Pregnancy and baby

How to childproof your home

How do I protect my young child from poisoning? (9 to 30 months)

Media last reviewed: 12/02/2013

Next review due: 12/02/2015

Accidents are a main cause of death among children aged between one and five years old.

Every year, about 500,000 children under the age of five go to hospital because of an accident at home.

Exploring and playing are an essential part of learning, and children shouldn’t be overprotected.

Bumps and bruises are inevitable, but you can do some simple things to make sure that your child doesn’t get seriously injured.

Keeping children safe from house fires

Housing safety

If you live in rented accommodation and are worried that your housing may be unsafe for you and your child, contact your housing association or your landlord

If your home catches fire, you and your child could breathe in poisonous smoke. It’s especially dangerous if the fire breaks out at night while you’re all asleep.

  • Fit smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test the batteries every week. Change the batteries every year or, even better, get alarms that have 10-year batteries or are wired into the mains or plug into light sockets.
  • At night, switch off electrical items wherever possible before going to bed and close all doors to contain a potential fire. If you smoke, put any cigarettes right out.
  • Practise how you'll escape if there's a fire so you know what to do if the alarm goes off.

Your local fire and rescue service can give you the right advice for your own home and may be able to provide and fit smoke alarms free of charge.

Avoiding bath water scalds

Bath water scalds can be very serious injuries, needing prolonged treatment and care. They can kill a child. Toddlers may play with the hot tap, scalding themselves and other children sharing the bath with them.

  • Never leave a child under five alone in the bath, even for a moment.
  • Fit a thermostatic mixing valve to your bath's hot tap to control the temperature and stop your child being badly scalded.
  • Put cold water into the bath first, then add the hot water. Always test the temperature of the water, using your elbow, before you put your baby or toddler in the bath. The water should feel neither hot nor cold.

Preventing children being burnt or scalded

  • Fit fireguards to all fires and heaters. Use a sparkguard if you have a coal or wood fire. Guards can prevent under-fives falling or reaching into fires.
  • Don’t leave hot drinks in easy reach of little hands. Babies and toddlers may grab at cups and mugs on low tables or on the floor and pull the contents over themselves.

Preventing child strangulation

  • Make sure any cot toys have very short ribbons, and remove them when your baby goes to sleep.
  • Never hang things like bags with cords or strings over the cot.
  • Cut or tie up curtain or blind cords well out of your baby’s or toddler’s reach.

Preventing child poisoning

  • Fit carbon monoxide alarms wherever there's a flame-burning appliance (such as a gas boiler) or open fire. Carbon monoxide is poisonous, but you can’t see it, smell it or taste it. Make sure that your appliances are serviced regularly and that ventilation outlets in your home aren’t blocked.
  • Remember that child-resistant devices, such as bottle tops, strips of tablets and cigarette lighters, aren’t completely childproof – some children can operate these products. Store medicines, household chemicals (including cleaning products) and lighters out of sight and out of reach, or locked away safely.

Preventing accidents at home

Katrina Phillips of the Child Accident Prevention Trust explains how to make your home childproof and prevent avoidable accidents.

Media last reviewed: 19/03/2013

Next review due: 19/03/2015

Page last reviewed: 29/07/2011

Next review due: 29/07/2013

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Media last reviewed: 11/03/2013

Next review due: 11/03/2015

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