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    Have a child at home? Watch out for these 10 unusual child safety hazards

    Sahana Charan Sahana Charan 8 Mins Read

    Sahana Charan Sahana Charan

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    Written by Sahana Charan and published on 02 December 2021.

    Children can get injured in the most unlikely circumstances and parents need to be aware of the dangers lurking in unsafe corners. Here, we have listed some not-so-common hazards to look out for

    Infant to Parent
    Have a child at home? Watch out for these 10 unusual child safety hazards

    Mother-of-three Lindsey McIver's post on social media about how her three-year-old daughter got locked inside the washing machine, got a lot of attention. While the child is safe, the mother from Colorado talked about the horrifying incident, so that other parents could learn from her experience. Many parents praised Lindsey for creating awareness about child safety.

    As parents, we do all we can to ensure that our little ones are secure and protected from the perils of injury. We take measures both at home and outdoors to safeguard our kids from hurting themselves. But sometimes, it's impossible to pre-empt what can cause an unexpected injury.

    According to UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, childhood injury is a leading cause of death among children under the age of 18 years, worldwide. Unintentional injuries account for 90% of such cases in children aged between 0-14 years. Drowning, road accidents, burns, falls, poisoning are the most common unintentional injuries. What's scary is that many of these accidents happen in the confines of our homes, where we feel children are the safest. However, it's possible to prevent such hazards with some forethought and simple measures.

    Apart from the more common causes of injury, there are some unusual hazards that children may be exposed to, which many of us often ignore. Read on to find out what these hazards are:

    1. Getting injured by washing machines/microwave ovens

    Having a toddler or preschooler at home means you have to be careful about keeping her away from the washing machine or microwave ovens. There is a risk of the child getting burnt or suffering fractures while trying to explore a machine while it is on. Microwave ovens can get really hot, which can cause serious burns, if you leave your little one unattended near a microwave and they open the appliance door.

    What you can do
    • Many washing machines have a child lock facility. This will stop the door from opening if he meddles with the switches and also prevent other mishaps
    • Keep the washing machine as close to the wall as possible to avoid the child getting trapped behind it
    • Keep the microwave at a height so that your baby cannot reach it
    • When not in use, turn off all the appliances and unplug them

    2. Choking on toys/household Items

    Babies and toddlers love exploring and often have the habit of putting objects, which they find on the floor, into their mouths. It is their way of finding out the texture and taste of different things. While this activity is absolutely normal, it puts them at risk of choking or poisoning. Parents and caregivers need to always be alert to small toys and regular items around the house, within the little ones' reach, which can pose a safety hazard. Plastic labels, stickers on playthings and other household items such as uninflated balloons, coins, pen caps, screws, watch batteries, jewelry and small foam toys can all be a choking hazard.

    What you can do
    • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any toy or item that is smaller than 2 inches and can fit into a 1-inch circle is unsafe for children under four years
    • Organize the house in such a way that choking hazards are kept out of reach of toddlers.
    • If you have older kids, ask them to put away their toys after playing, away from the reach of their younger siblings
    • Check under cots and sofas for potentially risky objects

    3. Falling objects

    Often children get injured at home by falling objects, which have not been properly stored. Heavy objects such as appliances or pots, kept at a height, can tip over and fall on your little one, causing grievous injury. As children grow older, they are also curious to examine and explore objects inside their homes, so make sure that household items are put away neatly and safely. Wobbly furniture, rickety wardrobes and cupboards, and a heavy household item that has a tendency to topple over should be avoided in a home with small children. If kids are tempted to shake or climb any of these objects they can get badly hurt from a fall.

    What you can do
    • Make sure that shaky items such as empty cupboards, loose doors and lightweight tables are nowhere near your toddler
    • Weight down light objects that may easily fall over to prevent accidents

    4. Getting suffocated

    Since infants are not able to raise their heads and cant move freely, they are at greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This happens when a child is not able to breathe because of blockage of the air passage when her nose and mouth get covered. Loose blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, rugs and any soft bedding or clothing can be the cause. Toddlers and preschoolers are also vulnerable to suffocation when they accidentally stuff constricting objects such as soft toys and plastic bags into their mouths or get trapped in toy chests, trunks, cloth baskets and so on.

    What you can do
    • Never make a baby sleep face down; the safest sleeping position for him is on his back
    • Make sure the bedding is firm and not too soft
    • Don't leave loose blankets, pillows and soft toys in the crib/baby cot
    • Make sure the baby's mattress fits correctly in the cot and is not loose. He should not get caught between the bedding and the cot

    5. Getting trapped in a car

    When going shopping for groceries with your child, she may throw a tantrum when you reach the store and you may be tempted to leave her inside the locked car, while you make the purchases. While this can happen with many parents, it is not a good idea to leave a child in a car, alone. There is a risk of the child being affected by heatstroke and this can be fatal. Sometimes in a hurry, a parent might forget his child inside the car or allow children to play in the vehicle.

    According to an article on car safety measures in www.seattlechildrens.org, the temperature inside a car can increase 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and it doesn't have to feel hot outside to be dangerous inside a car. Moreover, the body temperature of a child rises three to five times faster than adults.

    What you can do
    • When parents are very tired or sleepy, there are chances they may unknowingly leave the child locked in the car. Therefore, always check the back seat before getting out of the vehicle
    • Keep the car doors locked when not in use and never allow children to play inside the car

    6. Tripping over wires/door stoppers

    While this sounds unusual, both adults and children are at risk of serious injuries caused by tripping and falling indoors. Door stoppers and loose wires from television, music players and other electronic equipment are the biggest culprits. Toddlers, preschoolers and even older children can suffer major injuries from such falls. Other reasons for tripping and falling include cluttered or wet floors.

    What you can do
    • Small children in the house warrant a clutter-free and organized floor space with enough room for them to walk freely
    • Steer clear of tangled wires lying about, because children may not only trip over them, they may even receive an electric shock
    • Keep doors with stoppers against the wall as much as possible and ensure proper lighting in all rooms

    7. Eating medicines by mistake

    Children are naturally curious about what lies inside a box or in a handbag. Since babies and toddlers put things in their mouths to explore the taste and texture of various things, keeping medications and other potentially poisonous items lying around in the house is not a good idea. They may be curious to open medicine boxes or your handbag, which may contain medications among other things. Swallowing prescription medication can cause mild to severe symptoms in children including sleepiness, difficulty in breathing, seizures and unconsciousness.

    What you can do
    • If you suspect your child of having swallowed some medicine, look out for symptoms
    • Try to make her vomit immediately, so that the syrup or tablet is thrown out of the body
    • Consult a doctor as soon as possible

    Other hazards to look out for:

    8. Getting singed from a lit diya/incense sticks

    9. Drowning in a water-filled tub/bucket

    10. Choking on plastic bags

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