Your essential safety guide
Is your little one safe at home, when he plays near water or when you travel by car? Read these tips and make sure you’ve ticked them on your safety checklist to keep your child safe from harm.
Accidents happen very quickly and can happen to anyone, no matter how vigilant you are. Although you can’t always watch your child every minute of the day, you can make sure his surroundings are safe.
- When you’re walking on the side of the road, hold your child’s hand and let him walk on the pavement.
- Children shouldn’t ride their bicycles or play with balls on the pavement; they could accidentally end up in the road and get seriously hurt.
- Always strap your child into his car seat, no matter how short the trip is.
- Never leave your child in the car alone. Your toddler could set it rolling off on its own while he’s playing, or the temperature could rise dangerously.
- Never put your child’s car seat on the front passenger seat. The safest place for your child is on the middle seat in the back or one of the other back seats.
- Make sure you buckle your child in his car seat properly, according to the instructions of the car seat.
- Before starting to drive, always check that the rear doors’ child locks are activated and the car windows are closed. If your car has electrical windows, don’t let your child play with them – if possible, keep them locked.
- Don’t allow your child to stick his arms or legs out of a moving vehicle
Safety in the home
- Ensure that all poisons, cleaning products, medicines, alcohol, cigarettes, matches, lighters, batteries, pesticides, plastic bags, mothballs, soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, essential oils and sharp objects such as needles, scissors and knives are either locked away in tamper-proof cabinets or stored in high cabinets that your little one can’t reach.
- If you have a dishwasher at home, only ever put detergent in just before you switch the dishwasher on. Toddlers love to clamber in and up everything, and your little one may get hold of the dishwasher pellet or powder. Remember to keep the dishwasher pellets or powder locked away in a cupboard or up high, out of your child’s reach.
- Make sure that knives and forks are pointing downwards when stacking the cutlery tray in the dishwasher, and remove any glasses or breakables from the dishwasher as soon as the cycle is complete. Make sure your dishwasher and washing machine are closed at all times so your little one can’t climb inside them.
- Any object that can fit inside a film canister is a possible choking hazard for children up to three years old. Make sure that no small objects are in reach of your little one’s exploring hands and mouth.
- If your hot water thermostat is set very high, turn it down to 50°C. This way, your little one won’t get burnt when he opens the tap without you supervising him. He’ll have to hold his hand under the warm water for about one to two minutes before he gets a serious burn.
- Lock, or get rid of, all empty fridges, trunks or other suffocation hazards. Make sure you tie knots in all your plastic bags or throw them away if you don’t want to keep them.
- Buy safety locks for all drawers and cupboards that contain any sharp, heavy and pointy objects.
- Ensure that all television sets and free-standing cupboards are securely anchored to the floor or wall.
- Although kids love to help Mommy cook, there are things they shouldn’t be allowed to do in the kitchen – for their own safety and your sanity. These include stirring hot things, putting things into or taking things out of the oven, operating any electrical appliance or tasting any foods without permission from you.
- When using a saucepan, frying pan or pot on the stove, always turn the handles away from the front of the stove so little hands can’t grab or knock the warm contents down, and possibly over themselves.
- Make sure that the kettle, toaster or any other electrical appliance’s cord isn’t dangling from the kitchen counter or any other surface. Your child is very inquisitive and might pull on the “string” to see what it is, and burn himself with a warm toaster, boiling hot water from the kettle or a hot iron.
- Don’t let your little one near wet and slippery floors. When washing floors, don’t leave your child unattended with a bucket of water. A child can drown in only a few centimetres of water.
- Don’t leave irons and ironing boards unattended; your little one might bump against the ironing board, and can get hurt if it, or the iron, falls on top of him.
- As soon as your child is mobile, he’ll want to crawl around and explore; cover all sharp corners and countertops with plastic corner guards to prevent your little adventurer from getting nasty bumps on his head and body.
- Store all medicines in a lockable cupboard and ensure you pack all medication away immediately after you’ve used it.
