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Make the Right Call: Top tips for keeping youngsters safe around the home as part of Child Safety Week

Baby playing with electrical extension and outlet

Baby playing with electrical extension and outlet

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How child-friendly is your house? What safety issues should you be aware of?

During Child Safety Week (June 23-29), Dr Mashbileg Maidrag, consultant in public health with Suffolk’s Public Health team, highlights a few common household dangers to be aware of, and offers simple tips for keeping young people safe.

For one week each year, the focus is on keeping children safe. The reality is that this is often at the forefront of parents’ minds at any time of year. The good news is that, statistically, our children are in safe hands.

Falls are among the most common causes of head injuries and broken bones, accounting for almost one third of admissions to A&E.

A small number of incidents are caused by accidental poisoning among nought to five year olds. Numbers are low when it comes to serious harm as a result of these incidents, which is reassuring, but there are still some common household products that can put children at risk if simple precautions are not taken.

Together with Suffolk’s trading standards, Public Health would like to raise awareness on dangers of four specific areas:

•Liquitabs used in washing machines– colourful and could be mistaken for sweets, they can cause significant harm if swallowed

• Small button cell batteries found in children’s books, toys and games – as above, toxic when swallowed

• Transparent nappy sacks, which are extremely thin and don’t have air holes punched in to them, can pose a risk of suffocation

• Hanging blind cords, which pose a strangulation risk

All of these items have led to a small – and I must emphasise this point – number of incidents across the UK. The key is to be aware that these items can cause problems and to keep them out of children’s reach.

If in doubt, move these items away from children – put yourself in a child’s shoes (think of the lower height involved) and ask whether you would be able to get hold of these items?

If at any point you are concerned about your child’s health after contact with these, or any other household items, call 999 and seek medical help immediately.

Perhaps of even greater concern, certainly to babies and very small children, is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is known as ‘cot death’. In the UK, at least 300 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year due to SIDS. Fortunately such tragic deaths are rare (about 1.2 deaths per thousand babies), but a number of actions can be taken by parents and people looking after babies to reduce the risk.

They include:

• Ensuring that babies sleep on their back

• Not exposing a baby to smoking, either during pregnancy or through second hand passive smoking

• Making sure you are mindful of the temperature in the child’s bedroom, using light bedding or a lightweight sleeping bag when warm, and increasing this as necessary to prevent the baby getting cold during the winter months

• Keeping the baby’s head uncovered when sleeping

•A baby should sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as their mother/parent for the first six months

Breastfeeding is the natural and best way to feed babies and it increases their resistance to infection. Ultimately, the main thing to remember is that there are simple, common sense measures that can be taken which can put parents at their ease for Child Safety Week, and the other 51 weeks in the year.

For more information visit www.childsafetyweek.org.uk or the Child Accident Prevention Trust at www.capt.org.uk

For information about SIDS, visit www.nhs.uk or www.sidsandkids.org

Visit Suffolk Trading Standards’ blog on Child Safety Week 2014.

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