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Child Safety

One of my main worries for my children is to keep them safe. Without keeping them indoors and in your sight all day every day, it is impossible to keep a child away from some hazards, but what we can do, is be aware of the potential dangers, and make sure we do everything to prevent injury or accident.

The ten most common injuries to Australian children are:

  1. As a car passenger
  2. As pedestrians
  3. Drowning
  4. House Fires
  5. Falls
  6. Nursery Furniture
  7. Scalds
  8. Poisoning
  9. Bicycles
  10. Skates or Skateboards

In each case, there are things we can do to prevent an accident, or reduce the likelihood of injury.

Car Safety for Children

We might not be able to prevent a car accident, but we can ensure our children are strapped in, in appropriate car seats for their age, that have been installed correctly. I've been surprised to see friends put a tiny baby in a car seat with the straps just loosely done up. They didn't want to squash the baby, but in reality a strap can be done up firmly without hurting a child.

The RTA has guidelines for buying and using child restraints which tell you what type of seat is appropriate for the age and weight of your child. They can also provide a list of RTA approved fitting stations where you can have the seats fitted professionally. I have done this each time we've upgraded seats or changed cars, and I'd highly recommend it. It's amazing how much more firmly the trained fitters can fit the seats!

The RTA's website is If you look under Centre for Road Safety, you will see an option called 'Children', under which is a section on Child Restraints.

Pedestrian Safety and Children

Children under the age of 10 do not have the judgment needed to handle a lot of pedestrian safety issues, and need to be supervised by an adult. They are still easily distracted, and may not be fully able to judge distance or speed of approaching vehicles. Accidents happen not just on the road, but on driveways or in carparks.

Some simple rules to follow are:

  • Always hold your child's hand when near a busy road.
  • Never allow a child to cross a road without an adult
  • Provide an alternative area for your children to play in, rather than the driveway.
  • Talk with your child about road safety. Simple things like, if the ball goes in the road, leave it and get adult help. We can always buy another ball.

Prevention of Drowning in Children

Drowning is the single biggest danger to children under the age of 5. Although many drownings or near drownings are in back yard pools, there are also less obvious risks around the house. Children can drown in a few centimetres of water. The toilet can be a lure for an inquisitive toddler, or a bucket of water you keep for those mucky flannels or nappies. Children love to play in water and they need to be supervised. You must never leave a child unattended in the bath, even for a few seconds. If the phone rings, ignore it, or take the child with you. Most of us have answer phones. Your instinct is to answer it, but resist!

If I'm expecting a call, I take the phone with me to the bathroom. My kids love the bath and I can sit and have a chat with my mum or sister on the phone while I watch them.

A swimming pool needs, by law, to have an approved pool fence, with a child safety lock on the gate. I've seen children as young as 5 reach up to open these, and it's scary how easily they can get in, and take the younger one with them. Someone told me recently, that if a child can reach the top of a fence with their hand, they can potentially get over it. Children need constant supervision while in or near a pool.

We have installed a Safety Net over our pool as an added insurance. I can highly recommend these. The net comes off before we swim and on again when we're finished. It adds 10 to 15 minutes to the day's activities, but it's worth it. With the pool net in place, the children are not tempted to go in and swim on their own, as they cannot get in the water. If they were to climb into the pool area and fall on to the net, they would get caught near the edge and would be able to call for help. The net is custom made to fit our pool and can be used over the top of a solar blanket. They can also be made to cover spas or garden ponds.

For more information, have a look at the Just Covers or Pool Safety Net websites.

House Fires and Child Safety

It is the law now that you must have at least one working smoke detector fitted in each level of your house. Smoke is the biggest risk for children during a house fire.

Remember to regularly check the batteries in your smoke detectors. We had a power cut recently and I realised that our smoke detectors are hooked up to the electricity and have no batteries. With candles around in a power cut, we had a higher fire risk, and lower protection.

The Fire Brigade web sites e.g. NSW Fire Brigades have details of fire safety at home, which will help you identify potential risks in your house.

Children need to be taught to 'stop, drop and roll' and 'get down low and go go go'. The Fire Brigade are very happy to arrange information sessions and if you're lucky, a look at a fire engine. Well worth doing for your pre-school or playgroup.

Preventing Falls in Children

Falls are the single largest cause of injury in children. They can be in the house - some hazards are stairs, open windows, balconies, and bunk beds; or in parks, off bikes, while climbing trees or just out and about.

Without curtailing their fun, it's possible to have some basic rules:

  • Use a stair gate until your children are able to go up and down stairs safely.
  • Ensure play equipment such as climbing frames and slides are on soft ground or install 'soft fall' material under them.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bike.
  • Have some house rules about what you can or cannot climb on.
  • Use a safety net around a trampoline.
  • Supervise your children while climbing at home or at the park.

Nursery Furniture and Child Safety

Falls from nursery furniture is a common cause of injury in children under 2.

  • Never leave a baby unattended on a change table.
  • Do not put your baby on the sofa and assume he or she won't fall off. They learn to roll at the most inappropriate time!
  • Do not put a child in a bouncer or rocking chair on top of a table or kitchen surface. They are designed to be on the floor and a baby's movement can cause the chair to move.
  • Always use the straps in a high chair or stroller. A baby will learn to climb out, and has no sense of danger.
  • Look for the Australian Safety Standards sticker when buying furniture or toys for your baby.
  • Be aware of when your child has started to climb and might need to move out of the cot.
  • Use a safety rail to prevent them falling out of bed.

Prevention of Scalds in Children

A scald is a burn from a liquid, usually hot water or a hot drink with children. Scalds are a major cause of long term injury in children.

Water that is over 50 degrees celsius can scald and burn a child within seconds. Check that the water from your hot tap is delivered at 50 degrees or less. If not, you can ask a registered plumber to install a devise to your hot water tank to reduce the temperature to a safe level.

Always put hot drinks away from children, in the middle of the table, not near an edge where they can be tipped.

Be careful when you heat food in the microwave. It can have hotspots in the middle. Always stir and test the temperature before feeding your baby.

Prevention of Poisoning in Children

Children are inquisitive. They like to try things, and we have numerous sources of poison in our houses. Some examples are; household cleaners, paints, cosmetics, medicines; even toothpaste and mouthwash can be dangerous.

The basic rule is to keep these things out of reach of children, preferably in a locked or child resistant cupboard and to dispose of old medicines and chemicals responsibly.

Child Safety and Bikes

Falling off a bike is the major cause of injury in this area. Young children's heads are soft and easily injured. If they wear a helmet from day one, they are more likely to continue to wear it.

Make some simple family rules that you and your children always follow; always wear a helmet when riding, and discuss with your child where they are allowed and not allowed to ride their bikes. Teach children to ride safely. If they ride on the road as they get older, they need to know the road rules.

Child Safety and Skates or Skateboards

As with bikes, most injuries from skateboards occur from falls. If your child wears the right protective gear - a helmet, elbow pads and knee pads, the risk of injury is reduced.

Find a safe place for your child to learn and set rules for where they skate. Ensure they wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Skateboarding in thongs is not a safe option.

For loads more information on child safety, go to the Kidsafe website

First Aid Kits at low prices shipped Australia wide. See a full list of the contents before you buy.  




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