Children bring a great deal of joy into our lives, but they can also terrify the life out of their parents. Keeping a child safe is a full-time job for any caregiver, and despite everybody’s best efforts, the average house and garden can provide a litany of unexpected risks and hazards. This guide will help identify the dangers that can be found throughout your home, and more importantly, how you can combat these jeopardies before they even occur.
Guarding Children against Trips and Falls
Bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes are an integral part of childhood, but we still all have a responsibility to do what we can to minimise the risk such mishaps.
- SafeHome4Me offer all kinds of advice on how to keep children safe in your home and garden, including toys and outdoor activities.
- Keep an eye on glass in your home. Windows should not open more than 6.5cm in any house where children live to prevent them from squirming out and risking a fall, and minimum safety standards must always be observed.
- Child Action Prevention Trust, who we’ll be hearing a lot from in this article, offer some suggestions on how to keep furniture safe from child-based calamities. Children love to explore, so safety gates should be left on staircases for as long as possible.
Keeping Medications, Poisons and Hazardous Chemicals Safe from Children
Children explore the world with their mouths, which means they won’t think twice about tasting something to see what it offers. This can obviously be extremely dangerous with medications, household chemicals such as bleach, and even make-up. Keep medication and chemicals on a high shelf away from a child’s reach, and ensure that the safety caps are screwed tightly at all times.
- Child Action Prevention Trust offers plenty of helpful advice on this front.
- Products in your home, including domestic cleaning products, should satisfy European safety standards – ensure that this is the case.
- Do not hesitate to contact emergency services if your child ingests a poisonous chemical such as bleach or medication.
Keeping Electrical Appliances Safe for Children
Small fingers, inquisitive minds and plug sockets are a dangerous combination. While it’s tempting for any new parent to rush out and purchase electrical socket covers, the NHS warn that this is often not the way forward. Instead, consider some of these alternative actions.
- Switched on Kids can educate your children about electrical dangers in the home, using a Flash game on the site.
- Electrical Safety First has an invaluable guide for parents as to how to childproof the electrical elements of their home.
- Child Accident Prevention Trust also has a detailed guide to electrical safety.
- The Government website lists the legal requirements to satisfy all elements of electrical safety in the UK.
Children and Pets
Every child needs a best friend, and four-legged companions often make the most loyal and lovable cohorts of all. There are a few things that you should consider before bringing a pet into a home with children, however, or indeed if you are introducing a new child to an animal-occupied home.
- The RSPCA has a handy guide for how children should interact with dogs, arguably the trickiest relationship to master, but ultimately the most rewarding.
- Kids Health offers child-friendly advice on how to act around different animals, be they domesticated or not.
- Safe Kids offers a guide as to which kind of pet may be best for your family and children.
Neglect and Emotional Abuse of Children and Young People
Child welfare and parental responsibility runs beyond merely ensuring that children are fed and clothed, but if these basic needs are not being met, the authorities take such matters extremely seriously. If you suspect that a child is not being cared for appropriately, there are steps that can – and should – be taken.
- The NSPCC has clearly defined parameters as to what is deemed child neglect, and can offer advice as an initial port of call.
- The Government website lays out the bodies that can be contacted in such an instance, starting with your local council.
- Never hesitate to dial 999 if you consider a child’s safety to be at immediate risk. The police, along with schools and doctors, work alongside local Multi-Agency Service Hubs (MASH) to keep children safe.
- Help Guide will also help you identify emotional abuse, which is every bit as damaging as physical violence and mistreatment.
Alcohol, Drug and Sex Education for Children and Young People
We live in the information age, which can be both a blessing and a curse for parents. While there is no shortage of official, sanctioned education on critical subjects out there, the fact that children in single-digit age groups now have access to smartphones and the Internet ensures that anything not discussed with an appropriate adult can lead to all kinds of unpleasant knowledge sources.
- The Alcohol Education Trust and Alcohol Learning Centre do great work in educating young people who may be at risk of alcohol abuse.
- Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP) work with local authorities to prevent dangerous drinking and associated anti-social behavior from young people.
- Talk to Frank is a website that offers specialist, non-judgmental and no-nonsense advice on drugs, including so-called ‘legal highs’, as is DrugWise.
- Narconon is a charity that specialises in educating and assisting young people experiencing problems with drugs.
- Sex Education Forum seeks to fill any gaps left by the absence of reliable sex education in UK schools, offering a suggested curriculum for a number of age groups.
- Pantosaurus is a colourful character that will delight younger children, but also teach them in a juvenile-friendly way what is appropriate to be asked of them and their bodies.
Keeping Children and Young People Safe Online
Of course, keeping children safe from physical harm in the home is only half the battle in 21st Century Britain. The rise of social media has led to alarming statistics in cyberbullying and grooming, and keeping your children safe in the online realm is every bit as important. It’s a cliché that children grow up so fast, but technology advances even faster – you’ll need to stay ahead of the game.
- Get Safe Online has bags of advice on keeping children and young people of all age groups safe from harm on the Internet, while Childnet specialise in keeping under-5s protected.
- Bullying UK offer plenty of advice on dealing with cyberbullying and how to spot the signs, as do The Government.
- Parents Protect are dedicated to preventing sexual abuse of vulnerable children and young people, and offer plenty of steps to protect the younger members of your family from grooming.
Summary of Useful Links
There has been plenty of background reading in this article; below, you’ll find a list of the many links and external sites that we have drawn knowledge from.
- Alcohol Education Trust – alcoholeducationtrust.org
- Alcohol Learning Centre – alcohollearningcentre.org.uk
- Bullying UK – bullying.co.uk
- Child Accident Prevention Trust – capt.org.uk
- Childnet – childnet.com
- Child Safety Europe – childsafetyeurope.org
- Community Alcohol Partnerships –
- DrugWise – drugwise.org.uk
- Get Safe Online – getsafeonline.org
- Help Guide – helpguide.org
- Kids Health – kidshealth.org
- Narcocon – drug-education.co.uk
- The NSPCC – nspcc.org
- Parents Protect – parentsprotect.co.uk
- Safe Home 4 Me – safehome4me.com
- Safe Kids – safekids.co.uk
- Sex Education Forum – sexeducationforum.org.uk
- Talk to Frank – talktofrank.com
- UK Government – gov.uk