Child Safety Hot Topics

Child Safety Hot Topics - a few news items, alerts & safety messages


  • "News and Alerts" from the Road Safety Authority.
  • "Product recalls" by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.  These products can include equipment, toys and items intended for use by children.

"It's colourless, it's odourless, it's hard to detect, so carbon monoxide deserves your respect ...."   Carbon monoxide (CO) gas can be released by any fuel that burns, including coal, turf, oil, gas and wood.   It is a lethal gas, but there’s a lot you can do to protect your family from it. Remember:

  • Get fuel-burning appliances serviced and chimneys swept every year
  • Have at least one audible (easy to hear) carbon monoxide alarm installed in your home and anywhere else you burn fuel
  • Never run a car, lawnmower, generator or other engine-powered equipment in any confined, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
  • Make sure your family and friends are aware of the dangers of CO poisoning and how to prevent it - encourage them to read "The facts about carbon monoxide" leaflet which also outlines the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and what to do if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off.

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Quad bikes, mini-motorbikes and other mini-motorised vehicles:  With Christmas only days away, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are advising parents who might be considering buying their child a mini-motorbike or quad bike of the dangers associated with these types of vehicles.  Tragically mishaps on these vehicles have resulted in the deaths of children in the UK and Ireland over recent years.  Remember, these items are not toys.  Find out more at www.garda.ie

In fact, this is such a serious issue that Santa Claus himself decided to write to the Garda Commissioner.  You can see Santa's letter by clicking here.

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Be safe, be seen:
Look out - Stand out !Now that the clocks have gone back by an hour, the evenings are darker. 

So make sure that you and your children can be seen when out and about

Hi-vis clothing is essential in the dark evenings and when the weather makes it harder to see and be seen.   

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STOP Fire - working smoke alarms save lives:

  • smoke alarmSmoke alarms - have at least one on every floor.
  • Test your smoke alarms weekly, or ask someone to check them for you.
  • Obvious dangers - look for fire risks like overloaded sockets, candles and unattended appliances.
  • Plan your escape route - keep access routes clear and have your keys at the ready.

For more information visit, www.firesafetyweek.ie

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Irish Road Safety Week (IRSW) takes place from Monday 1 October to Sunday 7 October with lots of road safety activities planned nationwide.  For more information, visit www.rsa.ie

Road Safety Week 2018

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Back to School Safety
The new school year is underway and we have some tips that will help you put child safety on the back to school list. Visit our child safety and school page for more information:

  • Every child can learn basic water safety skills in the classroom!  Irish Water Safety has created an educational resource for primary schools called PAWS (Primary Aquatics Water Safety). PAWS outlines life-saving guidelines for children of every age and is available digitally to every school in the country.  PAWS teaches children how to be safe around water in homes, farms, pools, beaches and on our waterways, and is written and designed for different age groups. Find out more by visiting www.iws.ie

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child at window blind

It takes only seconds for a toddler to lose their life on a window blind or curtain cord: Blind and curtain cords are a serious strangulation risk to children.  Do not fit blinds and curtains with cords attached.  If you do have them, and cannot replace them, take steps now to make them safer.  Remember - this advice is important in any house that your child visits or where they are minded.

Visit our child safety around windows page to find out more and to view two video clips which starkly highlight the dangers associated with blind and curtain cords. 

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Hospital facilitiesPrevent scald injuries:  As the weather turns cooler, there is nothing quite like a hot drink or bowl of soup to warm us up.  But, did you know that tea or coffee, even with milk in it, is still hot enough after 15 minutes to seriously scald a young child?  Take action now, always keep hot drinks out of reach of young children and never make, or drink, a hot drink or soup whilst holding a young child. Find out more about scalds and burns here

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Safety around dogs

Always supervise your child's contact with dogs:  Dogs are an important part of many households and having a dog around can be a very positive experience for children.  However, even though dogs can be trained, they still have instinctive behaviours.  All dogs, even the most gentle, are potential biters if we behave incorrectly around them.  Constant supervision is key to making sure your child's contact with dogs is a positive and safe experience.  For information, read our Child safety and health around dogs page. 

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Keep everyone in the loop: A network of people - family, friends, childminders - can play a key and valuable role in children's lives. This network provides a lifeline for many parents.  However, it is important to:

  • in the looptake a little time to check that any place your child is taken care of is as safe as possible and
  • share with your child's carers the steps that can be taken to help prevent childhood injuries

Visit our sharing child safety advice with all who care for your children page for more information.

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 back to sleep feet to the foot of a clear cot

Did you know that your baby should not wear a hat when being put down to sleep?  Your baby loses heat through their head so covering it may cause your baby to become overheated.  We all want our babies to be cosy and comfortable as they sleep.  But overheating can increase the risk of cot death.  A baby can also overheat when asleep because of too much bedding or clothes or because the room is too hot. For more information see the "don't let baby get too hot" advice in our Safe Sleep for your Baby section.  And remember - always place your baby on their back to sleep, with their feet to the foot of their cot and their face and head free of clothes and covers.

