Nigerian Parents, Experts Highlight Essential Home Safety Measures Every Child Should Know
A United Kingdom child care service, Child Care Health and Safety, stated that more than two million children under the age of 15 experience accidents at home. It added that children between the ages of 0-4 years were more at risk of home accidents.
It’s important for parents to ensure that the home is accident-proof. But children should also be made to be aware of what to do to protect themselves from injuries.
A mother, Omotayo Omotunde, states that keeping sharp objects from the reach of her children was part of the home safety proof in her home.
The makeup artist/interior decorator added that she showed her children objects that could harm them and what to do when they come across them. Omotunde said,
“As a mother, what I have done so far is to keep every sharp object and breakable items that I know can injure them away from their reach.
Also, all electrical cables and appliances are hidden behind the shelf for their safety. For their leisure time, I switch on the television with a cartoon channel or mostly I give my kids their tablets to play with or give them plain sheets and crayons to colour and recite the colour as well.
Wherever I’m in the kitchen, I tell them that a knife is a sharp object and I show them that if they would hold a knife, it should be held at the wooden or plastic part and not the sharp edge. I also tell them not to play with needles and razor blades.”
She noted that the way to keep children safe was to always check on them at intervals “especially when you are a step away from them.”
Another mother and teacher, Mrs Dupe Akinbode, stated that keeping her children safe at home was easy. She added that the children were monitored during their plays and warned whenever they engaged in unsafe activities.
Akinbode added that her children had been trained not to move near the gas and the cooker when in the kitchen and not to climb on the furniture. She said,
“The major safety measure I use is that I make sure they are always indoors because the environment we live in is not a moral friendly one. When they were younger, anytime they moved near something that could hurt them, I called their attention to it. But once they refused to listen, they got the consequence of their actions the hard way.
“I prevent them from using gas or cooking anything when I am not around because of their age. Their teachers have helped me in the aspect of sharp objects because they have been warned not to play with them in their various classes.”
On his part, a father, Mike Osunbor, stated that he trained his children on the need to heed instructions. The cleric and financial advisor added that such helped them to abide by the safety and other guidelines in the home.
On safety measures in his home, Osunbor stated,
“If you are not of the cooking age, you have nothing to do with the gas cylinder or the cooker itself and sharp objects should be far from you. If you are coming down the stairs, you must use the steps. Other measures I have put in place are that they know they do not open the door to strangers, and they do not touch the circuit breaker or any socket.
“If there is any home emergency or accident and we are not around, they already know the phone numbers to call or where to go for help. We already taught them how to use the fire extinguisher at home and every home should have one.”
Commenting on the development, a professor of Public Health Education and Safety at the University of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, Ernest Achalu, said that most accidents in the home were preventable if children were taught home safety and what to do in cases of emergency.
He described home safety as the awareness of risks, dangers or hazards within or around the home that could lead to bodily harm, injury or death to the inhabitants.
Achalu added that home safety was necessary to identify, eliminate or reduce the risk of hazards within the home.
“Home safety involves the supervision of children in a safe environment and education of children on what it is and what it is not and the need to take necessary precautions to avoid injuries and other negative outcomes which might occur in the house or outside the home.’’
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The lecturer added that research showed that unintentional injury was the highest cause of death in children aged 0-9 years. He also said that many childhood incidents were preventable if children knew safety measures in the home.
Achalu listed fire hazards, falls, poisoning, choking, electrical hazards, burns and cuts as accidents that could happen in the home. To prevent home hazards, the don stated,
“It is important to remove matches, candles, and cigarettes from children’s reach. Also, do not leave children alone in the kitchen, avoid overloading electricity units, repair faulty wirings, keep fire extinguishers around in case of a fire and install fire alarms.
“To reduce the risk of falls, trips and slips, it is important to cover all electrical cords, and clean up spills immediately they occur. Staircases and hallways should be well lit, put away toys and arrange furniture in an orderly form, secure windows so that the children do not fall through and ensure the use of handrails.”
Achalu added that cleaning agents, medicines and other chemicals should be kept away from the reach of children to prevent the risk of poisoning, adding that the containers should be clearly labelled, locked in cabinets.
“Choking is another form of home accident, it is important not to leave things such as balloons around so that children do not swallow them.
Also cut food into smaller bits and teach children about the need to chew their food properly before swallowing.
Keep plastic bags away because they can use them to cover their face. Avoid placing rings and necklaces within the reach of children so they do not use them to strangle themselves.
Apart from direct home connection, children mustn’t be allowed to go anywhere with or accept food from strangers. They should not go anywhere alone.’’
Also, a Family Protection Profiling and Social Security and Safety Profile expert, Akinkunmi Vaughan-Thomas, stated that parents needed to be aware of their children’s safety.
He explained that family protection was the grooming of a law-abiding child through mentoring to develop innate creative potential, adding that time was the currency for family protection.
Vaughan-Thomas also said that children who were not trained on security measures were exposed to risks and emergencies.
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He listed falls, fire accidents and electrical shocks as some home accidents. The expert added,
“We tell them (children) to know the phone numbers of the father and mother off hand. The new normal in schools is to register whosoever would come to pick up the child from school and not just call to ask that the children be released to the person sent.
At home, if there is no central door between the kitchen and the main house, then there is an issue that needs to be looked into. The key thing about family protection is time. For children whose parents do not have time, you can’t secure anything.
Another thing is the people that come into the house. Parents should ensure that the main bedroom, that is the parents’ room, should be under lock and key and when you come home with your friends, you don’t take them around.”