With news of a Royal baby on the way we have turned our thoughts to ways to make a home more childproof.
However can we just point out here that RoSPA have actually recommended that the term Childproofing is misleading and in fact it can lead parents to thinking their environment is perfectly safe. This can lead to parents feeling they do not have to be as vigilant, leading to a lessening of supervision. This can be dangerous in a very young child’s life, when they are exploring with no understanding of personal safety.
So let us use the term child safe or child friendly.
It is still sensible to fit certain devices around the home if only to make it harder for children to hurt themselves, which may slow them down long enough for you to catch up with them to stop them drinking shampoo or throwing themselves downstairs.
Hopefully Kate and William will read this in time to buy their stairgates and door catches.
There are a number of different fittings for stair gates
Mumsnet provide a useful review of stairgates rating them on how easy they are to fit and use (essential info for DIY fans), and whether they are good value for money. It includes pictures so you will see how they might look in your home too. Click on the picture below to find the Mumsnet stairgate review.
Fit child safety catches on cupboards
Although you should store any dangerous chemicals, objects and medicines well out of children’s reach they can still get pretty messy and bruised by pulling out all of your cooking and baking ingredients out on themselves.
It is probably good for their development to be able to get in amongst the saucepans and bash a few ‘drums’ but where you want to restrict access it is a simple DIY job to fit safety catches, which are widely available and you can buy them in our online shop.
Fit fire guards
A fireguard will keep children away from open fires, stoves and gas sires. Pick a fireguard that conforms to British Safety Standard BS 8423: 2010 and make sure you secure it firmly to your wall to the wall. We have a whole project page on fixings on the site, if you are unsure what to do.
Fit smoke detectors/fire alarms
Fit at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your house, and make sure it complies with BS EN 14604 2005. Check it regularly to make sure it works, and replace batteries as soon as they need replacing. You should keep spares in stock for this purpose.
This is one of the most simple DIY tasks and yet so important. Read more about smoke detectors and how to fit them here.
Fit Carbon Monoxide detectors
Known as a ‘silent killer’, because it is a gas with no colour or smell, carbon monoxide (CO) is a serious threat to health!
Thermostatic mixer taps
Hot bath water causes the highest number of fatal and severe scalding injuries in young children. Around 500 children are admitted to hospital every year, with a further 2000 attending Accident and Emergency as a result of bath-water scalds.
When running a bath turn the cold water on first and always do that trick to test the water temperature with your elbow, before you let your child get into the bath or shower.
You can fit thermostatic mixer taps which regulate the temperature of the water as it comes out of the tap, to prevent running a bath full of really hot water. This makes the incidences of scalding much less likely. Although very young children have sensitive skin and you should still test the water before immersing them.
Fit window restrictors These restrict the width that windows will open, helping to ensure that children do not fall out of high level windows. They are typically made of steel, and restrict the opening angle to 305mm (12inches) for safety. The one shown below is suitable for both top and side-hung windows.
Use glazing which conforms to safety standards
Ensure that glass panels conform to British Safety standards BS 6206 (laminated, toughened or glass which passes the impact test). This should be a matter course if you replace broken windows, but you may consider replacing any panes that are at low level and that don’t conform, once you have a baby in the house.
They don’t stay immobile long and could crash through that French window on their toy truck. Glazing which complies carries a safety kitemark.
Make sure your electrical equipment is safe and working Residual current devices (RCDs) are standard in modern wiring systems, but your house may not be fitted with the best electrical safety devices. For more information about fuses and RCDs click here.
You cannot DIY this electrical work so find a good tradesman registered with the NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) and ask them to prepare a report. You can find Trustmark approved tradesmen through our site.
Circuit breakers in the garden Make sure that if you are working with electric items outside you install a circuit breaker. This will help to avoid electric shocks for you as well as your children.
These are cheap, they just plug in and if you need to know more click here where you will see a blog on garden safety subject and a link to a video about RCD external sockets.
So that’s the ten items we recomend you to get on with if you have a Royal, or any other baby on the way, but on the question of garden safety here is a taster of another safety blog to be posted next week. This time a bit more in depth advice if you have a garden pond and young children (if you will pardon the pun)
Keeping the garden safe for young familes
Cover, fill or fence-off ponds
Very young children can drown in less than 6cm (2in) of water. A grille or mesh can be used to cover a pond. Make sure it is fitted above the highest water point in order to prevent a water hazard. To be perfectly safe you should fill in your pond, making sure you remove the lining material to enable it to drain. You can also fence off a pond, and for more advice on pond safety come back next week.