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Sierra Leone News: Childproofing homes keeps kids safe

Home is where the heart is and where children should be safe from harm. But, children sometimes suffer accidents, abuse and trauma in their homes. For example, every 24-hours at least one child is hospitalized at the Emergency Hospital after ingesting caustic soda. Accidents involving children happen every day and it’s largely because parents and guardians are not aware of the potential hazards that lurk in most people’s homes. And, there is very little attention paid to the importance of creating a child-friendly, safe environment for children at different ages.
Children are curious and that’s admirable. But, curiosity can be dangerous. There are several things to be aware of if children are around.
Candles and matches are out of reach. It’s possible for a small child to accidentally light a match and start a fire, no matter how undeveloped her fine motor skills. And if she chews on a candle, she could choke on the wax. Keep candles and matches well out of reach of children.
Glasses, plates, mugs and photo frames are up and away. If your child knocks over or drops a drinking glass or photo frame, the glass can shatter and cut him, even in a carpeted room. Put breakable plates, glasses and frames somewhere well out of reach, mount them on the wall, or replace them with plastic.
Sharp objects. Scissors, knives, forks, nail clippers, etc. can pose a danger in the hands of a young child. Place sharp objects in an inaccessible drawer or locked cabinet.
TV is mounted. If a child tries to climb on a TV stand, the set can fall on her. Mount your television securely on the wall, if possible. TVs on stands need to be anchored to the wall too.
Power bar/strip extension is exposed. Your child could easily unplug a cord from the power strip, stick a metal object inside one of the holes, and electrocute himself. Keep power strips hidden behind furniture, up high or, if they must be exposed, buy a power-strip cover.
Electrical outlets. Babies can get a shock by sticking their fingers (which may be wet from saliva) or objects into plug outlets. Unless outlets are behind heavy furniture or up high and inaccessible to your little one, close them off with safety plugs or with safety covers that snap shut when the outlet is not in use.
Small toys are everywhere. Round, cylindrical, or oval objects that are smaller than 1-inch in diameter can completely block the throat of a young child and cause fatal choking. (And little square toys can be a risk too.) These toys should not be used by children until they are around 5-years old.
Batteries are exposed. Be especially careful of button batteries – the kind you find in watches, hearing aids, greeting cards, and some toys – which are higher voltage than traditional batteries. If your child swallows any type of battery, it can get lodged in the esophagus and cause severe damage, so get him to the hospital immediately.
Medication should be locked away. It’s not enough to place dangerous medicine up high. You need to put them under lock and key. Medications should not be kept within reach of children. They should be locked up and out of the way of children. Some drugs, such as heart medications, are more toxic than others. But even the elemental iron in prenatal vitamins can be deadly if ingested in high enough amounts.
During a presentation on child safety from a medical perspective, Dr. Elizabeth Alieu, said, the situation at the hospital is even worsened by the number of other life threatening cases such as burns, drowning, chocking, and sleeping asphyxia.
“You would be surprised that some of these children are from well to do homes. These are not children from the provinces they are from Freetown,” averred, Dr. Alieu.
Bathtub or washtub. Never leave your baby unattended in the tub, even for a minute. She can drown in as little as an inch of water. Do not leave your child unattended around washtubs or laundry bins. To prevent scalding or burning, always test the water before washing your baby. If it’s too hot to drink – it’s too hot to wash your baby in.
Drapes and blind cords. Cords, ropes or strings pose a strangulation hazard, since babies can become entangled in them. Tie them up and out of your baby’s reach.
Electrical cords. Babies and small children an chew on cords and wires or pull on them, bringing down lamps or other heavy objects on their heads. Move all cords well out of your child’s reach.
Stairs. Prevent your baby from tumbling down stairs by fastening gates with vertical slats or plastic meshwork at the top and bottom of the staircase.
Balloons. One common toy that can be deadly is the latex balloon. Before it’s inflated and after it bursts, this kind of balloon can be difficult to dislodge from a child’s throat. Never allow toddlers to blow up balloons; once a balloon bursts or deflates, discard it. Always supervise play with any type of balloon.
On Saturday 9 June 2018, the Narnia Educational Group organized a child safety seminar for parents, teachers and caregivers at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel. The founder and proprietress of Narnia Educational Group, Ariana Oluwole, argued that if children are exposed to unsafe environments, then there is a need for nationwide awareness raising on child safety issues.
By Ophaniel Gooding
Tuesday June 12, 2018.

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