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stairgateChild safety equipment:  There are many types of equipment available to buy that can help to protect your child from injury.  When buying equipment, make sure: 

  • it meets current safety standards
  • it is in perfect condition 
  • you assemble, install and use it correctly – as per manufacturer's instructions

For more information, please visit our Child Safety Equipment page. 

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childproofing

Did you know that most injuries in the 0-5 year age group happen in the home?  Child-proofing your home is one of the most valuable actions you can take to help reduce the chance of injuries happening there.  Child-proofing is all about spotting potential dangers and then taking action to sort them.  The best way to spot dangers is to get down to the same height as your child - it is amazing what you will notice when you view the world from your child's height!  For more information, visit our Child proofing your home (making your home "child safer") page.

Watch your child at all times as children do not understand danger:  Children love to explore, but in the blink of an eye they can wander into danger.  So supervision of our children is key to their safety - giving us every possible chance to reach them if they are attempting to do something that could cause an injury.  Of course, it also lets us spend valuable time with our children as they have fun exploring their world.  For more information visit our Child Safety - The Importance of Supervising your Children page.


Look out - Stand out !Be safe - be seen:  Now that the clocks have gone back our evenings are darker earlier.  Please make sure you and your children can be seen while  on the road. 

Please read our safety tips for lots of useful information.  


Sleep positioners and other similar products including pillows:  The HSE Child Safety Programme and the National Paediatric Mortality Register advise parents and anyone else who looks after your baby: 

Put babies on their backs to sleep.

  • not to use sleep positioners and other similar products as they do not prevent cot death and are a suffocation risk.
  • keep your baby's cot free of soft objects and anything loose or fluffy (cot bumpers, duvets, toys, positioners, pillows, wedges, bedding rolls, etc) that could suffocate or smother your child.  
  • Visit our Safe Sleep for your Baby page where we have outlined key actions that will help keep your baby safe while asleep.
  • Please note that US and UK retailers have withdrawn baby sleep positioners from sale due to the products being linked to infant deaths in the US.  Have a look at the FDA's short video about sleep positioners (this link will bring you to YouTube). More information is available from The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents - www.rospa.com - or the US Food and Drug Administration - www.fda.gov
  • Pillows and cushions of any kind are not necessary - they should not be used as they are a suffocation risk.


npic keyringPoisons Awareness:  Listen to Niamh speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke - her one and half year old son, Rory, took a liquitab from the back of a loaded washing machine and bit into it.  Niamh tells about the events leading up to the incident and about ringing the National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) for advice afterwards.  

Patricia Casey from the NPIC urges people who think their child has been poisoned to call (01) 809 2166 (7 days a week, 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.).  Your call will be answered by a Specialist in the Poisons Information Centre who will advise you if medical attention is needed.  Outside of these hours, contact your GP or hospital for advice.

Please save that number into your phone contacts now and check out the National Poisons Information Centre of Ireland website - www.poisons.ie -  for lots of poison prevention tips. 


The choking hazard of grapes - a plea for awareness:  The size and shape of grapes means that they can completely plug children’s airways with the tight seal produced by fruit’s smooth, flexible surface making them difficult to move with first aid manoeuvres.  

Children can choke on food at any age, but those under five are at higher risk – and especially children under three.  Therefore, the HSE Child Safety Programme recommends:

  • Always cutting grapes into half lengthways and then cut into quarters.  This is very important as the fruit could otherwise totally block a child's airway in a choking incident.
  • Cutting fruits such as cherry tomatoes into quarters, or smaller
  • Supervising children during meal and snack times - develop the routine that your child sits at the table accompanied by a parent/guardian. This will present opportunities for talk time with your child.
  • Making sure children sit whilst eating - children should not run around and play while eating.

Click here for lots more information about high risk choking foods and how to help prevent choking incidents from these foods.


trainTravelling by train?  Although rail transport in Ireland is a safe way to travel, the number of slips, trips and falls at Irish train stations has risen according to Iarnrod Eireann's Safety Report 2016.  Similar trends elsewhere "have been linked to changes in passenger behaviour, including the increased use of smartphones in inappropriate situations".  

When travelling by train be mindful of what is going on around you.  Train stations are busy places and any distraction can lead to trips and falls.  If travelling with children, remember to supervise them closely and make sure they stay close to you at all times.  Always hold your child's hand while on the platform and when getting on and off trains.  Lead by example by acting safely yourself.

For more safety information, read our Child safety near trains and railway tracks page.


