By WANGECI KANYEKI
From the time babies begin to crawl, they become adventurous and will explore every nook and cranny. Try squatting to their eye level to view the house from their perspective and you will be amazed at the many opportunities there are for inquisitive fingers to poke and probe.
It is no wonder that each year so many injuries are caused by hazards around the home. The best way to avoid these injuries is to keep close supervision on the children and to install safety measures and devices.
Below are some of the common causes of injuries and how you can prevent them.
Falling from staircase: There will be many slips and falls before children master the art of climbing stairs. During this time, it is better to install safety gates at the head and foot of the staircase. These should be securely attached to the wall rather than the staircase so that children do not dislodge them easily. However, they need to be easily lockable for adults.
Gaps between the grills should be close enough so that a child’s head cannot fit or be lodged into the space. Safety gates can also be put in other hazardous areas where you would not want the child to access such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Electrocution: Children can easily insert objects into power sockets that can cause electrocution. To prevent this, use outlet covers and plates, which can be purchased from hardware shops or baby care shops. Ensure plates are not easily removable by the child and that they are big enough not to be swallowed. In the absence of outlet covers, you can simply move a bulky piece of furniture such as a three-sitter sofa to cover the socket.
Poisoning: Keep medicines and chemicals way out of children’s reach. Bottles of clear vinegar, which could be confused for a water bottle should be labelled and kept on a high shelf.
Use child safety latches and locks to keep medicine cabinets and laundry cupboards that may have bleaches and detergents locked. These safety latches can also be used on refrigerators and oven doors, while appliance latches will lock TVs, DVDs and stereos.
Banging doors: Little fingers holding onto a doorframe often fall victim to a slamming door. There are door protectors that are placed at the edge of the door, which leave a small gap at the edge of the door to prevent the door slamming on a child’s hand. Alternatively, one can make a home-made door protector by stuffing an old sock then tying the ends of sock to the door handle on either side.
Corner and edge bumpers: Table and cabinet edges can be a constant cause of banging a child’s head or hurting a falling child. Cover the corners and edges with bumpers to cushion the child from getting hurt from falls against sharp furniture edges. Anchor tall furniture such as towering wall units to prevent them from tipping over a child.
Other areas that require safety measures are water bodies such as swimming pools, ponds, boreholes and wells, which must be covered to prevent drowning.
Hot water taps and showers should be regulated while cords of boiling kettles should be kept away to prevent burns.