- If you have glass shower doors at home, replace them with safety glass or get safety film applied to them. If the door breaks, the glass will stick to the film and not fall on your child. Windows and sliding doors should also be fitted with safety glass. Mark sliding doors with stickers or tape to prevent both you and your little one from walking or running into them.
- Place rubber mats in the bath and shower, and bath mats or towels on the bathroom floor to prevent your child from slipping.
- Take the key out of the bathroom door and put it away; your little one might think it’s fun to lock himself in the bathroom.
- No electrical appliances or extension cords should be installed or used in the bathroom, unless it’s an approved heater or heated towel rail that’s been installed by a qualified electrician.
- Ensure that your furniture is stable and won’t topple over once your child starts pulling himself up to trot around.
- All tables within reach of your child’s busy hands should be cleared of small objects and hazardous substances like jewellery, coins, tobacco, medicines, safety pins, paper clips, buttons, coins and perfume.
- Fit safety gates to the top and bottom ends of the staircase if you have a double-storey house; keep the stairs well lit and make sure your child doesn’t play with his scooter or walking ring around the stairs.
- Cover all electrical outlets with caps or shields so your little one can’t stick his fingers or toys in the plug points.
- Make sure that all electrical cords are out of your little one’s sight; he’ll be less tempted to tug, pull and chew on them.
- Keep dresser drawers closed at all times. Your little one might climb up the drawers and topple the dresser over in the process.
- Keep houseplants, especially poisonous ones, out of your child’s reach, and make sure he can’t pull the pots over and injure himself.
- Check that banisters and railings by staircases and balconies are secure, and that the distance between each upright post is less than 13cm, so your little one won’t slip through or get stuck between them.
- Try not to use long tablecloths around your toddler. He may get injured if he pulls on it and plates or dishes fall on top of him.
- Cover all glass-topped tables with a heavy table pad, or keep it in storage until your toddler is a little bit older.
- Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach. They could accidentally light the curtains, or a stack of magazines or newspapers, and the entire house can burn down.
- Kids love playing outside, but before you let your little one run wild in the garden, check that all garden tools, electrical equipment, weed killer and fertiliser is safely locked away. Teach your child not to climb up the garden fence or gate, as these structures can come loose and fall on your child.
- Always keep an eye on your child when he’s playing outside. Whether he’s having fun on the trampoline or clambering up and down the jungle gym, accidents happen quickly.
- Children should be forbidden to play anywhere near cars or the driveway. Before you get into your car, make sure you know where your children are. Look underneath and behind your car before you reverse.
- At the play park, teach your child not to stand on a swing or allow other children with him on the swing. Playground equipment is designed to carry a certain weight and slides can break or swings can snap when the weight they’re carrying is too heavy, leading to injuries
- Fence off all swimming pools, splash pools, ponds and water features, and make sure these fences have lockable gates. You should also cover them with safety nets, especially if it isn’t possible to fence them off.
- Never leave your child alone in the bath or bathroom, not even for a couple of seconds. If your child is already in the bath and you need to answer the phone or fetch something from another room, take him with you. Always empty the bath after you’ve finished bathing, and ask other family members to do the same.
- Spa baths and Jacuzzis aren’t safe for children because they can’t support themselves in the swirling water. Make sure these are covered and locked.
- Never allow your child to play at a friend’s house if the pool isn’t fenced in, even if there will be someone supervising them.
- Your child shouldn’t be allowed to swim alone. It doesn’t matter how old he is, or if he’s wearing armbands or a flotation tube, he should still be supervised.
- When swimming in the ocean, hold your child’s hand at all times and make sure that his feet can always touch the ocean floor.
- Don’t let your little one float on a lilo or board in the sea; a current can drag him out to sea.
- Teach your child to jump into water feet first and not to dive into water. He may not realise that the swimming pool is too shallow to dive into, which could result in serious injuries.
- Teach your children not to jump into the water close to where other children are swimming, or to push other children around in the water.
- Make a rule that your children aren’t allowed to run in the pool area. Running can cause them to slip, hit their heads and drown.
- Sign your child up for swimming lessons, but don’t assume that he’ll be safe in the water once he’s been to a few lessons. Always supervise your children when they’re in or near the water.