Accidents at home are one of the most common causes of child injury, according to doctors at Latifa Hospital.
According to international statistics, more than two million children under the age of 15 experience accidents in and around the house every year, for which they are taken to accident and emergency units.
Dr. Ahmed Abdou El Esnawy, Senior Paediatrician Specialist at Latifa Hospital, said that those in the 0-4 years age group are at the highest risk due to their limited perception of the environment. Most of these accidents are preventable through increased awareness, improvements in the home environment and greater product safety.
According to Dr. El Esnawy, falls are the most common accounting for 44 percent of all children’s accidents, as per international statistics. Three-month-old babies become strong enough to roll over and they can fall out of bed. Therefore, it is advisable to not leave them alone when they are on high surfaces and ensure that their beds have protective barriers.
Older children can fall while climbing trees, windows, stairs or while they are swinging or on a bicycle. He suggested not leaving children alone in the toilet as they might slip and fall, ensuring all balconies and windows are closed, not leaving chairs or things that they can climb next to them, teaching them to correctly go up and down the stairs, and choosing a non-slip type of flooring.
Dr. El Esnawy said burns are the second most common cause of house injuries. He said all pan and pot handles should be kept away from children’s reach. Parents should also ensure that children cannot reach the iron while they are pressing their clothes. As for hot water, parents should check the water and refrain from opening the hot water tap first. They should use their elbow to check the water as it is the more sensitive than the palm, he added.
He further said that children below three years should not be given pacifiers that are attached to necklaces. Parents should also not keep stuffed animals and pillows in their child’s crib before they are one year old and they should not leave the bottle in their mouth when they are sleeping.
Children should not be given gum or nuts before the age of four and parents should not keep plastic bags near them as they might put their head in it and accidentally suffocate. Furthermore, parents should keep gas cylinders in a safe place away from children. They should also cover sharp edges of furniture and keep sharp cutlery away from them, he added.
In case the child sustains an injury, as a first aid measure, parents should clean the injury with running water as it can clean any dirt or remains of the object. The injury should never be submerged in still water.
Dr. El Esnawy said children might get food poisoning because of eating contaminated food, expired food or food exposed to the sun. Parents should always make sure that food at home is not expired or spoiled and they should avoid feeding food that is exposed to air. They should also make sure to wash fruits and vegetables properly before feeding them.
He further said that emergency departments receive a lot of children between the ages of one and four who are poisoned by medicines because parents do not keep medication away from their reach. Similarly, cleaning products and pesticides should be kept out of reach.
Parents must make sure all unused power plugs are closed with special plugs and they should refrain from leaving exposed electrical wires. Children might also get into accidents related to closing doors. Doors that close on their own or due to the wind can be dangerous as they might close on children’s toes or fingers. This can be prevented with the use of good locks.
They should not leave keys in the doors as children can lock themselves in a room. In case a child ends up locking himself, parents must first calm the child down and then call civil defence if they are unable to unlock the door.