KEEPING your children safe at home is one of parents most important concerns.
But safety requirements change as children get older so it’s important to ensure your home is safe at every stage of their growth.
Parent consultant Kirsty Ketley revealed babies and young children are naturally curious so seeing things through the eyes of a child is important.
The qualified Early Years Practitioner, who shares her tips on her website, said in the UK, more than one million children end up in hospital each year due to accidents within the home, with the most at risk being children under 5.
That said, she advised parents to remember there are risks for all age groups, so regular assessments as your child grows are key.
Kirsty, who has more than 20 years' experience working with families, said: “I am a qualified Early Years and parent consultant, based in Surrey. Safety is always important.
“It’s important to see things through the eyes of a child when you are looking to make your home as safe as possible.”
The parenting expert revealed her checklist for ensuring the home is safe for children of all ages – from baby to toddlers, young children and teens.
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Kirsty revealed that one of the top things on the checklist for keeping babies safe at home is ensuring that they sleep safely.
She said: “This means placing babies on their backs to sleep, feet at the bottom of the cot/crib, with no loose bedding or toys.
“For the first 6 months, it is advised that babies sleep in the same room as their parents. The Lullaby Trust is a great source for safe sleep tips.”
Kirsty also explained you can keep babies safe at home by checking how you change them.
She reminded parents that babies should not be left unsupervised on a changing unit, and it is actually safer to do nappy changes on the floor.
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On the move
Kirsty also revealed the safety points to add to your checklist once your baby is on the move.
She said: “Once your baby is on the move, stair gates are a must for stairs.
“They are a great way to keep babies out of the kitchen or any room where they could get into trouble.”
In the car
It’s not just around the home that you need to have a checklist to ensure baby safety, cars can be dangerous too.
Kirsty advised that it’s best to keep babies rear-facing for as long as possible and they are safest in the backseat of the car. If they have to be in the front seat, make sure that the airbag is switched off.
For toddlers, Kirsty explained that the home safety checklist changes and it’s all about keeping things out of reach.
Out of reach
She said: “Keep medicines, washing tablets, dishwasher tablets and cleaning products out of reach, ideally in a high cupboard so they’re out of reach and sight.
“Also, make sure that blind cords are out of reach by moving cots and other furniture well away from windows so toddlers can't climb.
“And, make sure that the blinds are fastened in a figure of eight and fit a cleat.”
The parenting expert also reminded parents to add using window locks to their checklist as these prevent windows from opening more than 12cm.
Ideally, parents should also keep their cooker switched off at the wall.
She said: “This is good to have on your home safety checklist so that your little one can't turn on the knobs – toddlers love knobs and buttons!
“Also, for any rugs that don't have a non-slip backing, put non-slip pads underneath. Toddlers love to dash about!”
Out and about
It’s also important to have a safety checklist for when you’re out and about with your toddler.
Kirsty advised parents to keep their wits about them in the park and also reminded parents of a key safety point for car seats.
She said one of the most dangerous things can be when toddlers wear a winter coat in the car seat.
She said this stops parents from being able to tighten the harness straps close enough to their child's upper body.
Kirsty explained: “Instead, use a blanket to place over them or buy a foot muff, specifically designed for being used in the car.
“You need to be careful in parks too. Check for hazards, such as broken glass, rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces.”
It is important that older children learn to be independent, explained parenting and child expert Kirsty, but it’s still wise to have a safety checklist around the home.
She suggested parents invest in a non-slip mat for the shower, particularly if the shower at home is over the bath as this will prevent children slipping.
Teaching valuable lessons
The expert also explained that it’s important for parents to teach their children to ask before trying to do things themselves.
She said: “Show them the correct way to use appliances like the microwave and toaster, with supervision until you are confident that they can manage.
“School age children understand what danger is, so explaining why we do or don't do things in the home to keep us safe is important.”
Car seats and school
Remember your mental safety checklist in the car as one of the most dangerous things can be an incorrect car seat.
Kirsty said parents should ensure their child has a seat until they reach the required height and weight.
She said: “As children reach school age, there’s more safety aspects to consider.
“The school should be responsible for anything on school grounds but parents can teach their children how to walk, scoot and cycle to school safely.”
Even when your kids become teenagers, there’s safety points to consider and it’s still worth having a checklist for keeping the home safe.
Kirsty advised parents to remind teens not to charge their tablets or phones overnight, particularly if they are left on the bed, as this is a huge potential fire hazard.
Most teens should be able to 'fend for themselves', but it’s important to remind them of certain safety factors.
Kirsty said: “Parents will have given them tools to be more independent, but it is important to make sure that they remember to turn things like the oven off and if their toast is stuck in the toaster, to switch the toaster off at the wall and unplug it, before trying to get the toast out.
“Make sure that they know who to contact in an emergency and have an escape route planned in case they have to leave the house in a fire.”
But having a teen also means there’s a lot more safety aspects to consider outside the home.
Kirsty said peer pressure is something to chat about with your teen as giving into peer pressure can be dangerous.
She explained that it’s important that parents create an environment of open communication with their child from an early age so that they have the confidence to walk away.
In the car
The parenting and child expert reminded parents that even though their children are older, it’s important to make sure they buckle up in the car.
She suggested parents talk to their teens to ensure they understand the law and the implications of not wearing a seatbelt.
Kirsty added that being ‘streetwise’ in the park is a safety aspect to consider for your teens.
She said: “Your teen needs to know that they should always tell you if they have been approached by a stranger and know how to call for help if they need it.
“Talk to them about how to say no to drugs or alcohol, and to keep phones and money safely out of view.”
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