Child safety is paramount so make a point of childproofing your home!
This article was a first for me and a long way off my normal man and van daily duties but as a Father of a 5 year old ‘active’ (for want of a better word) little boy I really wanted to research as much as I could to provide you with the ultimate guide as, I feel, child safety is such an important aspect of our daily lives which if you are anything like me took for granted, twice, in the past, fortunately without incident. In brief common sense prevails in most of the below.
One of the biggest fears for a parent is making sure their child is safe at all times. We of course worry about abduction foremost, but with our busy modern lifestyles it can be easy to ignore the perils within our own homes. Whether your child is crawling or running we have compiled a list of key pointers on how to childproof your property. When we move into a new house there’s so much going on that ‘small detail’ child safety can sometimes be pushed to the back of our minds. So before you move in draw up a plan and buy all the products you need so that you have everything ready to install as soon as you move in. At least then you can take your time unpacking in the knowledge that little one, or ones’, are safe.
In a single year in the UK half a million children, under the age of 5, are taken to hospital due to accidents at home, that’s a staggering figure when you think that this is the environment where you assume they are safest! Avoid going over the top, the general consensus from the professionals is that playing, investigating and exploring are a crucial part of learning so overprotecting them can affect this process. Although this may sound a strange thing to do get down to their level, yes on the floor, now look around – what can I reach? and what looks tempting? If your budget allows we would always recommend engaging a professional childproofing / child safety service!
Smoke alarms – Fit one at every level in the property, there is some great advice offered here on the different types and where to fit them by the Fire Service. DO NOT buy cheap imports from pound shops, but instead buy from a reputable outlet such as B & Q and always make sure it’s stamped with a British Standards or European (CE) safety mark. It doesn’t end there, always make sure you test them, replacing the batteries as directed. If you are hard of hearing then there is an option for strobe light smoke alarms, read more information here from the London Fire Brigade. They will also give you free advice on best practices if you are unsure.
Carbon-monoxide detection – If you have a gas boiler it is essential to have one of these fitted, use the guidance above when sourcing and fitting these units.
Fire prevention – At night make sure you switch off and unplug all electrical items including televisions, not leaving anything on standby. In the event of a fire be prepared, ensure you discuss emergency escape routes and meeting points with older children.
Fire guards – If you have an open fire make sure you have a fire-guard in front at all times.
Stair and door gates – Stairs gates and safety gates are 2 completely different units so careful on your choice here. As easy as ‘pressure’ gates are to install they must never be used at the top of stairs, instead opt for the type that need to be screwed into the wall. At around £20 each from reputable outlets such as Mothercare they are also great for bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms depending on your budget.
Large / tall furniture items – heavy bookcases and display cabinets are by their pure nature dangerous unless secured / bolted to the wall. Always put heavier items on lower shelves or in bottom drawers to make furniture less top heavy. Just at that ‘starting to walk’ age children use items like furniture to help them get off the floor, also chests’ of drawers make for the ideal ladder so bear that in mind. Keep televisions away from the edge of the stand they’re on.
Cushioned corner covers – for counter tops, tables and other sharp corner furniture items.
Window guards – these should be easy to detach so that they can be loosened by older children and adults in case of an emergency. With so many different window types you may need to research the lock required for the type you have. Remember that you should never have anything in front of a window that a child can climb onto.
Rugs and mats – Loose rugs should be removed or tapped down, you can buy rug tape which sits underneath the rug holding it to the material below, beit wooden floor or carpet they work the same.
Doors with glass panels – Not the cottage type with small panes but the elongated glass panels found in some interior doors, make sure that these are made of safety glass and have not been installed by a previous owner as a DIY project to bring more light into a passage way. If you are not sure get it checked out, or better, replace it. The panes can come down to almost 12″ off the ground and as children are top heavy can easily run into these whilst looking in another direction.
Electrical sockets – We have put a video at the footer of this article which we strongly suggest you watch before buying the typical plug socket protectors. Even the reputable outlets sell covers that are questionable so please take 5 minutes to watch it. It takes a few minutes to get into the subject matter so please be patient.
Extension leads – We all have them and normally we curl up the excess cable and push under, or behind, units. A simple cable tie that costs a fraction of a penny can prevent chocking.
Child Safety in the Bathroom
Scalding – When filling a bath always make sure you put the cold water in first and never leave them alone. If someone rings the doorbell then wrap little one in a towel and take them with you.
Slip proof bath mat – If they have suckers at the bottom make sure you have pressed down hard on the mat before putting your child in the bath. Also make sure that when you take your child out that the floor itself is dry, and dry little ones feet before putting them on the ground. For smaller children you can use the ‘bath seat’ which they slide into, beware though that some of these have been know to topple as the suckers underneath are sometimes not strong enough to cope with a moving baby. As soon as bath-time is over pull the plug and drain the water.
