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Child safety at home: what precautions should be taken?

Seguridad infantil en el hogar: ¿qué precauciones se deben tomar?


Confinement forces us to stay in our homes, an environment we all tend to consider safe. But do we really live in an accident-free home? Children are naturally restless, hence the importance of preparing the home to avoid injuries. 

The "Guide for parents on the prevention of accidental child injuries", developed by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) and Fundación MAPFRE compiles the knowledge and experience of many professionals to help families in their daily lives. We focus on how to avoid dangers at home.

Did you know that most injuries happen in the kitchen? Children should be kept away from hot surfaces as much as possible: the glass-ceramic, the oven door, etc. Also be careful with knives, scissors and other sharp objects, keep them out of reach. Never cook with the child in your arms. Wet floors also cause many accidents, not only to children.

As for fire, neither matches nor lighters should be left within the reach of the little ones. Items with a child safety mechanism should be used. Nor should a lighter or a cigarette lighter be used for fun.

Also be careful with cutting or glass objects. We suggest children use unbreakable glasses and plates and, if a glass or plate is broken, be careful picking up the pieces, and don't let the child walk around barefooted.

To avoid choking, children under the age of 3 should not eat tough food that is difficult to chew. During meals they should not be allowed to run or play around the house with food in their mouths. 

As far as electrical devices are concerned, children should be prevented from touching plugs, and from playing with cables or extension cords. Unused plugs should be covered.

Special attention should be paid to the chemicals we use at home, such as cleaning products, which should always be kept out of the reach of children. As a general rule, you should never put a toxic product into a container that may be attractive to them, such as water or soda bottles. In the event of intoxication, the National Institute of Toxicology, available 24 hours, should be called immediately on 91 562 04 20.

In the bathroom. It is important to remember that children should never be left alone in the bathtub, and a non-slip item should be used on the floor and in the bathtub to prevent slipping. Make sure that the water in the bathroom is not too hot, taking particular care with electrical appliances, such as the hairdryer, which should be kept away from the water and should not be handled with wet hands.

Medication, including over-the-counter medicine, must be stored out of the child's reach. If undergoing a treatment, always follow the medical instructions and the leaflet for the correct dosage. 

As far as the child's room is concerned, we remind you that the safest position to sleep in is on your back and no soft objects such as cushions, large stuffed animals, foam protectors or duvets should be put in the crib. Under no circumstances should the crib be placed next to a curtain if it has a pulley, or next to shutter belts.Cribs must obviously comply with the European standard EN 716-1:2008 for furniture, cribs and folding cribs for domestic use for children, that is, the space between slats must be less than 6 cm and there must be no gap between the mattress and the bars. The position of the mattress must be lowered as the child grows to avoid falls. If the child is more than 90 cm tall, he/she should change to a bed. A child under 6 years old should not sleep on a top bunk. 

Be especially careful with doors. Place protective elements so that they do not close completely, trapping children's hands. 

Make sure their toys are duly approved and age-appropriate. The remote controls (TV, stereo, etc.) that we all have at home are not toys and can be dangerous, as they have batteries under a lid that is not usually screwed on.

What if we have stairs? In this case, protective barriers should be installed at the ends of each flight of stairs, and kept closed at all times. Please note that pressurized barriers are only suitable for placing at the foot of stairs. At the top they should be barriers that are bolted to the wall so the child cannot knock them down with his/her weight. They must also have vertical bars to prevent them from climbing up.

If you have a pool in the garden, it must be fenced in on all four sides, even if it is not mandatory. The fence gate must obviously remain closed if there is no adult to look after the child and prevent falls or drowning. As for portable pools, however small, they are also dangerous and hence they also require constant supervision.

Also be careful in car parks. Children should not be in car parks without adult supervision, as they tend to run around between cars or pick up objects they should not touch, which is dangerous.

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