in your garden.

Pool safety

Young children are irresistibly drawn to water, and tragically, about 350 children under age five drown in swimming pools and spas each year. Your pool is unsafe if your child is able to access the water on his own (which includes climbing over the gate or under a cover/net).

  • All open water, including ponds and water features, should be netted or gated.
  • Never leave your child in the care of someone who can’t swim.

Good to know: While childproofing reduces the risk in your house, it is not a guarantee of safety. You should still teach your children about potential dangers in the home.