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
As a car passenger
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 www.rta.nsw.gov.au.
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
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
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
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bike.
- Have some house rules about what you can or cannot
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
For loads more information on child safety, go to
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