How to keep grandchildren safe in your home

Children are always at risk of injury, even when in the homes of relatives and grandparents. For many of us, childproofing our homes is a distant memory but with grandchildren on the scene, it’s worth taking a good look around to see what hazards you might have overlooked.

Fortunately there are many simple measures that can be taken to prevent accidents from occurring in your home. It is a case of taking a critical view of objects around your home and understanding where the potentials for hazards are. Take the time to get down and crawl around the home so that you can see for yourself where curious hands and adventurous spirits might roam.

While childproofing the home is equally important for grandparents and families, property investors should also take the time to understand how child-friendly their investment property is, as it may represent a marketing point for their investment property.

Injuries are the leading cause of death in Australian children aged one to fourteen, accounting for nearly half of all deaths in this age group. More children die from injury than of cancer, asthma and infectious diseases combined.

Unintentional injuries make up around 95 per cent of all child injury deaths, with young children under the age of five years most at risk of unintentional injury. The most common place for young children to be injured is in their own home, so ensuring the safety of our homes should be paramount for parents to keep their children safe. There are so many things that are precariously balanced, just waiting to be pulled down, knocked over, bumped into or climbed on.

And as children become more mobile and dexterous, they love to put things in their mouths and they don’t discriminate between toxics or poisons and lollies or biscuits. So, cast your mind back to when you were a young parent and take a critical look around your home and garage. You might be amazed what hazards you find lurking. Here are some tips:

The kitchen

Dangers abound in your kitchen so if you can’t prevent access, make sure you keep a close eye on children while cooking. Make sure small hands can’t reach the handles of pots and pans on the stove – use the back burners instead. Lock up detergents, pesticides, cleaning products and toxic household chemicals – or place them well out of reach in a high cabinet. With babies between 6 and 25 months old, make sure safety latches are fitted but still take the precaution of placing dangerous chemicals high up.

Store plastic bags, cling wrap and aluminium foil out of reach. Plastic bags and cling wrap are suffocation hazards whereas the sharp edges of boxes and foil are dangerous to curious hands. Keep knives safely secured.

Glassware should be stored up high, move the toaster, coffee maker and other electrical appliances and their cords out of a child’s reach.

Ultimately, be careful to never leave hot food, drinks, glassware or knives unattended, not even for a few moments. Don’t forget that tablecloths and placemats can provide opportunities for young children to pull both them and what stands on them down.

The bathroom

Similar to your kitchen, the bathroom plays hosts to a series of potential hazards.

There are childproof doorknob covers and other preventative measures you can take to prevent children gaining access to your bathroom.

One of the primary risks is your toilet. Small children are very curious, have poor coordination, and are particularly top-heavy. It’s possible for them to topple head first into a toilet and drown in as little as 3cm of water. Keep the toilet lip down and consider fitting a lid-lock.

Watch out for sharps! Razor blades, nail clippers, scissors, tweezers and sharp utensils should be stored up high and out of reach.

Appliances that generate heat, like hair dryers, curling wands or straightening irons should never be left plugged in and, again, should be locked away or stored where they can’t be reached.

Cosmetics and medications, especially prescription drugs, must be kept in a high cupboard or locked away. Don’t forget about vitamins and things like mouthwash either. Multi-vitamins that contain iron can be poisonous to children and mouthwash contains more alcohol than wine.

Naturally, keep all electrical appliances well clear of water to avoid risk of electrocution. Your hot water heater should also be set at no higher than 49 degrees centigrade. Bath tap handles and spouts are places where babies can hit their head so use rubber guards or make certain babies stay at the safer end of the bath.

Keep in mind the risk of you slipping and injuring a child as well. Could a non-slip mat placed inside and/or alongside the bathtub help assure neither you or a child in your care gets injured?

Never leave children alone and unsupervised anywhere where there is water, not even briefly. If the phone rings or there’s somebody at the door, remove the child from the water, wrap them in a towel, and take them with you. Don’t leave anything cooking on the stove when it’s bath time for children. You need to be certain nothing can distract you from watchful supervision.

Everybody has their own tips and tricks, when it comes to managing children and keeping them safe. Tell us your success stories below.