Child safety goes down the pan as parents ignore home hazards

British parents are unwittingly putting their children at risk in the very place they are meant to be safest, because they have no idea how to child-proof their homes – and what lurks behind the loo poses one of the biggest threats.

A survey by child safety expert Clippasafe across 1,064 UK mums and dads revealed that despite all parents questioned ranking their child’s safety a “major concern”, a shocking 68 per cent of parents admit to keeping bleach on the floor next to the toilet, well within reach of little hands.

With only 7 per cent of parents storing cleaning products and medicines in a locked cupboard above a child’s head height as recommended, many appear to have been lulled into a false sense of security by child-proof packaging.

Awareness of other major safety hazards varied significantly, as although the majority of parents had safety gates installed (92 per cent) in stairways or door openings, 73 per cent had plug socket covers on vacant sockets, only a worrying 34 per cent of households had fitted shorteners to blind cords – which have been responsible for more than ten deaths in the UK since the start of 2010 (ROSPA).

With over one million children being admitted to hospital each year due to accidents around the home, Clippasafe is urging parents to use Child Safety Week (18th – 24th June) as an opportunity to reassess their home for safety hazards.

Clippasafe managing director Roger Cheetham says: “Our research has shown that although parents recognise the vital importance of child safety in the home, new parents have so much to consider that common sense can go out of the window and some simply aren’t aware of many of the basics which could make a real difference and ultimately save lives.

“In the past, new parents would have a family network nearby which would see safety advice passed down, helping them keep an extra eye on little ones. With families no longer living in such close proximity, this valuable resource is all but gone, leaving parents to find their way alone often sadly learning through trial and error.

“Being aware of the risks is essential, as is educating yourself on the safety options out there. For instance, hot running water can scald delicate skin in as little as five seconds, something which can be easily prevented by fitting a tap strap and adjusting the settings on your hot water system.

“We are urging parents to take this opportunity to assess their homes for child safety hazards – something as simple as getting down to your child’s eye level and seeing what they see, can make all the difference.”

Clippasafe has compiled its top home safety tips to help educate parents:

1. Take the time to assess each room and hallway for home safety hazards. It’s best to view things from your child’s height, so get down on your hands and knees and have a look around.

2. The kitchen is one of the most high-risk areas of the home, housing everything from toxic cleaning products to sharp knives. Cupboards and storage areas are also tempting ground for mini explorers, so fit child locks to cupboard doors and drawers to ensure little ones can’t get their hands on anything dangerous. Ensure any cords from electrical equipment such as toasters and kettles are kept tucked away and aren’t left hanging down temptingly for children to pull on.

3. Ensure any alcohol is stored well away from children – in addition to securing drinks cabinets, don’t forget to fit fridge locks to keep little ones away from any wine or beers chilling in the fridge.

4. Protect delicate heads from sharp edges by fitting corner cushions and soft edge guards to coffee tables, fireplace hearths and shelves.

5. Limit the risk of tottering toddlers pulling the television over onto themselves by placing your set on a low, stable piece of furniture or better still, fixing a plasma screen to the wall.

6. Don’t overload your plug sockets – this is a major cause of household fires. Also, keep little fingers out of sockets and prevent them from removing plugs by fitting socket covers and protectors.

7. Trips and falls are one of the most common injuries for children. Keep your stairs and hallway free from clutter and fit safety gates to the top and bottom to prevent any nasty falls. An easy-to-fit gate can also be removed and used elsewhere in the home to stop little ones from running into danger. Clippasafe’s new range of stairgates will fit openings of any size. The range includes the Extendable, Dual-Fix, Push to Lock gate, made from 100 per cent natural beechwood; and the Natural Wood Play Pen which can also be used as a barrier for large openings such as French or patio doors; safety gate; or even a fireguard (range starts at £24.99). Plug night lights into hallway sockets to increase night-time safety on stairs and landings.

8. Test your smoke alarm and make a note to do so each week. If you don’t already have one, install a carbon monoxide alarm. These are available from most supermarkets for around £10-£20.

9. Children are irresistibly drawn to windows, but they are dangerous. Make sure furniture is standing away from opens and fit locks to stop windows and balcony doors from being opened too wide. Blind cords pose a particular risk because they often hang at head height – keep any cords held well above head height by using a drawcord shortener or cleat.

10. Be water safety conscious. Children can drown in less than an inch of water – make sure you never turn your back on your youngster whilst they’re in contact with water. Also, attach a cover-clamp to your toilet to keep curious kids safe and fit an inflatable tap guard to prevent delicate skins from coming into contact hot taps. Installing tap straps will secure taps in the closed position, helping to prevent scalds and flooding accidents.

11. Finding the perfect temperature for your youngster’s bath is essential. Children and babies’ skins are much more delicate than an adult’s – what seems like a nice warm bath to you could scald a little one. A bath-temperature indicator will deliver an accurate, safe temperature readingts.

12. Make sure all your toiletries and medicines are locked away in a cabinet, as even items such mouthwash can be harmful to little ones. Don’t forget to store bathroom cleaning products such as bleach well out of reach – not by the toilet!

Clippasafe’s products are available from a wide range of retailers nationwide as well as online at www.clippasafe.co.uk