Every day in New Zealand about a classroom full of children (22) is admitted to hospital because of unintentional injuries or accidents. For young children (birth to 4 years old) most of these injuries happen in the home environment.
Media stories have reported injuries with serious or fatal consequences to children: being burned by fire; injured playing in a parked car; swallowing button batteries, high-powered magnets and cleaning chemicals; and crushed by large flat screen TVs.
"Young children are injured more at home because they spend more time there, particularly in winter. This is why keeping a safe home environment where children can grow and learn is important," said Safekids New Zealand Director Ann Weaver.
A strategy Safekids suggests is to take a baby or a small child's point of view. "Get down low. What do you see? Can you see lighters, matches, medicine, chemicals or batteries left lying around? Are there toys or food on top-heavy furniture that they can be tempted to climb?" Ms Weaver added.
More importantly, Ms Weaver emphasised the importance of active supervision. "Always stay in sight and within reach of babies and young children."
Below are tips to keep kids safe in and around the home this winter:
- Store matches, lighters, medicine and chemicals in a safe place. Letting kids play with these products is like leaving them with a loaded gun. Keep these locked away, out of sight and reach.
- Have working smoke alarms. The end of daylight saving time is a good reminder to check your smoke alarms. Unless you have long-life photoelectric alarms, change batteries AT LEAST once a year.
- Warm up safely. Teach kids the "keep a metre from the heater" rule. If the child is very young, use a safety guard.
- Hot water burns like fire. A child's skin is much thinner than an adult's. Keep a hot cuppa on the middle of the table, and watch out for kids when holding tea, coffee or eating soup.
- Secure TVs and top heavy furniture to a wall. Babies may try to climb TVs, ovens, book shelves and dishwashers. Secure these to the wall or floor using a safety device.
- Remember the S.A.F.E. rule against poisoning. STORE all medicines and chemicals out of children's sight and reach; ASK your pharmacist for safety caps on medicines; FOLLOW the dose instructions from your doctor or pharmacist; and ENSURE you follow safety instructions on medicines, chemicals and cleaners.
- Button battery dangers. It takes just two hours for a button battery to cause severe burns once swallowed. Search for and secure gadgets that may contain coin lithium batteries, and keep loose batteries out of sight and reach of children.