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Child Safety

Dr Valerie Said Conti MD MRCP

Accidents are the commonest cause of injury and death in childhood and much can be done to ensure that a child’s environment is safe. Some common problems and measures that can be taken to minimize these problems are highlighted under the following headings:

Burns and Scalds

  • Pots and pans should be used at the back of the cooker. Always turn long handles towards the back.
  • The bath water should be run before the child is placed in the bath.
  • check the bath temperature before placing the child in the bath.
  • The water heater temperature should be set around 49 degrees C.
  • Electrical sockets should be protected by plastic caps.
  • Children should not be allowed to play with matches or lighters.
  • Fireplaces/radiators/electric heaters should have a screen placed in front of them.

Drowning

  • A child in a bath/on the beach should be supervised at all times. Children can drown in as little as 4cm of water.
  • Fences should be put up around garden ponds and swimming pools.

Head Injuries

  • Babies should not be left unattended on beds, sofas, cots with the side down, nappy changers.
  • Gates should be placed at the bottom/top of stairs.
  • Doors leading to balconies/verandas should be kept securely closed.
  • Staircases/landings without banisters are particularly dangerous.

Inhaled Foreign Bodies

  • Toys with small parts or sharp edges/coins should not be given to children. Some toys are marked ‘not to be given to children under 36 months of age because of choking hazard’ by the manufacturer.
  • Food, which children can choke on, is best avoided and includes peanuts, hard sweets, raw carrots and popcorn, which should not be given to children under 4 years of age.
  • Children should be encouraged to sit while eating and to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing. They should be taught not to talk or laugh with food in their mouth.
  • Children should not be allowed to run, play sports or ride in the car with chewing gum, sweets or lollipops in their mouths.
  • Parents should be familiar with ways to give first aid to a choking child.
  • Balloons can be dangerous to children under 8 years of age. Children might inhale plastic bits whilst trying to blow the balloon. An inflated balloon which bursts can cause small rubber pieces to enter to mouth and be inhaled.

Poisoning

  • Medicines and household agents should be kept out of children’s reach in locked cupboards or on high shelves.
  • Household products should not be stored in containers that usually contain foods/drinks e.g. bleaches in mineral water bottles.
  • A child should never be told that medicine is ‘sweets’.

Traffic Accidents

  • Children under 1 year of age should be placed in an infant car seat which is rear facing, in the back seat of the car. Children from 1 year to 4 ˝ years of age should be placed in car seats which are forward facing, in the back seat.
  • Children under 12 years of age should not ride in the front seat of the car. They should use a booster seat with the safety belt in the back seat.
  • Too often mothers are seen holding their infants on their laps in the front seat and older children can often be seen roaming freely all over the car. Both situations are potentially dangerous and must be avoided. All children aged 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

2003

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