At-home Dangers To Be Aware Of During Quarantine

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Supervising house-bound children all day, every day is the reality for many parents across Australia right now, and this is set to increase as school holidays approach – not to mention the possible long term closure of schools.

But while children are being protected from Covid-19 through isolation, their risk of household injuries increases, according to Paediatric Doctor Nelu Simonsz, who has urged parents to give their homes a once-over to check for common safety hazards.

While many are unavoidable unfortunately, Dr Simonsz says there are many small things that parents may not expect to be dangerous, but are.

“There are also some rare but very serious risks that can happen in households that families should be aware of.

“Anecdotally, from my work in Paediatric Emergency Departments, the most common safety hazards I see in the home are injuries.

While the injuries depend on the age of the child, some of the most common potential injuries include:

Falls

Once a child is on the move, they can injure themselves. From as early as a few months, they can roll off a change table or bed to the all too common coffee table head strike.

Jumping off furniture and trampolines is one of the biggest cause of household fractures.

Burns

“This can range from a burn from a bath that is too hot, to a tea or coffee scald, to a child pulling a hot pan off the stove.

Electrical injuries

These types of injuries can happen from kids sticking things in to power points or playing with unsafe electrical equipment.

Drowning

“Believe it or not, a lot of drowning injuries occur at home in the bath tub,” says Dr Simonsz.

“It is often during the split-second-run-in-to-the-next-room-to-get-something moment that many would relate to.”

A small amount of water is all it takes for an infant to drown in a bath.

Swallowed objects

Little hands will wander and have no qualms putting all sorts of things in their mouths.

“Toys, coins, insects, and more recently I’ve seen a spate of chewing iPhone glass!”

“More often than not, swallowed objects, while not ideal, will pass out the other end without any major issues - waiting for that is a fun task.”

The big ones we worry about are button batteries and pairs of magnets.

Swallowed fluids or medications

“This can be anything from Grandma’s blood pressure medication, to cleaning products to eucalyptus oil, which can be really dangerous.

“It is also surprising how many of these things are fed to younger siblings by caring (or cheeky) older siblings.” 

Minimising risk

While these types of accidents can't be completely prevented, there are some precautions parents can take to prep and minimise risks, such as:

  • Never leave a baby unsupervised on a high surface - if they can roll, they can fall 
  • Never leave a child in water unsupervised - sometimes a few seconds is all it takes to drown 
  • Be aware of hazardous furniture, sharp edges, slippery floors etc
  • Make sure child safety locks are working, cupboards are closed, dangerous objects are out of reach - little hands wander and little minds are curious 
  • Keep all medication, cleaning products, oils etc securely closed and out of reach  
  • Check toys and appliances for small, loose objects that can be swallowed
  • Dispose of all or safely secure button batteries
  • Practice safety in the kitchen, particularly with sharp or hot objects 
  • Be aware of electrical safety in the home including heaters 
  • When outdoors, be aware of trampoline safety, always wearing helmets and safety gear when on bikes, scooters etc 

And, don’t forget to talk to your kids. Be open and honest about what’s going on and share your concerns.

“Kids are very clued in and will be curious about it all," says Dr Simonsz .

“It may be an opportunity for discussion to think about health, hygiene and kindness.”

Always call 000 in an emergency.

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