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I’m a doctor – accidents can happen, but here are my top safety do’s and don’ts to keep your kids safe at home and outdoors

EVERY parent knows that children trip and fall sometimes.
But what if they have more serious accidents and need to go to hospital?

According to statistics from Children’s Health Ireland, after infancy the leading cause of death among children in Ireland is accidents and injuries.

Accidents and injuries cause one in five deaths in children aged one to 14 yearsSource: Getty Images – Getty
Dr. Michael Barrett shares his top tips for keeping children safe at home and outdoors

Worryingly, accidents and injuries cause one in five deaths in children aged 1 to 14 and one in two deaths in young people aged 15 to 18.

Consultant in pediatric emergency medicine, Dr Michael Barrett, said: “Meetings with the family of a child who has suffered a serious or critical injury are unfortunately an everyday occurrence for emergency physicians.

“About 30-40 percent of our visits are for injuries, poisonings, accidents and life-threatening injuries. As we move from spring to summer, this number increases and every day we see opportunities to better keep babies, children and teenagers safe, at home and outdoors.

“It is important that we work together to prevent injuries and deaths. Sensible supervision and taking steps to create a safe environment, while increasing awareness of potential dangers, can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and protect the welfare of children and young people.

Here, Dr. Barrett gives us his top tips for staying safe indoors and outdoors.

AT HOME

DOWN:

TEACH your children about safety and lead by example.

Get down to your child’s level and look at the rooms in your home. Ask yourself if something poses a potential risk to your child. Place corners on table edges and other sharp edges to prevent painful bumps and scratches.

Keep medicines and chemicals out of the reach of children.

IN 2022, 6,177 inquiries to the Irish Poisons Information Center concerned children aged 14 or under who had accidentally swallowed medicines.

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All products should be stored in their original packaging. Try to use containers with safety caps, but remember that they are child-resistant, not child-proof.

Childproof your stairs.

FALLS down stairs is one of the most common causes of falls in children. To prevent this, protective railings should be installed at the top and bottom of the stairs. As your child gets older, show him how to climb stairs slowly and safely.

Lock the windows.

USE window stops that do not require tools to open (in case of fire).

NO:

LEAVE your children home alone.

Make sure an adult is watching small children at all times. Children do not yet understand the danger, they are unpredictable and cannot take care of their own safety.

Leave personal items where children can reach them.

For example, handbags contain items such as medicines, cosmetics and car keys.

Let your young children have access to the lockers.

Children love to explore, but cabinets are full of choking hazards, sharp objects and poisons. Cabinet locks help you avoid this and prevent your fingers from getting trapped or even cut off. Keep household cleaning products and laundry products in a cupboard where your child cannot see or reach them.

Have an unsecured fire in your home.

A fire guard is usually the safest and most secure solution to keeping children safe around fire, especially crawling and toddlers.

OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE

DOWN:

SUPERVISE your children on the playground.

Always monitor your child when he or she is playing on the playground. Also carefully check handrails, ladders and slides.

Make sure all gates are closed and children cannot climb fences or walls.

When playing outside, make sure there is no access to a road, path or farm.

Make sure your child uses age-appropriate toys and equipment.
For example, it is considered unsafe for children under 6 years of age to use a trampoline. More than one person on the trampoline can cause accidents and injuries. Electric scooter users must be at least 16 years old.

Dress for outdoor fun, appropriate to the weather, and be smart.
Dress your children in age and size appropriate clothes. Check for loose tags/strings that could get caught. Wear appropriate sunscreen and protective clothing.

NO:

LET your child cross the street independently until he or she is at least 12 years old.
Research shows that children are unable to safely interact with road traffic until they are 12 years old. Therefore, children under 12 years of age need the help of an adult to walk and cross the street safely.

Don’t underestimate the dangers of water.

BETWEEN 2017–2021, there were 18 water-related deaths of children under 18 years of age. It is important to supervise children in the water at all times, both indoors and outdoors.

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Let your child be near lawn mowers.

This includes riding mowers, trimmers and hedge trimmers.

Let the children play near the grill

DO NOT let them play near the grill or anything that contains or collects water.