Check it Fits

Check it Fits - The Road Safety Authority introduced ‘Check it Fits’ in response to a frightening statistic that shows that as many as 4 out of 5 child car seats are incorrectly fitted. Incorrect fitting can result in serious injury or a fatality in the event of a collision.  The RSA ‘Check it Fits’ service is open to all makes and models of cars and child car seats.  For more information and for details about how to access the service, visit www.rsa.ie and remember the service is quick, easy and free.


grandad and grandchildCalling all grandparents! Be child safety aware as you enjoy precious time spent with your grandchildren. For injury prevention tips and advice, please read our Child Safety for Grandparents page and then take a little time to check that your home is as safe as possible before your grandchildren visit.


Crashed lives is a road safety campaign featuring true life case studies in which people speak about the consequences of a crash or about the loss of loved ones in road collisions and how it has changed their lives forever - and robbed everyone of their dreams.

“Thursday 17 April 2014 was the day our lives were shattered because of drink-driving. As a mother, your instinct is to protect your children from any harm that might come their way but I wasn’t able to do this for Ciarán. Because someone decided to drink and drive that day, and his actions led to the death of my little boy. Our lives will never be the same again. I beg anyone who would think of drinking and driving to think of my little boy, and to think of the devastated family and community still mourning his loss.”  These are the words of Gillian Treacy, mother of four year old Ciarán who was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in April 2014.  This video from the RSA also tells of the profound impact Ciarán’s death had on everyone who attended the scene and attempted to save his life.

Drink drivers destroy lives, families and communities
Never, ever drink and drive


Child safety around the farm.  While farms are wonderful places to grow up around, there are many dangers - both seen and unseen.  Take action now to help keep your child safe:

Child Safety on the Farm

  • Lead by example – think "safety" and act safely on the farm.
  • Teach your child about safety on the farm - however, never expect your child to think like an adult. Children do not understand danger so always make sure your child is accompanied on the farm.
  • Supervision is key - never leave your child unattended on the farm.   Farmyards should be a ‘no go’ area for children unless they are safely accompanied by an adult. 
  • Fenced off play area - make a fenced off childis  safeplay area for your child away from the working farm.  
  • Remember this advice is also very important if children are visiting a farm.  
  • Watch Once upon a Farm - a child safety drama communicating the importance of farm and countryside safety to primary level students. 
  • What's Left Behind - A Farm Safety Appeal - Christmas will never be the same again. In this powerful video, the Higgins family and their friends recount the devastating loss of James, the most adorable, beautiful little child that you could imagine.  His dad, Pádraig, urges us to be vigilant at all times and to remember that a farmyard is not a playground.
  • See our child safety around the farm section for more information
  • Remember the key message where child safety is concerned - watch your child at all times as children do not understand danger.

Emergency - 112 or 999Do you know your Eircode?  The National Emergency Operations Centre within the National Ambulance Service uses Eircodes to send out ambulances.  Make a note of your Eircode and put it somewhere visible in case it is needed in an emergency situation.  Information about Eircodes can be found at www.eircode.ie.

Can you give good directions to your home?  Make a list of easy to follow directions to your location and put them in a visible place.  Remember, in an emergency, it can be difficult to think clearly - so take the thinking out of it by preparing your directions in advance.  

Remember - time is precious in an emergency situation.


Under the WeatherFeeling under the weather?

Undertheweather.ie, developed by the HSE in partnership with GPs and pharmacists, offers straightforward advice on how to get through common illnesses without antibiotics.


Keep detergents out of sight and reach of childrenPotential risks posed to children by liquid detergent capsules and room fresheners - The National Poisons Information Centre has issued a warning about the potential risks posed to children by liquid detergent capsules and room fresheners.  Watch the RTE news report here.  Find out more about poison prevention by reading our webpages.  Remember, if you think your child has been poisoned - do not delay - ring the Poisons Information Centre at (01) 809 2166 8 a.m.-10 p.m. every day.  Your call will be answered by a Specialist in Poisons Information who will tell you if medical attention is needed.  Outside these hours, contact your GP or hospital.


Teething BabyDangers of amber teething beads - amber beads are often sold as so-called baby “teething” aids in the form of jewellery. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred as a direct result of using these items.  The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission warn:

  • Never use amber teething jewellery such as necklaces, bracelets and anklets as relief for babies who are teething.
  • Amber teething jewellery products are unsafe for babies, and pose several serious risks:
    • Amber teething necklaces, bracelets and anklets pose a potential choking/inhalation hazard to any child under three years of age.
    • The jewellery normally contains many small amber beads which can come loose from the string and be swallowed or inhaled, which could cause choking.
    • Even if the parts do not break off, amber necklaces, bracelets and anklets are small enough to be swallowed whole by a small child or baby.
    • The amber beads used in this type of jewellery can very easily shatter into smaller parts which can lead to choking.
    • You should never put any kind of cord, string or chain jewellery around a baby’s neck.
  • Suppliers and retailers are warned that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission considers these products inherently unsafe and will take appropriate action to remove these products from sale.

