“There are possible falls, cuts, burning, electric shocks, fire, drowning…”
I want to close my ears shut and not pay attention to this gory list.
However, reality is seldom sweet and as a parent, I should be aware of the possible dangers my child might face at our home. And that’s where child safety comes in.
Shiva is an on-call emergency first aid nurse at the BSES Hospital in Mumbai. I’ve hurt my toe and am here for a dressing. I see many children waiting at the ward, so I ask him the reasons. He, in turn, makes my injury more unbearable by enlisting a set of issues that he witnesses on a day-to-day basis.
As he continues to talk in Hindi, I jot down what he has got to say.
This list of child safety tips will help you:
1) Do the ‘drink’ thing
When I ask Shiva how many incidents of burns happen in kids, he says in the don’t-you-know-anything sort of a tone, “Chai, caffee ma’am!”
Children can get burnt or burn themselves even 10-15 minutes after a hot beverage is made. Since they have soft and sensitive skin, they are more likely to get scars than adults.
“Most cases of scalding in kids are because of drink spills or basic errors in the kitchen.”
So how do we protect children from such risks? Here’s what I learnt:
Passing the parcel
The parcel in question here is a hot beverage, and the point is that we should avoid passing hot drinks around, in a home, with kids.
“When a woman is feeding her baby, she should never be handed a hot drink,” says Charlotte, who works at the medicine department of Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto, Canada. We’ve recently reconnected and are chatting about kids.
When I asked her about child safety, she too pointed out that burning and scalding are pressing issues.
“We should avoid keeping cups and mugs of beverages on tables with low height,” she adds and then says that even on high tables, hot beverages should never be kept towards the corner or edges.
Pots and pans!
“While cooking, the handles of pots and pans should never be facing the end where the child can see them or reach them,” insists Charlotte.
Pots and pans attract most children and a hot handle can burn them.
Both Shiva and Charlotte pointed out that the injuries caused due to boiling water. Boiling water, especially when eggs boil, splutters out. We need to make sure that the pot of boiling water is always at the rear end of the stove and not at the end with the regulators.
2) The bathroom rules
Charlotte is quite insistent upon bath-time safety. Although in India, we do not run bathtub-baths for our children, we do have buckets and those can offer the same amount of risks.
Run a cold tap
When children enter the bathroom (even if they are one-year-olds), they are quite eager to take a bath or at least touch the water. This is the reason why you should always run the cold tap first. Once you have a good amount of cold water, add the hot water to even it out.
“If you run the hot tap first, an eager child might touch it and that is good enough to bum him or her,” adds Charlotte.
She mentions that the store regularly sells medication to parents whose curious children have touched hot water during baths.
Get a thermostat
Getting a thermostat to regulate the temperature of water in your taps is also a good idea to avoid injuries in the bathroom.
“A thermostat keeps you stress-free since you know that extreme temperatures are not allowed through the taps.”
I think she has made a good point even for my five-year-old who is quite a risk-taker in the bathroom.
Thermostats, here we come!
3) There’s many a slip between the…
I know I know! The idiom looks out of place here but it came to my mind immediately when I thought about the many falls and slips that our children go through?
In the bathroom
Get a mat! friction-creating (non-slip) mats are the best answers for all the bathroom slips and falls for children, says Charlotte.
Invest in the best quality mats for the bathroom and make sure that kids take their bathroom slippers off only for a bath. The slipper and mat together, help in avoiding injury to a very large extent.
In the bedroom
Avoid too much floor décor or furniture in the bedroom. If you have no choice, then cover the corners and edges of furniture using foam and adhesive tape. These don’t prevent falls but reduce the risk of injury to a large extent.
Well, this is one place where even adults can slip.
Children are quite prone to falling off the stairs. If you have stairs inside your homes, make sure that you don’t polish the flooring. Rough flooring provides friction to avoid slips.
If there’s a little child in your house, invest in some stair-t0-stair carpeting. It not only looks great but also provides a good buffer to avoid injuries.
In the living room
“If you have rugs, coat them from underneath.” Charlotte is telling me to coat my living room rugs with a non-slip coating. This prevents them from slipping.
However, what if your child can slip walking barefoot on the floor like mine does? I feel he should walk around the house with a helmet on, at all times.
