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Home safety

safety; home; kitchen; laundry; bedroom; garden; swimming; pool; kitchen; power; point; saucepan; stove; guard; play; trampoline; pram; bouncinet; bouncinette; stroller; stair; balcony; balconies; balustrade; fall; handrail; steps; fire; smoking; tobacco; cigarettes; walkers; injury; injuries; television; sets; treadmills; blinds; curtain; cords; strangle;

Young children often are injured at home. Houses are designed for adults and when young children start to explore their homes they will find many places and things that could lead to harm. They need to explore their world, but they are far too young to understand what might be dangerous and they are too young to learn how to keep themselves safe.

Even if you tell them not to do something they are too young to remember or to be able to stop themself from exploring and trying things. Their world needs to be designed to keep them safe. There are lots of things you can do to make homes safer for children. (And don't forget other homes that they visit - such as their grandparent's home.)

Contents

The Child Accident Prevention Foundation (Kidsafe SA) has a checklist to help you look at your home and make it safer for children. Their checklist is a general guide for you to walk from room to room and the outside areas and ask yourself questions about how you might make your home safer. They ask you to look at your home from the eye level of your child - 'You will amazed at how different it looks from their level and their perspective.

Home safety checklist for parents of children 0 - 4 years of age

We also have a topic  'Child safety' which looks at this from a different angle.

General safety

As well as walking room by room through your house and then your garden there are some more general things you can do to keep your house and family safer.

Emergency

  • Have emergency numbers for police, doctor and ambulance, fire brigade and poison information near the phone at all times.
  • Do a first aid course so you will know what to do in an emergency.
  • If you use baby sitters, have your own home phone number and address by the phone so that they can tell emergency services if they need to call for help.
  • Have a first aid kit in the house and car.

Fire

  • Install smoke alarms at strategic places, eg outside the kitchen, inside the children’s bedrooms.
  • Keep all matches, lighters and candles out of reach of children. Many fires are started when children experiment with matches, candles and lighters.
  • Develop a plan for what to do if there is a fire and teach your children what they should do. The topic 'Safety from fire' on our Kid's site can help you with this.
  • Keep keys in the lock of deadlocked doors when you are in the house, so you can get out quickly if there is a fire.

Poisons

  • Keep all poisons out of reach, preferably in a 'child proof' cupboard. Labels with words or even pictures will not keep young children safe.
  • Do not leave pills/medicines on your bedside table or in a handbag that children can get to.
  • Check visitors do not leave handbags with medicines in them where a child can get to them.
  • Have a look at our topic Poisoning for more ideas about how to protect children from poisons.

Electricity

  • Install an Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker in your fuse box which will cut off the electricity supply if there is a fault.
  • Old houses may have faulty electrical wiring that needs to be checked and replaced.
  • Cover all unused power points with a child safety cover.
  • Unplug electrical appliances when they are not being used.

Doors and floors and glass

  •  Ensure that all glass doors, shower screens and low windows are fitted with safety glass. A sticker or decal fixed onto the glass door at your child's eye level will help him or her to see it and avoid banging into it.
  • Ensure that floors which get wet have non-slip surfaces.
  • Doors that are likely to slam and jam fingers should be fitted with door-closers. Place finger jam protectors in doors.
  • Make sure that cupboard edges in children's areas are rounded.

Multi-story house

  • Make sure that windows are fixed so that children cannot get out of them, and that all balconies have adequate barriers (vertical bars for example, not horizontal which are easily climbed).

Home alone

It's not easy to decide the right time or age to leave children at home on their own. There is no actual law stating the age children can be left at home alone. However the law is clear that parents are responsible for their children's safety and they should not be left in dangerous situations. 

Children under about 12 should probably not be left alone at home, and they certainly cannot be expected to keep younger children safe.

This is explored more in our topic Home alone.

Making each part of your home safe

When you have young children it is important to do a safety check on every room of your house and the yard and sheds. The Kidsafe Home safety checklist is very good for this.

There is another list for Grandparents, which you could also use at the homes of friends and other relatives.

Places and things to check

  • Kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Bathroom (check out our topics on Water safety - baths and on Scalds)
  • Nursery - baby's room and equipment - our topic 'Safe sleep for babies and toddlers') has more about this.
  • Windows
  • Cords of curtains or blinds - so that a child cannot get caught in the cord and choke. 'Safety - blinds and curtain cords'.
  • High chairs
  • Change tables
  • Prams, strollers and bouncinettes (have a look at the topic 'Prams and strollers'.
  • Toys and boxes Toy safety
  • Playpens and barriers
  • Ceiling fans
  • Bedrooms - the topic Cots can help with this. Bunk beds are not safe for children under about 9 years. Have a look at the information from Product Safety Australia 'Bunk bed safety
  • Stairs balconies and verandahs
  • Baby walkers It is strongly advised that you do not use baby walkers. For more information see the topic 'Baby walkers'
  • Treadmills - can cause severe friction burns Treadmills

There is more information about furniture, homewares and window furnishings on the Product Safety Australia website 
https://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/971372 

Backyard, garage and garden

The Kidsafe Home safety checklist also walks you through your garden.

Make sure you check fences and gates, locks on your tool shed, gardening shed or garage, ladders, fish ponds and other pools.

Also check

 

Driveway safety

Each year many children are killed or injured when run over by a slow moving car.

  • Young children are naturally curious. They can move quickly and can run behind or in front of a car without warning.
  • Small children can be impossible to see from inside a car, especially if they are directly behind it.
  • When planning play spaces in your yard, keep children's areas well away from the driveway, fenced off if possible.
  • Kidsafe Driveway safety

Resources

Australia

South Australia

  • South Australian Kidsafe Centre
    C/- Women's & Children's Hospital
    72 King William Road
    North Adelaide SA 5006
    Tel: (08) 8161 6318
    Fax: (08) 8161 6162
    Email: sa@kidsafe.org.au   

References and further reading

Product Safety Australia 
https://www.productsafety.gov.au/     

Kidsafe
http://www.kidsafe.com.au/ 

Monash Injury Research Institute 
http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/index.html

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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