A toddler in Plymouth has died after being caught in a window blind, his mother found him hanging from his bedroom blind one evening and tragically he was dead. The 21 month old child had been left just for a few minutes so his mother could prepare him some milk before bed, however, in that short time, he had managed to wind the cord round his neck. He managed to reach the blind by climbing on a chest of drawers.
The Royal Society For The Prevention of Accidents (RSPOA) has stated that since 1999 at least fifteen toddlers have been strangled by blind and curtain cords - which is a staggering and dreadful figure. They have said that the cords are a real hazard that people just don't think about. Toddlers of about 2 years are at most risk because their heads are big and get caught, they are adventurous and want to climb and explore, they don't understand the dangers and they are more susceptible to suffocation because their windpipes have not fully developed.
There are new British Standards which will help supplies sell blinds that are safe for consumers to use, however there are many thousands of homes which will contain blind and curtains that do not comply with the standards.
Here are a few simple measures to make your existing blinds as safe as possible:
- Keep all looped cords out of reach (including if you stand on a chest or bed to reach them!)
- Keep cots and beds away from blinds
- Use a cleat or hook to wind up any loose cord
- Secure the cord to the wall
- Use a chain breaker which will break if pressure is applied.
When buying new blinds try and opt for blinds with hidden cords, cords that don't form a loop, or those operated by wand that you wind or with gears.
There has been so much press over the years about children who are let down by adults, 'Baby P' and little Shannon Matthews for example - both these children were so sadly ignored by those who should have been protecting them.
Many local authorities do so much good work with children, especially those who are the most vulnerable and in need. However, we never hear about these good, kind people who make such a difference to so many children's lives. In the most part, those in authority aim to keep children together with their families, siblings and parents. However, sometimes this is not possible and those caught up in neglect or in danger are removed from the threat of harm.
All sorts of people get involved in these cases. The police, social workers, health visitors, doctors and eventually the courts do what they have to do to support the children and do the best for them. Some go into care. Some live with foster families who provide them with the safety and security they need and cherish. The foster carers go some way to repairing the damage that has been done and try to provide the children with a normal, happy environment in which to live.
There is always a great need to families to offer foster care. It's not like providing a hotel room or just meals and a fresh bed to sleep in. Carers need to try and maintain any routine the children have: school clubs, visits to friends, school run, and contact with the original families. They also need to be able to do the school run to get the children to their original school and maintain links with health professionals, doctor's appointments etc. Foster children become an integral part of your own family.
You don't need a huge house and rambling ground to offer foster care. You don't need to be a fine chef or a pre-school teacher. You simply need to offer a shelter, a home and a loving, caring environment for the most vulnerable little people in our communities. You will get all the training you need and plenty of advise and support.
If you think you can manage this, then it's worth contacting your local authority. They will be delighted to hear from you and you may find it becomes the best and most rewarding job you have ever done!
How do you teach a child or toddler about the very real danger of fire in the home without worrying them and making them too scared to get up each morning? We hear dreadful stories of children being caught in fires, and yet with some simple drills we could protect against the worst. Here are some simple tips you can do with your child which could, ultimately save their lives! Of course, firstly and most importantly your home should be fully protected against fire and have all the equipment required to deal with a fire: extinguishers, fire blankets, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors etc.
- Explain that you are going to talk about what to do if you ever have a fire at home. Explain that offices, schools, nurseries all have fire drills to practice what they all should do if a fire happens. Make it seem normal (and, after all, it is!) that people are drilled in how to behave in a fire.
- Draw a plan of your house and look at it with your child. Make an escape plan - how you can get out of the house if it was burning?
- Go into each room and find 2 escape routes. Ask how they would get out if one route was blocked.
- Sleep with bedroom doors closed and explain this is to contain a fire should one happen. It is safer, but make sure you can still hear them if they call in the night. Use a monitor if you are nervous of not hearing them.
- Explain that if there was ever a fire, they should not open the door if they see flames or smoke coming from under the door. If they see nothing but hear the alarm, they should open the door slightly, and feel the door handle with the back of their hand. If the handle was hot they should shut the door and keep it shut and leave by another door if there is one.
- Explain how to feel the door from bottom to higher up, to see if the door is hot. If it is hot, it needs to be shut and kept shut and they should leave by the other door if there is one.
- Checking for smoke is another valuable thing to note. Smoke hurts more people than flames. You breathe less smoke if you are low to the ground as smoke naturally rises. So, if there is smoke they should stay low and crawl out to the escape route.
- Show children how to block the cracks around the door with sheets or blankets.
- Parents should concentrate on evacuating the family rather than calling the emergency services - someone else can call them.
