Raisingchildren.net.au reports that ‘accidental injuries, not diseases, are the biggest cause of death and disability in children under 15 years in Australia’.
Around 280 Australian children die each year due to accidental injuries and thousands more require hospitalisation, where more than half (67 per cent) of these injuries happen at the child’s home (kidsafensw.org).
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows the most common causes of childhood injuries are:
The good news is that a majority of these injuries can be prevented by taking simple baby proofing measures to protect the most vulnerable members of your household.
If you happen to be renting when your little bundle of joy comes along, you’ll be faced with a unique set of challenges when it comes to baby proofing your home (as most landlords aren’t particularly fond of their tenants drilling new holes all over their walls).
Here are our tips for keeping your bub safe at home that won’t upset the landlord.
Install safety gates
In a rental property odds are you won’t be able to add in permanent baby gates to doorways and stairs without making holes in the wall (unless you seek permission). Gates with pressurised mounting systems can do the job, where no drilling is required.
If your place has stairs, most importantly you need to add baby gates to the top and bottom of the staircase to prevent falls. It can also be a good idea to add gates to access points to rooms and areas that could be potentially dangerous for your baby to be in (such as the kitchen, the balcony, study, laundry, bathroom and walk in storage areas).
Secure heavy furniture and appliances
When babies are first learning to stand up and walk they tend to use anything within reach as leverage and for balance. So you have to ensure all heavy furniture and appliances are stabilised (book shelves, tall boys, tv units, portable heaters, cabinets, desks and fridges etc.) to prevent them from toppling over. This is also very important for when toddlers are at that curious stage where they start climbing on and exploring the environment around them.
If your landlord allows it, secure large pieces with a furniture safety strap or an L-shaped bracket screwed to the wall. If not, there are a few precautionary measures you can take to anchor furniture and appliances. Check that your furniture is sturdy and stable. Does it rock or sway easily? If so, remove heavy items from upper shelves to make sure the shelf isn’t top heavy.
Tame cords and cover power outlets
Protect your child from electrical, trip and tangle hazards by installing plastic outlet plug covers (don’t forget to do your power boards as well), use cord bundlers to keep cords tidy and tie up curtain and blind cords to keep them out of easy reach. In case a trip does occur use corner protectors on coffee tables and other furniture with sharp edges.
Child proof locks
Thankfully there’s a huge variety of child proof locks, clips, sliders and latches available that won’t damage your rental. Add locks to all doors that lead outside, to the bathroom, windows, the toilet and if possible to your kitchen. Ensure any kitchen, bathroom and laundry cupboards with dangerous chemicals, medication and cleaning products are locked as well. Better yet, store these items up high in cupboards that are at least 1.5m from the ground.
Last of all, for a final safety check Kidsafe recommends getting down on your hands and knees and experiencing your home through your baby’s eyes. Look out for anything that has the potential to be dangerous. Are there any loose doorstops that could be a choking hazard? Are any cords hanging down within easy reach? Are there any poisonous materials (such as Ratsaks) under the fridge left behind by previous tenants?
You can never be too careful when it comes to home safety for little ones. So if you feel as if something could be potentially hazardous remove the hazard completely if possible or try your best to guard against it.
These precautions will help give you piece of mind, to keep your kids out of harm’s way while at home and keep your landlord happy.