The home is the safest place your child can ever be. However, every year, thousands of children are hurt or killed in home incidents as a result of their own actions. Even when parents feel confident that they have done a thorough job of childproofing, chances is they might miss something.
Surprising, when researchers in a UAB study asked the mothers to point out items that would be hazardous for their toddler, they made statements like, “My child isn’t curious about the toilet” or “my child knows not to play with matches” and flagged only 40 percent of the real risks.
But the truth is, household injuries are one of the top reasons children under age three visit the emergency units of hospitals each year due to falls, burns and scalds, poisoning, drowning, strangulation and suffocation. Many mothers are often very knowledgeable about accident risk at home, unaware of the scope of the child injury problem and do not routinely think about accident risk in their daily interactions with their children.
For instance, a study that assessed the knowledge of mothers of preschool children and practices relating to domestic accident prevention in pre-school children in Ibadan Southwest Local Government Area found that domestic accidents were perceived as not totally preventable (85.3%) and part of children’s development (50.8%).
About 30.3% of mothers place cooking utensils on the floor and 46.0% reported domestic accidents falls (47.0%), burns (23.5%) and ingestion of kerosene (8.4%) in their preschool children. Preventive practices employed included consistent monitoring of preschool children (58.5) and keeping drugs in secured boxes (55.5%).
No matter how vigilant a mother is when it comes to a child’s safety, accidents can occur. “Children particularly those between the ages of zero to four years are more prone to accidents by virtue of being inquisitive, playful and adventurous although they are yet to still developed to the level of ability to think and discern what is dangerous to avoid,” said Dr Taiwo Soyinka, a family physician at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan
According to her, “parent’s or care giver’s guidance to ensure that they childproof the home is important so that even when they turn their backs, they are sure that their children are safe.”
Dr Soyinka stated that although children are more accident prone in areas of the house like the bathroom and kitchen, mothers can still do a lot to keep them safe.
“It is important to cover all electrical cords, and clean up spills immediately they occur. Staircases and hallways should be well lit, put away toys and arrange furniture in an orderly form, and ensure that cleaning agents, medicines and other chemicals should be kept away from the reach of children to prevent the risk of poisoning.
“Storing household chemicals and products like kerosene in bottles that children could presume as water or soft drinks should be avoided, keep the caps closed on medicine bottles and put all medicines away immediately and take extra care with tablets in see-through packs or brightly coloured tablets – they are especially tempting to children.
“Children, particularly toddlers, are also better kept out of kitchen if possible when cooking; hot appliances, liquids and bath water are responsible for more than half of all burns and scalds. Parents can also put a gate on their kitchen to prevent children coming in unpermitted. Also, kitchen knives and other sharp utensils should be kept out of reach of children.”
Dr Soyinka warned against mothers trying to remove beads children insert into their nose or ear by themselves, saying doing this could cause more havoc but rather to rush children to the hospital.
Also, the idea of giving a child that mistakenly drank things like kerosene or other chemical substances palm oil, she said could be detrimental as this could lead to the child also having the chemical substances passed into the lungs.
Dr Folasade Fadare, a public health physician and Medical Director of General Hospital, Igbeju-Lekki, Lagos, also declared that a child should never be left at home alone, regardless of their age because they don’t know what is safe to do.
According to her, rather than leave a child alone unmanned, the mother should back such a baby so as to be able to keep an eye on him and ensure they don’t go out without knowing even if they want to multitask.
Dr Fadare discouraged mothers asking nannies or carriers of babies to multitask to prevent negligence and so leave the child in their care exposed to danger.
Every day, hazards in and around the home injure children. The good news is that the risk of injury can be reduced with a few simple house-proofing hacks. When it comes to keeping your children safe, they say prevention is better than cure.
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