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By Casey De Farria
Casey De Farria
08 May, 2020

The 3 most common injuries for kids at home

Many hospitals across Australia have reported a surge in the number of injured kids presenting to emergency departments during the current pandemic. It makes sense – doctors warned to expect a huge spike in kids’ injuries with children cooped up at home because of the coronavirus.

According to the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, the most common causes of injury to young children in the home are falls, poisoning, and burns. Here are some tips for preventing accidents in the home, in general;

Supervision – sometimes this is easier said than done, especially with multiple children, and especially if you are working from home + home-schooling + everything else that comes with being a parent! Don’t beat yourself up for making life as simple as possible so that you can supervise your kids – even if that means screen time and pre-prepared frozen meals.

Minimise the risk – Make sure your home is as safe as possible – look for hazards and implement changes to minimise any risks present in the home.

  • Make sure dangerous items are not accessible to little ones (medicines, poisons, lighters).
  • Install barriers to prevent little ones from accessing hazardous areas such as climbing hazards, heaters, electrical outlets, etc.
  • Use safety products, such as electrical outlet plugs, cabinet and drawer locks, window stops, window guards and furniture straps and brackets to prevent furniture tip-overs.
  • Arrange objects and furniture to minimise the risk of trip/fall hazards and make clear pathways for little ones to move about.

Check out Babyology’s ‘How to set up a safe nursery: Bub & Me Masterclass with Sarah Hunstead’ for an example of how to keep the nursery safe. For more on baby-proofing your entire house, here is a great article from Better Health Victoria.

When it comes to slips/falls, it is important to understand that these are a normal part of a child’s development (e.g when learning to walk, expect many stumbles as bub learns balance). The aim is to provide a safe environment where they can practice new skills without becoming seriously injured.

The most common falls usually occur from playing on playground equipment, slips and trips, and when using toys with wheels such as skates and skateboards. The seriousness of the injuries that these result in depend on the height a child has fallen from, what the child falls onto and how they fell i.e what they hit when they did.

Babies

  • Never place a baby on something they can fall from without supervision and a safety strap or a hand on them at all times.
  • Never carry your baby around in a bouncer or rocker chair, and never place these products on tables or raised surfaces when your baby is using them.
  • Avoid using baby walkers as they give a young child the mobility to place themselves in danger quickly and unexpectedly. 
  • Whenever your baby is in a pram or pusher, make sure their five-point safety harness is on. Whenever you are not holding onto the pram or pusher, make sure the brakes are on, and be sure not to overload the handles with bags or other items that could cause it to tip backward.

Toddlers

  • Eliminate tripping hazards like electrical cords and rugs.
  • Use safety products such as padding for sharp corners and safety gates on stairs.
  • When using high chairs, prams, and trolleys, use 5-point safety harnesses (and correctly – always read the instructions).
  • Make sure the cot is clear of toys etc that a toddler could use to climb out.
  • When your child is ready to move from a cot to a bed, place a mattress on the floor to soften a fall.
  • Note that a tired or sick child is more likely to fall and have accidents – quiet activities during these times are safer.

Children

  • If possible, avoid bunk beds until around 9 years of age (and definitely not before 6 years of age).
  • Lock windows in multi-story buildings so that children cannot climb out, or ensure that the windows can only open less than 100 mm.
  • Discourage children from walking or running with sharp/potentially dangerous objects such as glass, scissors etc, and teach them not to walk or run with anything in their mouths.
  • Shopping trolleys can be very dangerous for children – do not allow your child to stand in the trolley or ride on the sides.

For more on the above including treatment of head injuries and cuts/abrasions from falls, check out our upcoming Facebook LIVE on this topic.

Poisoning is most common in children aged five years and under, with those aged between one and three years at greatest risk. And no wonder – it is an expectation at this age that curious little ones like to put any and everything in their mouths.

It is surprising for many parents and caregivers exactly what poses a poisoning risk for little ones – any household product or medicine used incorrectly can be a poison. This includes medicines, cleaning products, cosmetics, any chemicals present in the home, and plants.

It is important to note that poisoning can occur if the substance is swallowed, inhaled, spilled on the skin, splashed into the eye, or injected. To prevent poisoning incidents;

  • Store medicines, cleaning products, and all chemicals in a cupboard that children cannot access (locked, out of reach and sight). Do not leave any of these out when you are finished with them.
  • Leave all chemicals, medicines, and cleaning products in their original containers with clear labels and ensure the lids are secured. Always follow the directions for use on the label. Never transfer or store these products in cups or any other type of bottles (soft drink bottles, for example).
  • Store poisons away from food.
  • Never refer to medicines as lollies.
  • Avoid taking medicines with children present – they love to copy!
  • Clean out medicine cupboards regularly, disposing of unwanted or expired medicines (you can do this at a pharmacy for safe disposal).
  • Keep your handbag and visitors handbags out of reach of children as these may contain medicines – avoid keeping easily accessible medicines in your bag.
  • Take extra care when measuring and giving medicines. This is extremely important – check out our blog on giving medicines to little ones for more.

Check out our recent Facebook LIVE on poisons for more on the above and the correct first aid for poison incidents. Please note in a medical emergency, always call for an ambulance. If you think your child has swallowed something poisonous, take the container and the child to the phone immediately and call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 (if you haven’t, save this number in your phone now!). 

Burns are most commonly experienced by curious toddlers who are mobile and adventurous – but are a real risk to children of all ages.

Burn injuries aren’t just a result of exposure to heat! They can also result from friction, chemical substances, and exposure to electricity.

The main cause of burns in young children is scalds caused by hot foods and drinks, steam and liquids. Even small burns can be serious depending on the location and how severe the burn is. To prevent burns incidents occurring;

  • Encourage children to stay away from the kitchen when you are cooking, and if they are in the kitchen, always ensure they are supervised.
  • Keep hot drinks and foods out of reach of little exploring hands.
  • Keep pot handles, kettle cords, etc away from bench edges.
  • Always test the water before baths and showers.
  • Fill the bath with cold water first, then add the hot water.
  • Install fixed firescreens or heater guards around open or glass-fronted fires and heaters.
  • Lighters and matches should always be stored out of reach of little ones.
  • Check your smoke alarm is in working order.

Knowing what to do if a burn incident occurs is vital in the outcome of the injury. Watch our recent Facebook LIVE on burns to learn more about the correct first aid treatment – as well as busting any myths you may have heard on burns first aid! We also have this Facebook post on electrical burns treatment that we put together after a concerned Mum contacted us with her daughter’s burns story.

Remember, your child’s safety is no accident. Book your class with us today or check out our eLearning course. Gain confidence, be empowered!

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