Home Child Safety South Africa
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Itís essential to childproof your home to keep your young children safe. These tips will help protect your child from hazards in and
around your house.
Raising a child is an exciting experience. It can also be stressful due to the many safety concerns involved. Before
a child starts crawling, itís relatively easy to keep track of your child and control what they do. However, when your child starts
crawling, the nature of the game changes and you have to take steps to mitigate the risks posed by the immediate environment. This
is commonly referred to as Ďchild proofingí.
Childproofing a home can be relatively straightforward or complicated depending on the
nature of the home. A good place to start is to get down on your hands and knees and look at the immediate environment from a babyís
point of view. What catches your eye? Is there anything which could fall on your child if it was pulled or pushed? Is there anything
on the floor or on shelves which could be a choking hazard? Does any of your furniture have jagged corners or exposed nails? Are there
areas which your child could potentially get stuck?
There are but a few of the questions which you need to ask before you let your
child wander around your home. You will also have to re-assess your home as your child gets bigger and learns how to walk and climb.
In order to facilitate your childproofing efforts, itís best to focus on one room at a time, research the matter and consult with
childproofing experts if necessary. The following tips should also come in handy.
The kitchen poses multiple hazards to
a young child so you may want to consider barring your child from entering this area entirely through the use of a safety gate. If
you are comfortable to let your child roam the kitchen, consider the following:
- Remove any and all cleaning aids, detergents and poisons
from cupboards and drawers which can be accessed by your child and lock them away in a cupboard which cannot be easily reached. There
are numerous child safety mechanisms which can be attached to cupboards and drawers for this purpose. In line with this, when using
any of the above, be sure to pack them away immediately after use.
- When using the stove, try to restrict usage to the back plates and
make sure all pot and pan handles are turned away from where inquisitive little hands might be able to reach them. You might also
want to consider installing an oven lock.
- Keep all sharp utensils (especially knives) and associated kitchenware out of reach and
away from kitchen counter edges when in use. Again, child safety locks are arguably the best way to prevent access to such items.
Barring access to the bathroom isnít always really viable so itís important to make sure this room is child friendly.
- Medicine cabinets can pose a serious risk to children in bathrooms. Itís best to install a fixed medicine cabinet which can be locked.
Free-standing medicine chests can fall onto children and any loose contents could easily be ingested. Even if your cabinet is locked,
make sure all the medications and vitamins are stored in child proof containers and dispose of old and expired products.
- Be sure to
keep all razors and razor blades well out of reach at all times.
- Toiletries such as shampoo and body wash may not seem like much of
a risk but if ingested by a child can be hazardous. Items such as these should also be kept out of reach, preferably in a locked vanity
or on a high shelf well out of reach.
- Toilets and hot bathroom water can pose a risk. Over the years there have been numerous cases
where children have drowned in toilets or have been burned by hot bathroom tap water. Toilet locks and anti-scalding devices are available
for those concerned about such risks.
- If you have any electrical outlets in your bathroom for shavers or hair dryers, make sure you
install outlet protectors and disconnect and pack away any accessories after use.
- Come bath time, never leave your child alone unsupervised.
Children can drown very quickly in very little water.
Dining rooms, living rooms and bedrooms:
When considering these rooms,
think about whether or not they really are suitable for your child. For example, although not necessarily dangerous, a formal dining
room filled with expensive furniture, silverware, alcohol and precious antiques is not really a place for a child. As such, itís probably
best to bar entry to such a room with the use of a child safety gate until your child is older. Informal living rooms, lounges and
bedrooms on the other hand typically make for great spaces within which your child can play and interact with you.
- If any stairs lead
to these areas, be sure to fit safety gates at the bottom and top of the stairs.
- Secure heavy furniture and appliances such as bookcases
and TVís to a wall with the use of brackets or similar as such items can pose a real risk to small children if pulled over. Itís also
a good idea to remove or place heavy items such as books on lower shelves.
- Generally speaking, curtains should be safe. Blinds however
can pose a strangling hazard if they have looped chords so make sure any blinds you have are child safe. Cribs should also not be
placed anywhere near blind chords.
- If sharp furniture corners are a concern, there are loads of edge and corner Ďbumperí products
on the market which can be used to prevent injury.
- Cover all electricity outlets with outlet covers when not in use.
- When your child
starts climbing, you may need to move certain pieces of furniture away from windows.
- Windows can be extremely hazardous for children,
particularly if they open up from raised elevations. There are numerous window locks and guards which have been designed specifically
to keep children safe and are worth investigating if you think this poses a risk in your home.
- Make sure all toys and associated items
in these rooms are child friendly.
The garage, garden and pool:
It goes without saying that these areas pose numerous risks
to young children.
- Your garage should be blocked off entirely by a door and safety gate.
- Do not leave your young child unsupervised
in a garden as they could eat a toxic plant, berries or seeds or get stuck somewhere.
- Do not leave buckets of water or wading pools
- If you have a pool, make sure that it is enclosed by an appropriate fence and locked with a good gate. The same applies
- Make sure your child cannot access driveways and roads at all times.
Lastly, keep in mind that small children need
to be supervised at all times. You should also consider installing appropriate fire detection and prevention mechanisms such as smoke
detectors and extinguishers throughout your house. A first aid kit is a must and a list of emergency contact numbers saved on your
phone is also essential when there are young children around.
Article by Private Property
Inspected once, Inspected Right!ģ
Thousands of children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year in South Africa. The good news is that many of these
incidents can be prevented by using simple child safety devices on the market today.
Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough
to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It's important to follow installation instructions carefully. In addition,
if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof;
determined youngsters have been known to disable them.
You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a
professional do it. Safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug
stores, home and linen stores, and through mail order catalogues.
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