Child safety in and around the home

Family safety in and around the home

Child Safety is uppermost in the minds of most parents, and yet New Zealand experiences very high per capita rates of child injuries and deaths. We overview a range of child safety statistics, ideas and tips and helpful links to help parents to minimise the risks to their baby, toddler, and preschooler.

Facts & Statistics for NZ Parents

  • General: about 25,000 people each year require hospital treatment from an injury that happened in their own home.
  • General: 1 in 3 of all injuries in New Zealand happen in the home
  • General: 1 in 7 New Zealanders were injured in the home last year
  • Motor Vehicle – Deaths: an average of 16 children, aged 0 – 14 years, die each year as a passenger in a motor vehicle — the single largest cause of child injury deaths — with 38% being preschoolers.
  • Motor Vehicle – Injury: an average of 279 children, aged 0 – 14 years, are admitted to hospital each year with injuries sustained as a motor vehicle passenger, of which 25% are aged 0 – 4 years.
  • Child pedestrians: For children aged 5-9, motor vehicle traffic crashes where the child is a pedestrian are the leading cause of injuries resulting in death.
  • Falls account for more than half of all injury related hospital admissions for children aged 0 – 14 years.
  • Falls: children aged 0 – 4 years are most commonly seriously injured by falling from one level to another (eg. down stairs, off furniture, out of windows, off balconies, off playground equipment, and whilst being carried by someone)
  • Drowning is NZ’s 3rd highest cause of accidental death, with an average 109 total drownings in NZ each year — 8% are aged 0 – 4 years
  • Drowning: primary situations of drownings of children aged 0 – 4 years are: 42% “home pools” and 28% “domestic” (i.e. household bath, bucket)
  • Poisoning: of the average 366 hospitalizations per year due to unintentional poisoning of children under 15 years, 80% are aged 0 – 4 years. Children aged 1, 2, and 3 years are by far the most at risk.
  • Poisoning: drugs and medications represent 67% of the poisoning agents causing child hospitalisation.
  • Burns: Hot drinks are the #1 cause (and excessively hot water in baths, showers, sinks are the #2 cause) of burn injuries and hospitalisations among children under 5 years old.
  • Fire: an average of 5 children, aged under 10 years, die each year from fire or flame — caused primarily by unattended heaters, or a child playing with matches, candles or lighters.
  • Cutting Injuries: over 100 children, aged 0 – 4 years, are admitted to hospital overnight each year with cutting or puncture injuries — over 50% are foot injuries after standing on something sharp.
  • Missing Kids: Around 4,000 children (aged under 18 years) are reported missing to NZ Police each year.

Ideas & Tips

Check our list of ideas and tips to minimise the risks in a variety of different situations for your child.

At Home

Kitchen

  • Keep the floor dry
  • Afix toddler-proof locks to low drawers and cupboards, especially for cutlery
  • Keep electrical cords away from edge of bench
  • Turn pot handles toward the stove rear
  • Keep sharp knives, scissors and sharp utensils stored high or at back of bench in a knife block or magnetic strip.
  • Put safety plugs in all electrical sockets to prevent burns and electrocution.

Bathroom

  • Give bath toys only after child is safely seated in the bath
  • Use non-slip mats on bathroom (and shower) floor
  • Install child-resistant tap attachments; readily fitted to most standard taps.
  • Use non-slip mat in bath
  • Supervise young children in the bath at all times
  • Keep all medicines, pills, ointments and aromatherapy oils out of reach and out of sight of children

Lounge/Dining

  • Fit safety catches to low windows to prevent children climbing out.
  • Place electrical cords out of the way, preferably taped to skirting boards.
  • Place hot liquids in the centre of the table or up high out of the reach of children.
  • Secure a fire guard rail around the heater or fireplace.
  • Train young children to stay away from heaters and open fires
  • At all times supervise young children in a room where a heater or fire is on.
  • Observe the “1 metre heater” rule – the heater must be at least one metre away from all furniture and curtains; and children a minimum 1 metre from the heater.

Laundry

  • Keep all poisons and chemicals, such as laundry detergents, bleaches and cleaners, in their original containers; and keep them out of reach and out of sight of children.
  • Never keep chemicals in old drink containers – they may look tempting to children.
  • Put buckets or similar water vessels out of reach in a laundry tub or similarly high place. Ensure containers have well-fitting lids, as babies can drown in a very small amount of water.

Stairs

  • Remove rugs from top and bottom of stairs
  • Fix stair gates at both top and bottom of stairs
  • Afix a toddler friendly handrail to stairs

Outside the House

  • Paint the edges of steps with white paint mixed with sand to achieve grip
  • Ensure your deck has a railing minimum 1 metre high, with vertical rails (to prevent todllers climbing up them)
  • Keep the deck (and path) clear of mildew, moss, and excess water.
  • Trim hedges and overhanging trees to ensure clear vision along driveway for reversing of car.
  • Check that driveway is clear of children and toys before moving your vehicle.
  • Keep your pool fence locked at all times
  • Supervise your child in a pool at all times
  • Teach your toddler & preschooler to wear a broad brimmed hat (covering face, ears, and neck) during the hotter months (perhaps align with older sibling at school during terms 4 & 1).
  • Teach your pre-schooler to always wear a cycle helmet when riding a bike — thereby reducing risk of (upper & mid) facial injury by 65%, head injury by 85%, and brain injury by 88%.
  • Check that your child’s safety seat is compliant, correcty installed in the car, and always used — thereby reducing the risk of death by 70% for infants and 50% for toddlers.

General

  • Consider a “child locator” device
  • Check the hot water tap temperature — safer at 54oC (est. 10 seconds for serious burn to child ), rather than 60oC (est. 1 – 3 seconds for serious burn to child). — NB. Your water should be 55oC at the tap, but 60oC in your cylinder to stop harmful bacteria growing.
  • Teach your preschooler your street address and phone number
  • Safely dispose of empty medicine and poison containers
  • Ensure your child receives all Tetanus injections (at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months, 4 years, and 11 years) as part of the “DtaP-IPV” immunisations.
  • Put safety plugs in all electrical sockets to prevent burns and electrocution.
  • Get a First Aid kit, familiarise yourself with it, know what to do in different emergency situations.

Useful Websites

www.homesafety.co.nz

The “SAFETY begins at HOME” website of ACC includes many useful resources for the family.

www.safekids.org.nz

Safekids New Zealand is the national child injury prevention service, and a service of Starship Children’s Health; focussed upon keeping kids safe at home, at play and on the road; with the primary goal to reduce the incidence and severity of unintentional injuries to children in New Zealand aged 0 – 14 years.

www.childrestraints.co.nz

The NZ Child Restraints website provides extensive information on all types of Car Seats, including how to correctly use your child car seat.

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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