Looking after a child should be an intensely rewarding and joyful experience. Parents will often be cautious to leave them for the first few times, however, with some prior planning and a few simple alterations throughout your home, you can better set yourself up for safe babysitting. Whether you’re a new Aunt, Grandmother or a friend babysitting as a favour.
Start with the basics
Electrical sockets, fires and stairs are obvious sources of danger for children of a young age. Wandering fingers can easily find their way into an electrical socket, leading to the risk of electrocution. Many shops sell socket covers or plug-in plastic barriers, but take care that your child can’t remove them and thus create an additional swallowing hazard. Similarly, keep your child away from fireplaces – whether it’s an open fire or a wall mounted electrical device, heat is a real hazard.
Safety gates are an essential purchase: taking a tumble even a short distance downstairs can cause serious injury or even death, and so placing gates at the foot and top of a staircase can help reduce risk. Gates serve other functions too – they can keep a child out of a storage room or prevent them leaving their bedroom without supervision.
Watch what they eat / drink
Many accidents and incidents revolve around children getting hold of chemicals or cleaning fluids. You can buy locks and safety devices to prevent a child from opening a cupboard or drawer, but a more sensible approach is simply to remove all chemicals, bleaches and similar products entirely from view – use a wall cupboard where the chemicals are out of reach, or keep them in a locked drawer and ensure the key isn’t reachable to be extra sure. A baby or toddler might lack the motor skills to insert the key, but if it is already in the lock and at an accessible level, they may still be able to turn and open the box.
However it isn’t only cleaning products that pose a risk. Access to food can be highly dangerous – perhaps your child has a nut allergy, or cannot tolerate particular foods: do not make your food accessible! Again, store food well away from prying fingers.
Furniture and heavy objects
Many accidents are caused by children climbing onto furniture and falling, or pulling a heavy object down on top of them. Glass fronted cabinets and doors are hazardous in the extreme; it is advisable to place a clear sticker on the front to avoid a child walking into it and risking a serious cut.
Furniture that can easily be pulled over, such as a lamp or heavy picture frame, should be kept out of reach, and it is a good idea to make sure that any electrical cords are stored safely behind furniture or appliances to avoid a child becoming entangled or playing with the cord.
Mind your windows and doors
A locked door not only prevents an unwanted intrusion, it keeps you and your family safe inside the house – there are many more dangers outside the house and it is wise to stay safe. Slamming doors can cause a lot of damage so why not buy a doorstop or two? Windows too should be closed or vented at all times where possible; children die each year falling from windows. Avoid simply placing a window screen as this will not be strong enough to prevent a child from falling through.
Above all, the best way to keep your child safe is to employ some common sense. Check your house regularly for hazards, such as coins on a table, a reachable curtain cord, or an unprotected socket. Sharp corners at head height should be cushioned if possible. Above all, try not to leave your child unattended around the house – there’s no better way to keep a child safe than with your own eyes and those of others.
VHL offer home improvement services, including fitting child stair gates. Working across London, we pride ourselves on affordable rates & hard-working tradesmen. No job is too big or small.