Steps and stairs:
Children can be seriously injured from falling on, or over, steps, stairs and changes in floor levels. Prevent these unintentional injuries (often called accidents) - take action now:
- Always use stairgates at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Make sure that these are correctly fitted.
- Always keep the gates closed.
- Remember, steps at door ways etc, or changes in floor levels can pose dangers to children - use barriers or gates at these also.
- Avoid trips and falls on stairs and steps:
- Keep steps, stairs and passage ways clear - do not use stairways for storage and consider the positioning of lamps, vases etc on stairways and landings.
- Keep toys, books and clothes off stairs and steps.
- Consider the use of well fitting slippers inside the house - running in socks on a wooden or shiny floor can lead to a nasty fall.
Falls over or from items:
Children can be seriously injured from falling over or off common household items. Take action now:
- Do not use baby walkers.
- When not in use, toys should be stored neatly in an area that will allow free passage through rooms.
- Remember running in socks on a wooden or shiny floor can lead to a nasty fall.
- Do not store toys or books where children will be tempted to climb to reach them.
- Position furniture so that it causes the least obstruction - consider where coffee tables, stools etc are placed in a room.
- Fit child safety equipment like corner cushions over the corners of furniture to help prevent your child injuring themselves bumping off sharp edges.
- Fit door guards to the tops of doors. This will prevent doors from closing completely and saves children from injuring, breaking or losing their fingers.
- A low bed is recommended when baby moves from cot to bed - consider putting soft matting by the bedside.
- Children should be at least 6 years old before they are allowed to sleep on the top bunk of a bunk bed. However, also consider whether your 6 year old is developmentally ready for sleeping on the top bunk - if not delay allowing him/her to do so. Please see our bunk beds page for further information.
- Put carpet or soft matting under bunk beds and keep the area free from toys and clutter.
Changing tables and high surfaces:
In the first year of a child's life, falls are often the result of babies rolling over and moving for the first time. Serious injury can happen if your baby or toddler falls from a changing table or any surface. Take action now:
- Remember a fall can happen in the blink of an eye - never, ever leave your baby or toddler unattended on a changing table, not even for a second.
- Keep everything you need close to the changing table – nappies, wipes, creams etc - but out of reach of children
- Never leave a baby-bouncer or carrier on raised surfaces, as the baby may topple over.
- Always make sure your baby is strapped in securely to feeding chairs, bouncers, activity centre, strollers, seats (including car seats) etc.
Windows and balconies:
Make sure your windows and balconies are safe - take action now:
- Do not place furniture, beds, cots, toy boxes etc near a window or near to balcony railings - children will be tempted to climb onto the ledge.
- Secure all windows with window restrictors that don't require tools for opening.
- Make sure your child cannot get out onto the balcony without your supervision.
- Check out a Temple Street Hospital study which found a high prevalence of window falls among boys under 5 years of age.
Furniture and televisions:
We know that children love to climb and that children learning to walk will grab surfaces to steady themselves. Remember any of the following can be pulled over unless securely fastened to the floor or wall, for example:
- Televisions - most children like to get up close to the TV, even going so far as touching or kissing their favourite character!
- Chests of drawers
- Coat stands
- Other similar free-standing equipment/furniture
Such things are a serious injury risk – both from the item of furniture itself and from the contents of the furniture falling on the child. Children have lost their lives - take action now.
- Follow the advise of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and "buy safe":
- Purchase low-set furniture or furniture with sturdy, stable and broad bases.
- Look for furniture that comes with safety information or equipment for anchoring it to the walls.
- Test the furniture in the shop – make sure it is stable. For example, pull out top drawers of a chest of drawers and apply a little pressure to see how stable it is; make sure the drawers do not fall out easily.
- Secure/anchor these items to a wall or floor.
- If it is not possible to secure an item, it should be removed altogether.
- Get advice from staff in your furniture or hardware shop about how best to anchor or secure items.
- Remember that although flat screen TVs are getting lighter, they are still heavy enough to cause serious injury to a child and should be secured so that they cannot tip over.
- Use safety locks on drawers to prevent children opening them out to make a steps to climb.
- Install stops on dresser drawers to stop them being pulled out all the way (which could cause the dresser to tip over).
- Rearrange household items - keep heavier items in lower shelves and do not store toys, books, food, remote controls etc where children are tempted to climb to get at them.
- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have produced this informative video about toppling furniture. Although the statistics relate to Australia, the dangers outlined are relevant to Ireland, as are the solutions.
- Sharp edges on tables, shelves, and furniture can cause nasty injuries:
- Use covers to guard sharp edges on tables and furniture etc.
- Avoid furniture with sharp edges where possible, especially in children’s bedrooms
- Use child safety equipment such as corner cushions over the corners of furniture to help prevent your child injuring themselves bumping off sharp edges.
- Fit door finger guards to the tops of doors. This will prevent doors from closing completely and saves children from injuring, breaking or losing their fingers.
Household appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers etc
Children like to explore and a washing machine with an open door, or a door which is easy to open, may seem like an invitation to climb in. Take action now:
- Keep the doors of dishwashers, machines and dryers closed at all times.
- Fit appropriate safety locks on all larger household appliances - fridges, washers, dryers, dish-washers etc.
It is important that we encourage our children to play outdoors whenever possible - this promotes healthy development and physical activity. Take action now to reduce the risks:
- Supervise your children while they play.
- Allow children to play only on equipment suitable to their age and developmental stage.
- Put soft matting under outdoor play equipment.
- Check that all play equipment is in good condition - both in your own home and before you let your children on play equipment in parks, other houses, etc.
- Make sure that safety features are an integral part of play equipment whether in public places or when purchasing them - for example safety net on trampolines, helmets for cycling.
- Purchase good quality play equipment - make sure it has a recognised safety symbol such as the CE mark, is well made - with no sharp edges or bits sticking out which could get caught up in clothing - and can be secured to the ground safely.
- Properly assemble and secure play equipment - following manufacturer's instructions - and install all the necessary safety features.
- Locate play equipment in a safe area of the garden not too near walls, trees or hard surfaces such as tarmac, decking or paths, or near places where children might try to jump on to or off of.
- Read the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission's booklet Toys and Play Equipment Safety.
- Make sure that your children cannot access the road or the farm when they are playing outdoors.
Keep children indoors when grass or hedges are being cut. If this is not possible, they should be supervised closely by a second adult.
- Keep children well away from lawnmowers, strimmers, etc. Remember danger comes not just from body contact with the blades or motor - blade speed can also eject an object at speeds up to 100 miles per hour.
- Find out more about safe play outdoors.
Most unintentional injuries (often called accidents) can be prevented:
Remember the key message where child safety is concerned -
Watch your child at all times, as children do not understand danger
The following image is from dreamstime.com - Appliances copyright Natadanilenko