Toilet seat latches – Smaller children tend to be top heavy and could fall in.
Cushioned tap guards – this is to avoid head injuries.
Sharp instruments – Razors, tweezers, nail clippers and scissors safely out of reach.
Poisons – Keep all cosmetics and medications in a high cupboard out of reach. Bathroom cleaning chemicals must be kept in a cupboard with a childproof latch fitted. Also beware that some mouthwashes may contain alcohol. In brief, if you treat everything in the bathroom as a poison you can’t go wrong.
Child Safety in the Kitchen
Childproof latches – use these for drawers and cabinets containing fragile or dangerous items.
Breakables – Keep breakable items such as plates and glassware in lockable cabinets.
Sharp instruments – Knives and forks should be stored in latched drawers.
Spices – Keep these out of reach as most are toxic in large quantities.
Plastic bags – many of us have them spare but make sure you dispose of them.
Cutting edge dispensers – No not the latest in technological advances but simply the serrated edge that we use along the edge of foil and cling film dispensers can easily cut fingers.
Alcohol – Speaks for itself, we all enjoy a tipple now and again but keep it in a high cupboard preferably locked. If you do have a drink then make sure you empty the glass if you cant finish it and not leave it in harms way.
Appliances – Make sure these are in good working order and have gas ovens checked for leaks. You can buy hob and button covers to stop little one playing with them. Small fridge magnets should be removed completely. Dishwashers should be kept closed, if left ajar they can be pulled down giving children access to sharp objects.
Kitchen / dining room table – do not use a table cover that can be used by your child to pull themselves up thereby bringing down on them whatever was on top.
Child Proof the Bedroom
Radiators – These are normally very hot when the thermostat comes on, you can adjust the temperature by slowing the flow either using a thermostatic valve or by manually adjusting the valve with a spanner in little one’s room. It may take longer to heat up but wont get as hot. Best practise is to put a guard in front to keep them away.
Cuddly toys – Make sure that toys’ ribbons are short and cannot get tangled around baby and always remove at night once asleep.
Blinds and curtains – One of the biggest dangers to small children are corded curtains and blinds, cut or tie these up immediately and keep out of reach. You can also buy cord winders.
Child Proof the Garden
Water features – A child can drown in just a few inches of water. If you are lucky enough to have a pool make sure you have a perimeter fence around with a lockable gate, same goes for garden ponds and paddling pools. Consider draining the garden pond and filling with sand as a play area, if you do though never leave the sandpit uncovered overnight as local wildlife will see it as the ideal loo.
Perimeters – Regularly check fences and gates for loose nuts and protruding bolts. Avoid using, or remove, anything that can be used as a ladder.
Greenhouses – Make sure that these are fitted with safety glass, these large panels can cause serious injury.
Garden play equipment – Children love having a slide or swing in the garden, make sure that they meet British / European safety standards and are fitted correctly and secured to the ground in line with the manufacturers recommendations.
Pet poo – Any animal faeces and droppings must be cleaned up immediately to avoid parasitic transfer to your child.
Garden chemicals and fertilisers – You’ve all read it on the box, mix contents with 500 millilitres of water, so off we go and grab the nearest container, just happens to be an empty 1 ltr bottle of Cola and hey presto, job done. Little ones’ cant distinguish between fluid contents but they have seen Dad drinking from a 1 ltr Cola bottle and it’s only normal for them to try to replicate. Don’t store in anything that resembles a household drink, label it well and only use when children are not around.
General safety advice
Never buy a child safety product, or toy, that doesn’t comply with British Standards or European (CE) safety standards or displays it’s mark.
Always be on the lookout for small objects laying around that could cause a breathing issue.
When you have visitors make sure that there handbags are zipped shut, or clasped, and out of reach. Many handbags carry medication and cosmetics that can poison.
When cooking always use the rings at the rear of the hob. If you have a low-level oven then make sure little one is away from the kitchen whilst this is in use.
Hot beverages must be away from edges of table tops, coffee tables and kitchen work-surfaces preferably with the handles turned in.
Little emergencies can happen during your parental experience but there is no need for regrettable tragedies particularly those that can be avoided. If you are moving to a new home, ensure you have done everything you possibly can for the sake of your child’s safety. There are countless safety approaches you can deploy at home and the list we have compiled here at Book Your Man with a Van, although comprehensive, does not cover every part of your home. This article was difficult to write, as I investigated more it brought back memories of all the headline stories we have seen over the years, it is one of the most important blog articles I have written and although long I hope it helps to prevent at least 1 accident! Article written by Simon Gare. There are some more safety tips offered by the NHS for children under 5.
WATCH THIS VIDEO before buying electrical plug socket protectors
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