Safety First, Last and Always

Do not play this video if you’re holding anything fragile – in fact, it would be a good idea if you sat down first. One thing you do need to know is that the baby survived with nothing more than a bump on his head!

This is real footage from a security camera in a suburban station in Melbourne, Australia. The mother follows a reflex action to adjust her trousers – with almost fatal results…

What’s extraordinary about this is that it’s just an everyday occurrence – a person adjusting their clothing. It could just as easily have been a mother buttoning a coat; a father fixing his scarf or folding his newspaper. And that’s the point – as a parent your perspective needs to change and everyday situations need to be accompanied by vigilance and an awareness of your, and therefore your child’s, environment. In short, you must always think “Safety First!”  The question is, how far do you take it?

The answer to that really depends on the parent (you can be pretty sure the mother in the video now has Safety First! burned into her brain!). It simply isn’t feasible to wrap a child in cotton wool or stick them in a tower. Nor is it possible to be 100% vigilant all of the time, however here are some tips and suggestions that are easy to implement and will help you think Safety First!  Sadly, every one of these has been experienced by real families…

Buggies, Prams and Strollers
Many parents use a combination of buggies, prams or strollers and having a cheap stroller in the back of the car or at a grandparent’s can be very useful. But the one thing that you cannot afford to forget is that they have wheels; they are designed to roll. Yes, that is obvious but it’s so obvious that people forget and accidents happen. If you think the accident in the video above was a million-to one chance, look at this one:

Thankfully, this was another lucky escape. However, both incidents could easily have been avoided by the use of a simple wrist strap, like this one. Then the pram would only have rolled centimetres away and the mother would have been aware of it in time to pull it back into her control.

Wrist straps are simple to use and ensure you have control of your stroller in car parks, stairs, busy streets, lifts, escalators and, of course, railway stations.  However, they are such a simple solution that they are easily overlooked, which is why they are now a legal requirement in Australia!

Blind Cords
The cords on your blinds are just an everyday part of your house and you probably never give them a second thought. However, if you look at them from a Safety First perspective, you can see the attraction they would have for a small child and the danger they represent.  That’s why at least 20 children will die in the US and UK this year due to strangulation by blind cords – and that’s not counting the near misses you never hear about.

A high percentage of these accidents take place in the child’s bedroom. However, a distressing aspect of these accidents is that it is very difficult for the child to cry for help, which means they can take place in any room of the house – even within earshot of a parent, as this harrowing story illustrates;

You can use special fittings like this one that will wind the cord tight and keep it out of a curious child’s reach. But your simplest solution might just be to replace them with cordless alternatives.

Electrical Cords

Electrical cords can be just as dangerous as blind cords. Make sure you position baby monitors out of reach of the cot or use a wireless model that your child cannot get tangled in – there are plenty available. The same applies to any audio equipment you might use, e.g. for playing nighttime lullabies, or table lamps and night lights – position them well out if reach.

Outside of the bedroom, it’s a good idea to bunch and tie excess cable to make it tauter and less easy to get tangled up in (with the added benefit that it makes it look neater). Cable ties like these are a cheap solution and are easy to fit.

Dishwashers and Sharp Objects
Occasionally, a chain e-mail surfaces and starts doing the rounds regarding a young boy being killed by falling onto an open dishwasher and landing on an upturned knife. Unlike a lot of chain e-mails, this one is true – and it is not the only example.

It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t happen very often, you just don’t want it to happen to your child. The simple answer is always put sharp objects into the dishwasher point down.

And if your friends and family think you’re being over-protective, point them to this link and ask them if it’s worth making a small change in behaviour to avoid an unusual tragedy.

TVs, Cupboards and Bookcases
Kids like to climb and to explore their surroundings, sometimes by pulling and tugging at things above their heads. Unfortunately, serious accidents happen if the things they are touching or climbing up are not secured.

It’s hard to imagine that a child could topple a bookcase or chest of drawers, but it’s just a matter of balance. A child climbing up the shelves on the front of a bookcase will alter the balance of the bookcase and it can topple – and it will always topple in the direction of the child. The same applies to TVs – big, heavy items that a child finds fascinating. Still find that hard to imagine? Have a look at the safety video below.

Following the safety suggestions in the video is easy:

1) Always position TVs on low level, wide-based furniture and secure them with a suitable fitting like this one

2) Fit suitable anchors (available here) to anything your child could be tempted to climb up on or explore, such as:

  1. Bookcases
  2. Chests of drawers
  3. Mirrors
  4. Garden items such as bird baths, particularly free-standing stone ones
  5. Cupboards, particularly food storage areas

This list is not exclusive. But if you try and see a room through your child’s eyes (what’s colourful, bright, unexplored) you should be able to identify the dangers. Or you could simply fit anchors throughout the home – they’re out of sight and can easily be removed later.

It would be easy to dismiss this type of “Safety First” thinking as paranoia and overkill, apart from one thing. There are hundreds of grieving parents who would give anything to have implemented at least one of these precautions.

If you only do one thing today, please use one of the buttons below to share this article with  a parent or carer who might not know all these dangers.  It’s not being over-dramatic to suggest that you might just be saving a small life.