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Child Safety
July 5, 2012 by Dr. Mandar V. Bichu
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Child Safety

(Article reviewed and updated by Dr. Mandar V. Bichu on June 10, 2013).

Scenario 1:  The mother is busy arranging clothes. The child is playing with her toys. Suddenly the mother notices that the girl has put a marble in her mouth!

Scenario 2: A father is reading a newspaper with a hot tea-cup in hand. The child jumps on him- spilling the hot liquid!

Scenario 3:  A four year child is walking with parents on the footpath. Suddenly he decides to run head-on on to the busy road!

In day-to-day life, one comes across many such situations where such accidents happen to children. Their natural curiosity to explore the environment and do new things and a total ignorance/ disregard about the dangers of those actions, make children of all ages susceptible for accidents- whether at home or outside. Add to that, some neglect, carelessness and ignorance from the parents/ guardians and the risk of these childhood accidents multiplies exponentially.

The main thing to avoid such unfortunate mishaps is to be aware of such possibilities in otherwise perfectly normal-looking scene. Just bear in mind that if a thing can go wrong, then at least once it will go wrong! So be aware and remain alert to that possibility- particularly when you are handling children!

Let’s understand the possible problematic accidental areas for children, so as to avoid them.

Accidents At Home:

  1. Clothes, ornaments, lucky charms and toys:

Surprised? Yes, these things can often lead to accidents if you are not careful. Tight knots (around the neck or waist), pins, pointed/ sharp buttons and zips can make some clothes precarious in small babies/ toddlers. Ornaments and lucky charms (black threads, talismans etc.) can physically injure if they are tight or sharp. Similarly sharp edges of  a toy can cause injury. There is also a risk of the choking if the child accidentally puts a small button, a small ornamental bead or a small toy-part in the mouth or nose.

  1. Falls, bumps and jumps:

Rolling off the bed or tumbling off the cot on to the floor is a common accident in small babies. As they grow up then running, jumping and bumping into something becomes another common routine. Wet floor is another precarious area with a potential to slip and fall, so keep the floor dry. Falls from steep stairs or out of gallery or windows are often dangerous possibilities in children and care should be taken to restrict their access with protective doors and grills.

Walkers are a major source of accidents and should be avoided. Don’t be under the false impression that by using a walker, a baby will walk earlier. Walkers don’t make babies learn walking early!

Most of these falls and bumps are usually minor but occasionally they can be nasty!

  1. Heat and Fire:

Always be careful when you are handling hot things in presence of children. Hot irons, hot food-vessels and hot beverages are common causes of domestic accidents. Smoking a cigarette in a child’s presence not only gives him the disadvantages of passive smoking but it also is a likely source of scalding him. The kitchen burners and lighters should be kept away from kids.

The bathroom heater and hot water taps are particularly dangerous to children and that’s why, always supervise their bathroom visits in early years.

  1. Electrical appliances:

Wires, plugs, electrical points and buttons of electronic equipments always fascinate children and you have to be constantly on guard to make sure that they don’t end up doing something unpleasant in their exploration of those things. Washing machines- particularly front loading ones are liable for an accidental entry by an inquisitive child!

  1. Medicines:

The medicine capsules, tablets, syrups, sprays, drops and inhalers always seem to attract the young ones, who end up ingesting or inhaling them sometimes for their colour, sometimes for taste, sometimes for imitation and sometimes just for experimentation. These actions would then often necessitate emergency medical intervention.

Keeping medicines in a place away from children’s access, not taking medicines in front of young children (so as not to spark off imitation!) and keeping them in child-proof containers are the preferred preventive measures.

  1. Sharp things

Every normal house has sharp things like scissors, razor blades and kitchen knives. Cuts and scratches with them are common accidents. Holding the sharp end of the instrument up while carrying it from one room to another is a dangerous thing if a child accidentally runs into you! So always be careful while handling such things. Try to shave behind closed doors- imitation often acts as a strong stimulus and a small child impressed by the dad’s shaving act can just start ‘shaving’ with dad’s razor!

Bed/ furniture corners should be rounded. If they are sharp, then get the rounded edge-protectors to cover them.

  1. Water:

Bath-tub or swimming pool- any reservoir of water represents a potential drowning threat and parents have to be extremely careful to make sure that children- especially the infants and the toddlers don’t reach there unattended by any adult.

Water coming through taps and showers should be checked for suitability of temperature as extremes of temperatures can lead to burns or hypothermia.

Child-Proofing your house:

This modern and slightly misleading term means making the home environment safe for children. A simple plan to child-proof your home would be:

  1. Keep the floors dry.
  2. Keep away the sharp objects, small objects, breakable objects and medicines.
  3. Restrict access to dangerous areas like kitchen, bathroom, gallery, windows, staircases and swimming pool with appropriate partitions, doors and grills.
  4. Keep all electric points properly covered.
  5. Avoid using a walker in infants.

Accidents Outside Home:

Most of the domestic accidents can happen outside home, too but outside home the most important type of accidents will be traffic accidents.

Road Traffic Accidents are the most dreadful accidents and they are on continuous rise thanks to increase in number of vehicles and resultant increase in traffic congestion. But disregard for traffic rules is one important factor in these accidents. Start teaching traffic rules to children from a very young age.

I have seen drivers carrying their child on their lap. How could someone be that dumb and negligent to expose a child to the risk of accident is beyond me! Forget the driver’s lap- never let a child sit in any of the front seats of the car. Appropriate car seat in the back is the safe option in the early years. Back seat is always a safer option even for school-age kids.

Following traffic rules carefully, tightly holding the small child’s hand while crossing the road, keeping the small child away from the incoming traffic (that means if the traffic is going on from left to right then while crossing make sure that you walk on left and the child walks on right!), taking care that a child doesn’t cross in front of the school-bus after alighting from it and making sure that no child is playing behind your car before reversing it are some of the important tips to avoid some unwanted tragedies.

While walking on the road, always make sure that the children are explained the importance of staying away from the manholes, potholes, electric poles and electric wires on the road.

Drowning is another major cause of outdoor accidents. For kids, it should always be supervised swimming in a pool where life-guard is present. Swimming in unknown waters- like sea, river or lake is not a safe idea!

In summary:

  • Whenever you are handling children, be aware and remain alert to the possibility of mishaps in various day-to-day situations- whether you are at home or outside.
  • Falls, heat, fire, water, electricity, sharp objects and medicines are common dangers in vicinity.
  • Even seemingly harmless things like clothes, ornaments, lucky charms, talismans and toys also can sometimes cause serious accidents.
  • Follow traffic safety rules- while driving or walking with kids on road. 

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Right Parenting.Com is a site dedicated to offer compassionate scientific guidance on various parenting and child-health issues. It is managed by Dr. Mandar V. Bichu, a Sharjah-based paediatrician with the help of experts in various fields.
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