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Sunday October 6, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday October 6, 2013 MYT 8:47:03 AM
by datuk dr zulkifli ismail
Ensure that baby sleeps in a cot with the sides up. — EPA
It’s best to identify danger zones in the home and make them safe for your child.
YOUR home is your child’s world; it is where he spends most of his time eating, playing, sleeping, exploring and otherwise experiencing everything he can as his mind and body develops.
Home is also where you can shower your child with the comfort, love, and care that he deserves.
However, statistics have shown that home is also the most common place for injuries to occur.
It is the very innocence of your child that makes the home environment such a dangerous place, as it can be filled with many unexpected hazards.
As parents, you should do your part in making the home environment as safe as possible by eliminating any hazards.
In some cases, it may be necessary to buy safety products that will help prevent injuries, such as a stairguard to prevent your toddler from accessing the stairs/balcony.
Most of the time, injuries can be predicted; as they are preventable, the onus is on you to make the effort to identify possible hazards, and subsequently to address them by either removing the hazard or making it inaccessible to your child.
It is best to start this process of making the home environment as safe as possible before your baby arrives, and definitely before your child starts crawling and walking around the house.
Since most injuries happen in the kitchen, living room and staircases, these are locations that you must pay particular attention to.
Child-proofing the home
What’s the best method to reduce the risk of injury?
Ideally you should rearrange the layout of your house to create a safer environment.
It is easier if you are renovating your house as these changes can be incorporated into your home’s design; it is never too early to start making some changes or additions well before your baby begins to crawl.
However, it is sufficient if you can make it physically impossible for your child to venture into the danger zones on his own.
As a parent, you should understand your child’s developmental stages to gauge his abilities at different ages.
Preventive strategies can then be developed based on your child’s development. Just because your child cannot crawl or walk now does not mean that he cannot do it at a later stage.
So take the time to look at your home and assess the obvious risks and hazards that your child may face. If possible, remove the risk or hazard; otherwise, add a safety product to minimise the chances of injury, e.g. attaching corner covers on low tables with sharp corners.
It is recommended that every home be equipped with first aid kits, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
Other important safety products to consider include door barriers to keep young children out of the kitchen, especially during busy times, such as when you are busy preparing dinner. This will allow you to keep an eye on your child if you have placed him in a playpen in an adjacent room.
Barriers or stairguards for stairs are also an important safety product, as many falls that happen at home often occur on the stairs. By denying your child easy access to the stairs, you will be eliminating a potential hazard.
Another frequent fall area is from the bed, so ensure that baby sleeps in a cot with the sides up.
To get started on creating a safe haven at home for your child, there are three key areas that you need to focus on, namely, the living room/bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.
The living room/bedroom is one of the most dangerous areas of the house as it is an area that is often taken for granted.
Take the time to get down on the floor and see the world at your child’s level.
This will allow you to spot potential hazards that you may not see if you just walk around at your own height.
Other items to take note of include:
*Install door/stair barriers to keep your child away from staircases and/or balconies.
*Stow all cables properly by using cable organisers.
*Place televisions or any heavy objects on sturdy furniture and as far away from the front edge as possible.
*Find and identify all sharp and pointed edges; install corner guards to protect your child from head injuries, bumps and bruises.
*Keep all sliding glass doors and windows closed and locked.
If your child can walk and run, make sure you place visual cues on the sliding glass door at your child’s eye level so that he will not run into the glass by mistake.
*Avoid furniture that has glass; if you have a glass table, install a safety film to prevent the glass from shattering. Otherwise, ensure that tempered glass is used if you have no choice.
*If you have a chest-of-drawers, ensure that it will not topple on your child if he climbs it by keeping heavy items at the base.
*Carpets, rugs or any sort of covering placed on the floor should be treated with anti-skid material on its underside. This will prevent your child from slipping and falling when he walks/runs on it.
*Keep all bags, handbags, purses or anything that has straps or contains small items (e.g. silica gel in shoe boxes, etc), out of reach, as your child become entangled on the straps, and choke on or swallow the small items.
Injuries relating to the stove or oven can be very serious.
Some of the hazards may be obvious, such as hot stove tops, kettles of boiling water, or sizzling woks.
Other dangers may be hidden, such as drawers full of sharp knives. Here are some tips to take note of:
*Ensure all sharp utensils and appliances are kept out of your child’s reach.
*Install child-proof door locks on all drawers, cabinets or doors.
*Install a stove-guard at your stove; this prevents your child from reaching up and getting burnt or scalded.
*Stow all electrical cables for appliances by using cable organisers.
*Keep pots and pans away from the edge of the counter or stove, and just as importantly, their handles should face inwards.
*Never cook, prepare, carry, eat or drink hot foods while holding your child.
*Place hot foods or drinks away from the edges of the table/countertop.
*If you use table cloths, ensure they are fastened securely with pegs/clips to hold them in place; your child may pull on it and anything on the table could fall on your child and hurt him.
Most injuries in the bathroom relate to drowning and falling on slippery floors. The following points will help minimise injuries from happening:
*Always keep the door to the toilet/bathroom closed at all times.
*Never allow your child to go to the toilet/bathroom alone.
*Never leave baby alone in the toilet/bathroom or near any water (wading pool, pail, etc).
*Always start with cold water when preparing your baby’s bath. Add in the hot water and test the temperature until it is correct before putting your baby in. If you must add hot water, take your baby out of the bath first.
*If your bathroom has a bathtub, install a rubber mat or anti-slip pad at its base to prevent your child from slipping and falling.
*Keep all electrical appliances (hair dryer, etc) away from sinks, tubs or toilets.
*Unused pails should be emptied of water; if you are using a pail to soak clothes, either cover it up securely or keep your bathroom door closed to keep your child out.
It is every parents’ wish to see their child grow up safe from harm and danger. In light of this, there is no harm in being overly cautious, especially when it comes to your child’s safety.
Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail is a consultant paediatrician and paediatric cardiologist. This article is a courtesy of Malaysian Paediatric Association’s Positive Parenting programme. The opinion expressed in the article is the view of the author. For further information, please visit www.mypositiveparenting.org.
Tags / Keywords:
Health, child health, child safety
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