Anyway, coming back to the point, in the living room, keep enough distance between furniture so that your child can move around easily. Wipe spills of water immediately, and make sure that your kid child does not spill food near the corners. If he/she does, wipe it clean immediately.
Keep a floor setting
For a few initial years, keep a floor setting with cushions and pillows where the child can play. Children don’t like to sit on furniture and when they do, they are too fidgety to stay. This is when they fall and injure themselves.
“Get those pretty ABC foam mats. I love them,” is Charlotte’s advice to me.
You can follow it too.
4) Shock hazards
“Haath neela ho jaata hai. WBC gir jaata hai (Hands turn blue and the WBC count drops),” says Shiva when I ask him about electric shocks and children.
He says that children have tiny fingers, tiny enough to reach the insides of any socket. When they get an electric shock, their WBC count drops and that causes low immunity.
Deeply saddened that he has experienced such cases, I still probe on.
He says that many a time, floor lamps fall on children because they crawl to tiny corners and pull wires.
“One child suffered an electric shock from the microwave oven.”
Scary isn’t it?
The way out
Keep all appliances at a safe distance from your child. Make sure that the back of the refrigerator is not accessible.
As soon as you finish ironing your clothes, store the iron box in a place where your child cannot reach (making sure that the wire is not hanging for them to pull it down).
I went to a local electronic store and asked the salesman for child-safe measures that we could take. He offered the socket cover (I’m sure everybody is aware of) that block electric sockets when not in use.
He also showed an interesting holder into which wires could be folded and stacked behind heavy furniture. For example, if you have a floor lamp, you can cover its wire in this holder and push it behind furniture.
“Avoid isolated floor lamps and fixtures for a few years,” is what Charlotte says.
Don’t you agree?
5) Hazards galore
Remember the opening line of this piece? Shiva was recounting the many injuries that he deals with in the emergency ward of a hospital. The following pointers highlight most of them:
Babies can drown even in half a tub of water. This is a scary fact I was recently made aware of.
If you have put your baby in the bathing tub and the doorbell rings, make sure to pick it up, wrap it in a towel, and then attend the door.
Baby tubs are not as safe as they claim to be. Even toddlers can suffer choking in a bathtub if left unattended.
Babies and toddlers get themselves into trouble by drinking bath water. They use the mugs or their bath toys to drink water and sometimes, overdo it.
Therefore, it’s best not to leave children unattended during bath times–even if you have bought every safety mechanism in the market.
I remember my grandma telling me that coins are the most unsafe things for a child.
“These days it’s pillows,” says Charlotte. The logic is the same. If children swallow things that can get stuck in their throats and suffocate them, we need to keep those things away. However, babies can do the same with the pillows on their bed.
“Too much décor of the baby cot with fluffy pillows and soft toys might offer risks.”
Charlotte tells me that a safe place to sleep means that the cot is free of excesses. A single blanket with a single pillow under the baby’s head is all that is needed.
If you use a baby monitor, place it outside the cot. Leave the sleeping area free of chaos to avoid any injury, or threat of suffocation.
The unsafe bin!
“Whenever he gets hold of anything risky, I take it from him and put it in the bin,” says Rina while discussing safety around her one-year-old.
Shiva recounts an occasion when a child had cut himself by getting hold of a pin from the waste basket. There are also cases of trying to swallow batteries and bits of used wrapping foam, found in the bin.
“When children fancy something, they follow its whereabouts–especially crawling babies,” says Shiva.
He adds that when children notice something that they want, and which has been taken away from them, they might even search the bin for it.
Imagine the things that we put in a bin. Therefore, bin carefully!
Mowgli at home
Just when I had had enough, Shiva recounts one last experience. However, he laughs as he talks about it so it makes me feel better.
A certain four-year-old had hurt his nose (just a little) and Shiva had dressed it. The cause of injury: the Tarzan-in-making had tried to fly from one end of the room to the other by hanging on to the curtains.
Safe gymnastic classes, anyone?
Hazards reckon your child in many forms, and we cannot possibly pre-empt them all the time. However, keeping a few safety tips handy wouldn’t hurt, would it?
What are the safety measures that you take for your child at home? Share a few safety tips with us in the ‘Comments’ section below.
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