People feel very secure in their own homes and are usually unaware of what a very dangerous place the home really is, especially for small children who are inexperienced, unsteady on their feet and insatiably curious. These are some of the dangers to plan against.
- Stairs should be well lit so that shadows do not confuse.
- Stair carpet should be well fitted and taut, with no loose stair rods or rucked-up areas which could cause a child to trip.
- If young children live in the house, there should be a child safety gate at the bottom and top of the stairs until they learn to negotiate them safely by themselves. This is particularly important in houses which have steep, narrow staircases and it is worth teaching an active toddler how to come downstairs backwards. Until you have achieved that, it is essential to have a gate.
- All floors should be non-slip.
- Carpets should be smooth and flat and not rucked up.
- Vinyl, cork and linoleum tiles should be undamaged and properly stuck down, particularly at the corners.
- Carpets on stairs and floors should be in good repair. Electricity
- Electric power points should be fitted flush to the wall and out of reach of young children.
- Electric leads should not trail over the floor.
- Lights in children’s rooms should be fixed to the wall or ceiling so that they cannot be knocked over.
- Electric sockets should be covered with socket guards.
- Buy electrical equipment with an official safety-approved label on it, which shows that it has been checked and has passed certain safety regulations. If using foreign equipment, check that it is suitable for use with the voltage of the country you are living in.
Doors and windows
-Doors leading outside, or to a hall or landing, should be protected with safety locks and handles which young children cannot operate on their own.
- Fix protective metal bars or a grid to the frames of upstairs windows, at least on the lower half of the window.
- Shower doors should be made of plastic or glass covered in safety film so that it will not splinter if it breaks.
- Make sure the flooring is non-slip, and use non-slip bathmats.
- Bathroom heaters should be wall-mounted and children should not be able to reach the switches from the bath.
- Use a rubber safety mat in the bath.
- Fit doors with two-way bolt indicators which can be opened from the outside.
- Install a high door handle to stop a child entering the bathroom alone.
- Fix the medicine cabinet out of child s reach and keep it locked. All medicines must be stored here. Eighteen month to two-and-a-half-year-olds are the main victims of home-poisoning accidents and aspirin is the main cause.
- Fit safety catches on cupboards and drawers to prevent children from getting into them.
- Keep high chairs away from worktops, doors and through areas so that children cannot reach anything dangerous, and also so that you will not trip over the legs. Children should always wear a safety harness in the kitchen.
- In a small kitchen it is particularly important to prevent children bumping into things, knocking over pans or playing with the cooker.
- Install cooker guards to keep prying fingers away.
- It is better to have rounded edges on tables than square ones as children are less likely to knock into them when they are running around.
- Make sure you have a non-slip floor and wipe up all grease spills immediately.
- Divide the kitchen, if it is big enough, with a waist-high storage unit and a gate so that children can play within sight but out of danger.
- The most convenient place for cleaning equipment is unfortunately under the sink, which is also the most dangerous. Keep chemical cleaners and all poisonous substances in a locked cupboard well out of reach of a two-year-old standing on a chair.
- The following are all poisonous: adhesives, air- freshener blocks, ammonia, bleach, upholstery and carpet cleaners, dyes, detergents, disinfectants, dry- cleaning fluids, paint solvents, fertilizer liquids, marking ink, insecticides, match heads, metal polish, moth treatments, oven cleaners, paint strippers, shoe polish, paraffin, scouring powders, silver polish, lavatory cleaners, turpentine, washing powders, washing up liquids and window-cleaning preparations.
- Never leave any fire unguarded. The best guards are made of metal mesh and are about 90cm (3ft) high and 1.2m (4ft) wide, with sides which prevent a child from getting anywhere near the fire.
- Place a piece of furniture in front of hot radiators or hot pipes to prevent young children bumping into them by accident.
- Do not use a portable paraffin heater in a room where a child may be left alone.