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Common child hazards at home

As they grow, explore and discover the world around them, children may fall into danger. Be on the lookout for the following hazards and keep your little one safe, writes Grace Wachira

1. Poisoning

Certain substances can be toxic if a child swallows, inhales, or absorbs them through the skin. Poisoning maybe as a result of overdose on medication, ingestion or inhalation of household substances, such as bleach, laundry detergent, pesticides or insecticides among others. Store medicine and household products out of reach of children.

2. Burns and scalds

Burns and scalds are a major cause of serious injury in children. Children under five years are most at risk due to their increased mobility and natural curiosity.

A child’s sensitive skin burns far more easily than adult skin. Any hot substances such as drinks, food, cooking oil, hot objects such as pan can scald a child.

Children are most at risk when you are: in a hurry, under a lot of pressure, busy or have too many things going on at the same time, entertaining, not feeling well, distracted or even tired.

Always supervise your children in the kitchen. Put a baby down when drinking or eating something hot. Teach your child not to play with matches or lighters, and keep matches and lighters out of your child’s reach.

3. Falls

It’s not possible or even a good idea to protect your child from all the bumps, bruises, scrapes and falls of childhood. These are part of growing up for an active, curious child.

But injuries due to falls are one of the most common household hazards. Keep watch when your children are in situations where they’re most likely to get into difficulties.

4. Shock

Young children experience electric shock most often when they bite into electrical cords or poke metal objects such as forks or knives into unprotected outlets or appliances.

These injuries can also take place when electric toys, appliances, or tools are used incorrectly or when electric current makes contact with water in which a child is sitting or standing. Cover all outlets and supervise whenever children are in an area with potential electrical hazards.

5. Suffocation

This is a major hazard for infants and children. Always place an infant on his or her back to sleep. This is the safest position for a baby to sleep in to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Never place an infant face-down on soft surfaces such as a waterbed, comforter, rug, or mattress cover. Keep all plastic bags out of the reach of children

6. Choking

Babies and young children are at high risk of choking because: they have less practice controlling food in their mouths; they do not have molar teeth to grind foods into a smooth paste; they have small airways; and they explore the world by putting small objects into their mouths. Choking can be on anything from saliva, food, to objects such as beads.

Always supervise young babies and children when they are eating and playing. Offer food in small amounts to prevent children from putting too much food in their mouths.

Introduce foods in textures that are safe for babies and young children. Check the child’s play area often for choking hazards and quickly remove them.

7. Drowning

Even small amounts of water left carelessly in buckets or basins after doing the laundry or bath time may cause drowning. Most infant drowning occur in bathtubs and buckets.

Toddlers between one and four years most commonly drown in swimming pools, ponds and rivers. Never leave children alone or in the care of another child, while in or near bathtubs, pools, spas, or wading pools, or near irrigation ditches or other open bodies of water.

8. Cuts

It’s common for children to get scrapes and cuts on the playground, but they can be protected from sharp and dangerous items around and outside the home. Properly store all sharp tools and lock them up if you have small children in the home. Baby proof sharp corners of furnitures by covering edges.

9. Getting stuck in rails

Adventurous children are likely to get stuck in rails. As such, adults should always be in the vicinity when children are playing to prevent the simple adventure from becoming fatal.

10. Strangulation

As difficult as it might seem for children to strangle themselves, this is often an overlooked danger. But it can happen in the blink of an eye. Teach children to never wrap anything around their neck.

This goes for ropes, sheets, blankets, electrical cords. If you have toddlers, make sure that all cords are secured to the wall and not dangling.

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