Who is at risk?
Children from birth to five years old are among the most vulnerable family members. More than 20, 000
children each year are seen in emergency departments across Canada with injuries that occurred in the
home. They are at risk for injuries at every stage of their development. The risk factors are their
exploratory and innate curiosity, limited cognitive perception, experience, mobility and coordination.
What types of injuries occur in the home?
Falls account for most of the common injuries in the home. Falls occur from beds, stairs, high surfaces
such as tables, chairs etc. These falls can result in broken bones and or head injuries.
Some of the physical environments that puts them at risk are, stairs, bathtubs, pools, basements, play
pens, electric sockets, furniture, water temperatures (not an exhaustive list). Although these things are
good and helpful in their rights, they are also very dangerous when it comes to our children if they are
not supervised carefully.
For example, play pens are necessary tools for the parents, however, if not used correctly or stored
properly when not in use, can be become hazardous for all of us including our children, putting them at risk. Also, if the playpen is second-hand, it is critical that parents ensure that there are no missing parts and that it is operationally safe.
Baby walkers with wheels-Many parents use baby walkers to help their children get some exercise or
even help them move around on their feet. However, many children have suffered serious injuries while
in a walker. The types of injuries included head injuries, falling down the stairs causing broken
bones, broken teeth etc.
Canada banned baby walkers in 2004. Possession of a baby walker can lead to fines up to
$100,000 or six months in jail. But in some countries, more than 75 percent of babies still use
walkers– and the injuries continue. Instead of a walker, consider an activity saucer that doesn’t
Baby bath seats with suction cups– Research shows that bath seats with suction cups creates a false sense of security. Parents have stepped away for brief moments and have returned to a drowned baby or near drowning situations. The seats are known to tip over and have
trapped infants under the water. Ensure careful supervision when you are bathing/changing children.
In the babysitting course we emphasize the following:
- Never leave a baby or infant unattended during diaper change or bath. They should always be
within arm’s reach.
- Gather everything you will need for a diaper change or bath so do you do not have to leave the infant/baby for any reason
Child safety gates-There are many benefits to having a baby gate for example, they are a safety gate that prevents the child from roaming into unsafe areas of the home such as the kitchen, balcony, and away from harmful products etc. They are often installed at the top or bottom of an open stairways. The top of the stairs is the most critical place. Parents should ensure that they have a hardware- mounted sound and sturdy gate that can withstand shaking and pressure. Also, make sure that the bars on the gate is safe enough for your little one as children tend to push their heads and arms through openings where they could become stuck and possibly choke. If possible, refrain from buying a used gate as you cannot be certain that it still meets safety standards.
Minimizing injuries-Parents, you are on duty all the time and keeping your children safe in the home is a priority. Many of these injuries are predictable and preventable. As parents, you are task with the responsibility to childproof and make changes to the home environment as your children grows and develops to keep them safe. Therefore, planning for children’s safety is the most effective way to prevent injuries.
Here are a few practical suggestions:
- Supervise! Supervise! Supervise! And pay attention to home safety.
- Don’t put your child at risk to answer the phone. If it is important, the caller will call back or leave a message.
- Learn CPR and or take a safety course.
- Keep emergency phone numbers close at hand.
- If accidents happen, stay calm and call for help immediately