Below are some of the most common causes of accidental injuries in the home and things that parents can do to help avoid them.
Choking - Sadly, choking is a common cause of death amongst young children. Many common household objects can be identified as potential choking hazards - including coins, safety pins, marbles, jewellery, pen caps, magnets, and bottle caps. Such items should be kept safely out of young children's reach. In the early stages of weaning, most foods have the potential to cause choking incidents, but some foods are more likely to be responsible for choking than others. Such foods typically include grapes, nuts, and hard fruit. Hot dogs have also been reported as a leading cause of choking amongst children under five. Care should be taken when preparing young children's food to reduce the risk of choking; grapes should be cut in half, hot dogs cut length ways, and nuts avoided.
Suffocation - Plastic bags (including nappy sacks) pose the greatest threat of suffocation to children. Bags that are left within easy reach of young children are likely to be placed over the head. Nappy sacks are often used during changing routines and can be easily grabbed by little hands. Nappy sacks are not as noisy as other plastic bags when grasped, meaning carers may not immediately alerted to their child having grabbed one. They are also smaller than other bags, and therefore easy for children to inhale. Care should be taken to keep nappy bags out of children's reach at all times, and to dispose of them properly.
Strangulation - Blind cords have been identified as leading cause of strangulation. Most accidents involving blind cords occur in the bedroom and typically involve toddlers aged between 16 and 36 months; such children are generally mobile, but lack the muscle control required to free themselves from an entanglement. Children's windpipes are also less rigid than adults, and therefore more likely to be constricted. Ideally, only blinds without cords should be fitted in children's bedrooms, and cots, beds, chairs, and highchairs should be positioned away from windows. Cleats, cord tidies, or cord clips are also available to tie cords up out of children's reach.
Drowning - Drowning is a leading cause of accidental injury and death. Children can drown in as little as 2 centimetres of water. Accidents involving drowning typically occur in the bathtub, in the garden (particularly if a pond is present, or rainwater has the potential to collect), and in swimming pools. Adhering to safety signs when you visit any pools is a must. Paddling pools that are only slightly filled can also be dangerous for young children. Children should be supervised at all times when in or near water. Any ponds in the garden should be covered as many incidents occur when parents open doors and sneak into the garden without their parent's supervision.