Child Safety Week: 7 modern dangers parents might not have thought of

The Child Accident Prevention Trust highlight some of the modern day risks we all need to be aware of.

It’s every parent’s instinct to keep their child safe, but modern life brings new dangers that many mums and dads may not even have considered.

Each year in England alone, an average of 60 children under five die from injuries in and around the home, and there are also around 40,000 emergency hospital admissions and 450,000 visits to A&E departments by children in this age group. Around 85% of accidents to children under five happen in the home.

In a bid to make clear just where the dangers lurk, the theme of this year’s  Child Safety Week  (June 3 – 9) is ‘family life today: where’s the risk?’ The week, organised by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT), highlights the fact  that often the very things that help make modern family life easier bring new risks.

Katrina Phillips, chief executive of CAPT, says: “Accidents routinely happen in the familiar surroundings of home where people are often less vigilant than in public places.

“Serious accidents happen in seconds, often while we’re distracted, and it’s so easy to allow our attention to be diverted by our phones. That’s why we’re urging parents to learn about the common causes of childhood accidents and do what they can to keep their youngsters safe.”

CAPT says five key areas are the main reasons behind 90% of hospital admissions among under-fives – choking, suffocation and strangulation; falls; poisoning; burns and scalds and drowning. And now there are new risk factors leading to such outcomes…

1. Parental phone distraction

Parents looking at their phones when caring for children is one of the hazards of modern living, says CAPT. Distracted parents may not see their child getting into potentially dangerous situations, so the charity advises digitally detoxing when caring for children, by switching off phones at pressure points during the day.

Parents were recently warned about the dangers of leaving phone chargers plugged in sockets, after a toddler in India died after putting a lead in her mouth while it was still plugged in. But Phillips says: “We know that cheap/fake phone chargers can be a fire risk but any electrocutions are extremely rare due to the way electrical circuits are designed in the UK. The accident referred to happened in India where electricity in the home isn’t regulated.”

2. Washing tablets

The bright colours and squeezable texture of washing tablets make them attractive to babies and small children, but the concentrated detergent is harmful if swallowed. Always keep them on a high shelf or in a cupboard with a safety lock.

3. Cleaning products

Brightly coloured cleaning products can also be attractive to small children, so keep them on a high shelf or in a locked cupboard, and put them away as soon as you’ve used them.

CAPT warns that while safety caps and lids slow children down, parents shouldn’t rely on them, as it can take just seconds for some three or four-year-olds to open the lids. The charity says products containing bittering agents such as Bitrex help prevent children swallowing them as the taste is nasty.

4. Button batteries

If swallowed, a lithium coin cell battery (button battery) can burn through a child’s throat and lead to serious internal bleeding and even death. Keep objects with accessible button batteries well out of young children’s reach, and store spare batteries safely.

5. Hair straighteners

They can get as hot as an iron and can still burn 15 minutes after they’re switched off. So keep straighteners out of children’s reach when you’re using them, and put them in a heat-proof pouch or on a high shelf to cool.

6. Nappy sacks

Young babies naturally grasp things and put them to their mouths, but don’t have the ability to pull things away, so they can suffocate on nappy sacks. Store them safely away and never under the cot mattress.

7. E-cigarette refills

The little refill bottles for e-cigarettes can contain high levels of nicotine which can make children ill if swallowed. Keep them well out of reach of young children.

8. Reed diffusers

Young children can mistake air freshener bottles with reed diffusers for a drink with a straw, and although ingredients in scented oils differ widely, some may be toxic if swallowed, so keep them well out of reach of young children.