For more information, read our Child Safety - Amber Teething Necklaces, Bracelets and Anklets page.


Unlicensedhomeopathic teething tablets or gels:  Due to the risk of side effects, parents or carers of infants and young children should not use unlicensed homeopathic teething tablets or gels which may be available to buy online.  This advice follows notice of an ongoing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into a range of these products which concluded that they may cause serious side effects.  Find out more at www.hpra.ie


Furniture tip-over injuries and deaths - Children have suffered serious injuries and some have died after being crushed by free-standing furniture (bookcases, shelving units, drawers, televisions, etc) which topples onto them.  Take action now - secure all such items to the floor or to the wall.  Where this is not possible, remove the item altogether.


The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has produced a series of videos about child safety in and around parked and moving vehicles, both in driveways and out on housing estate roads – areas where traditionally children play.  The videos can be viewed on the RSA's YouTube channel.

To find out more about child safety on or near roads, please visit our road safety section.


Child safety in cars; a guide to driving safely with children on board - has been published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).  By following the advice in this book, you will help to protect your child's life and safety while travelling in a car.  The booklet may be downloaded from www.rsa.ie.


No smokingSmoking in cars and other vehicles - From the 1st of January 2016 it is an offence for anyone to smoke a tobacco product in a vehicle where a child (anyone under the age of 18 years) is present.

The offence will be enforced by the Gardaí and carries a fixed penalty of €100. Find out more here.


Hoverboards pose serious safety risk - The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission urges consumers to be on their guard when purchasing hoverboards. Retailers have already recalled certain brands. Consumers should only buy items which can be verified as safe.  For advice go to www.consumerhelp.ie.

Click here for all products recalled by the Commission.


The Chokeables - St John AmbulaceChoking - First Aid advice for parents
Find out how to save a choking baby - watch the The Chokeables from St John Ambulance - pen lid, marble, princess and jelly baby have had enough of being a hazard and they are here to show you the correct technique to save a choking baby.
Have a look at some other videos from St John Ambulance - Baby Choking First Aid for Parents and Choking Adults and Children - First Aid advice

Check out our choking section for further information.


Your mobile - would it kill you to put it away? A new ad from the Road Safety Authority shows the devastating effect that one split second spent texting while driving can have.

Drivers are 4 times more likely to crash while on the phone. Texting while driving makes you up to 23 times more likely to crash.View the video here.


EEvery breastfeed makes a differencevery breastfeed makes a difference - visit www.breastfeeding.ie to find out more.


Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes

  • These products contain nicotine which is highly toxic/poisonous when swallowed or inhaled by children.
  • The National Poisons Information Centre reminds us that children will copy the actions of adults, so we should not leave electronic cigarettes in the reach or sight of children.
  • If your child swallows some of the liquid in an electronic cigarette you must take them to the emergency department.
  • If you decide to stop smoking, remember that some of the stop smoking products such as gum, sprays, pastilles and patches contain nicotine and can cause harm to children. Always keep these products out of sight and reach of children.

 Mobile Phones and Driving

  • It is illegal to hold a mobile phone in your hand or support it with another part of your body when you're driving.
  • Using your mobile phone while driving makes you four times more likely to crash.
  • When you consider that driver distraction plays a role in 20-30% of all road collisions, phone use and driving is an issue that we all need to think differently about.
  • Find out more at www.rsa.ie

The Early Years Research Programme - Cardiff University has published research which shows that hot drinks are responsible for most scald injuries in infants and toddlers, whilst the most common cause of burn injuries are from children touching irons, hair straighteners and oven hobs. Two Irish hospitals were among the five included in the study. Click here to find out how to reduce the risk of scald & burn injuries.


Remember, car seats should be used for every journey, however, they are designed to keep babies safe while travelling, they are not to be used as a main sleeping place.

  • If travelling on long journeys take regular breaks, park in a safe place and place your baby on his back for a short while.
  • Once you have reached your destination, do not leave babies in sitting devices such as car seats, buggies etc for long periods of time.
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

Go to:

Image - Fidget spinner by Shalu Sharma from  Flickr  under Creative Commons License; 3D man crawling © Martin Konz; Tommy McAnairey from www.carbonmonoxide.ie; Irish Farm Safety Week from www.ifa.ie; Tide Pods Laundry Detergent Capsules by Au Kirk flickr.com;#2. Tea by wondersmith from Flickr  under Creative Commons License;Carbon monoxide logo courtesy of www.carbonmonoxide.ie; Exclamation Mark © Pkruger www.dreamstime.com; flickr.com - Tide Pods Laundry Detergent Capsules by Au Kirk; chewy foot by evilpeacock from Flickr under Creative Commons License; Remember, remember, remember from www.carbonmonoxide.ie