How to protect your children from accidents?

A mother first-aids her child after a bicycle accident.

Daily, thousands of children worldwide meet with accidents that make a call to a doctor or a hospital necessary.

Each year, 1 out of every 8 children receives medical treatment after an accident.

Hence, if you are a parent, there is a substantial chance that something similar could happen to your child.

It is not strange that children are often injured in a familiar environment, such as the home and its surroundings.

The type of injuries they incur change as they get older.

An infant can easily fall off its nursing table or choke on a piece of food or a small object that gets stuck in its throat.

Young children often fall when they climb about or get burned or poisoned when they touch or taste things within reach.

Children of school age often get injured in traffic accidents or when playing outdoors.

Many of these accidents are preventable.

With a little foresight and a knowledge of your child’s level of development, you can help prevent injuries or even fatal accidents.

Indoors

Children opening windows.

You cannot teach the one-year, two-year, or three-year-old to avoid dangers and then count on them remembering.

Hence, the responsibility for helping your child to avoid accidents rests on you as the parent—or on other adults with whom the child stays now and then.

To begin with, take a look around your home.

Use the checklist in the adjoining box.

Perhaps some safety devices are not available in all countries or are not available at a reasonable price.

Yet with a little ingenuity and imagination, you can probably think of solutions that will work in your particular circumstances.

For example, if you have loop-type handles on your kitchen drawers, you can lock them by slipping a stick through the handles.

A similar arrangement could also serve as a lock for the oven door.

Plastic bags are much less dangerous if you tie them in a knot when storing them.

Perhaps you can think of other simple ways to prevent accidents in and around the home and can share these with friends and acquaintances who have small children.

Outdoors

Mother with her child with safety gear on.

Check the areas where your child plays.

Most injuries to children over four years of age happen when they play outdoors.

They fall down and hurt themselves or perhaps fall off their bicycle.

The most common fatal outdoor accidents for children between the ages of three and seven are traffic accidents and drowning.

When you inspect playgrounds, check to see if the equipment is in good working condition so that the child will not be hurt when using it.

Are surfaces under swings, climbing frames, and similar equipment composed of soft material, like loose sand, so that the child will not hurt himself if he falls?

Are there pools of water or streams near your home?

Only a few inches of water is enough for a one- or two-year-old child to drown.

When a little child falls face down in a pool of water, it loses its sense of what is up and what is down.

The child simply cannot get back up again.

The most fundamental rule, therefore, is this: Never let a child between one and three years of age play alone outdoors without adult supervision.

If there is a quantity of water in the neighborhood, wait until the child is considerably older before allowing him to play outdoors without supervision.

In traffic

Children's crossing traffic sign.

The same is true if there is traffic around your home.

A preschooler can only take in tangible messages and concentrate on one thing at a time.

But traffic is full of abstract conceptions and double messages.

Do not let your child cross a street on his own before he is of school age.

Children are not considered mature enough to cycle alone in busy traffic until they are at least 12 years of age, according to experts.

Teach your child to use a safety helmet when cycling, riding, roller-skating, or tobogganing.

Head injuries are difficult to treat and can cause permanent damage—or even be fatal!

At one children’s clinic, 60 percent of those treated after bicycle accidents suffered injuries to the head and the face, but those using helmets suffered no severe head injuries.

Also, make sure your child is safe when traveling by car.

Many countries have laws that require small children to be buckled up in specially designed safety seats.

This has drastically reduced the rate of injuries and deaths among children involved in traffic accidents.

If safety seats are available where you live, using one could be good life insurance.

But make sure it is an approved model.

Note that seats for infants are different from those for children from about three years of age.

Safety in your home

Child safety at home.

• Medicines:

Keep them out of the child’s reach in a locked cupboard.

The same goes for nonprescription and natural medicines.

Also, ask overnight guests to keep their medicines secure.

• Household chemicals:


Store them out of the child’s reach in a lockable cupboard.

Keep them in their original containers so that they are clearly identified.

Keep strict watch over the products as you use them, and always put them away, even if you leave the room for only a moment.

Never leave residues of detergent in your dishwasher.

• Stove:

Always turn the handles of pans inward on the stove.

Attach a saucepan guard, if available.

Equip the stove with a tilt guard for safety should the child climb on the open oven door.

The oven door itself should be equipped with a locking device.

Could the child burn himself by touching the oven door? Then, attach a guard or a grating so that he cannot touch the hot door.

• Dangerous household utensils:

Knives, scissors, and dangerous appliances should be kept in cupboards or drawers with locks or catches or stored out of the child’s reach.

When you are using such utensils and temporarily put them aside, place them away from the edge of the table or counter, out of the child’s reach.

Matches and plastic bags are also dangerous items for small children.

• Stairs:

Fit gates, at least 30 inches [70-5 centimeters] high, at both ends of stairs.

• Windows and balcony doors:

Equip them with childproof safety catches or chains high up or some other safety device that prevents the child from opening them or squeezing through them when they are opened to air out the room.

• Bookshelves:

If the child likes to climb and hang on things, secure bookshelves and other tall furniture to the wall, to keep them from falling over.

• Power outlets and electric cords:

Outlets not in use must be equipped with some kind of lock.

Cords for table lamps and the like should be attached to the wall or to furniture so that the child cannot pull down the lamp and be struck by it. Otherwise, take such lamps away.

Never leave the electric iron on the ironing board, and do not let the cord hang down loose.

• Hot water:

If you can adjust the temperature of your hot water, you should put it down to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit [about 50 degrees Celsius] so that the child will not be scalded if he or she turns on the tap.

• Toys:

Discard toys with sharp edges or corners.

Throw away small toys or toys that can be pulled into small pieces, as they can choke the child if put into the mouth.

Eyes and noses on the child’s teddy bears should be securely fixed.

Teach older brothers and sisters to remove their small toys when the baby is on the floor.

• Candy and snacks:

Do not leave candy and snacks, such as peanuts or hard sweets, within reach. They could get stuck in a child’s throat.


In case of an accident 

A father carrying his injured child.

• Poisoning:

If the child has swallowed some toxic liquid, rinse its mouth thoroughly and give it one or two glasses of water or milk to drink.

Thereafter, call a doctor or a poison information center for advice.

If the child has got something corrosive in its eye, immediately rinse with plenty of water for at least ten minutes.

• Burns:

For minor burns, apply cold (not too cold) water on the injury for at least 20 minutes.

If the injury is bigger than the child’s palm or is located on the face, a joint, or the lower abdomen or genitals, you should take the child to an emergency room.

Deeper skin injuries must always be treated by a doctor.

• Choking:

If something has got stuck in the child’s windpipe, it is most urgent that you get the object out quickly.

One effective method you might resort to is the Heimlich maneuver.

If you are not familiar with it, contact your doctor in order to get more information about this method, or attend a child-accident or first-aid course where this method is taught.

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