- NEVER go back inside to get pets, belongings, or anything at all! Choose a place where all the family can reconvene outside if there ever was a fire. Make sure you all know where this is.
- If clothing catches fire, drop to the ground and roll over and over. This is an easy one to practice with children.
For a very comprehensive blog on fire prevention entitled "20 Free Online Tools To Help Your Family Develop A Fire Safety Plan" go to http://www.firesciencedegree.com/20-free-online-tools-to-help-your-family-develop-a-fire-safety-plan/.
We are all so conscious of dangers when we take children out: cars on the road, tripping on pavements, falling from a swing. However there are 400 children admitted to hospital every WEEK with injuries following accidents in the home. This is a staggering number - especially when this is just those under the age of five!
What we have to remember is that children and toddlers and babies are constantly growing and experimenting and exploring. The way they learn is to watch and copy us. So, we need only take a look through their eyes to see what they might see and then we'll realise how accidents - that are totally avoidable - can happen. And, we'll see how easy it is to prevent those accidents taking place.
Tablets and pills - many toddlers can take off the child-resistant caps on bottles of pills. The child-resistant caps make it more difficult to open, but are not impenetrable for a child. A simple adult painkiller could poison a child. They see you take a few, and it helps your headache. If they get hold of them, they take a few and it could be disastrous. Toddlers may think they are sweets, that they taste nice, that Daddy has them so why shouldn't I, that they make them grow strong. So, keep bottles of pills well out of reach.
Lighters and matches - children can ignite lighters by accident and can cause a match to inflame by just playing with them They don't realise the danger they could cause. There are 6,000 house fires every year caused by children under ten! When they look at a match or lighter, children see the flash of light, the spark, it's like magic. Keep the matches and lighters out of reach.
Stairs - About 800 under fives are taken to hospital each WEEK having fallen down stairs. They develop the climbing skills need to get up stairs very quickly... almost without you noticing they could suddenly be able to get up a few steps. It can be dreadfully dangerous if they fall down. Kids think its fun to go up, it's a challenge and everyone else does it so why shouldn't I? Well, if they do they might fall and hurt themselves, get a stair gate and remember to use it!
Knives and utensils in the kitchen - It's so easy to forget that little ones can one day reach kitchen surfaces. Make sure all knives, and heavy utensils are well back just in case they reach up and something comes crashing down.
Hot Drinks - tea and coffee can scald and burn a baby's skin. Don't put hot drinks on low tables or on unstable surfaces. Tea and coffee is made with boiling water and stays hot for a long time. If they they go to try your tea without you seeing, and pour it over themselves by accident - it could scar your child for life!
It's not all gloom and doom! But being very aware of potential dangers is vital in order for you and your child to have a relaxed home! If you make just a few changes to the way you do things and if you just keep one step ahead if you can... you'll be okay!
A few final tips:
- Fit a smoke alarm and TEST it frequently.
- Keep all medicines, cleaning fluids in a locked cupboard out of a child's reach.
- Fit stair gates and safety guards round fires.
- Keep hot drinks on tables that are out of reach. Don't drink hot tea with your baby in your arms.
- Keep saucepan handles, electric flexes etc well out of reach.
We all know to keep bleaches and household cleaners in a locked, child-proof cupboard, but accidental child poisonings rose by some 11% last year according to the Child Accident Prevention Trust. How can this be?
It seems that detergent capsules have become more and more popular in homes: less packaging means they are environmentally more friendly and more economical to produce, less water content means they are cheaper to transport and less wasteful, so supermarkets and families have opted to buy them over the regular hefty boxes of detergent.
However, what we don't possibly realise is that the liquid inside the gel capsules is even more concentrated and therefore even MORE harmful for young children. They are soft to touch, often a nice, bright colour, easy for little hands to hold... and more worryingly just the right size for a little mouth to nibble!
The storage containers they come in are often very easy to open too. Last year, two hundred inquiries logged at the Child Accident Prevention Trust, were about these detergent capsules.
They are a new range of products that need to be treated with utmost caution and extreme care if we are to reduce the number of potentially dangerous accidents in the home.
Here's a reminder about storing household products:
- All household chemicals and cleaning products should be out of sight and in cupboards with child-proof locks.
- All harmful substances should be out of reach (not just under the sink or behind the toilet!)
- Move all cleaning products away from reach if you are interrupted by the phone or a visitor during your cleaning.
- Choose household cleaning products with child-resistant caps - but remember some children are ultra dextrous and can still open them!
- Opt for detergents/cleaners with a bittering agent which gives them a horrible taste and helps stop young children from swallowing them.
- Remember that all cigarettes, alcohol, perfume, aromatherapy oils and mouthwash can be poisonous to children.