How to make your house safe for young children

Written by Dr Rory O Brien, Clinical Lead of Emergency Medicine and Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine in CUH


The most effective means of preventing injury to your child in the home is through effective supervision, however it is not possible to watch your child/children for every second of ever day.


Most injuries to children occur in the home, so a few basic tips can make your home a safer place for your child.

  • If you have more than one child, rather than bathing a child and leaving him/her alone for brief periods of time due to competing demands with other children, just wipe them down with a wet cloth, saving bath time for when you have some help supervising the other children.
  • Install barriers to prevent entry to hazardous areas of your house, and at the top and bottom of your stairs.
  • Rearrange furniture to improve traffic flow. Put corner protectors on the edges of tables and cabinets.
  • Ensure you have functioning small alarm and carbon monoxide alarms. Mains powered alarms are preferable.
  • Install oven and stove guards. Ideally don’t have your young children in the kitchen when you are cooking – but having a playpen in the corner of the room is a safe alternative.
  • Put a safety latch on the knife drawer.
  • Keep hot drinks and foods away from the edge of the countertop or table.
  • Never leave young children unattended in the bath. Use anti-slip mats in the bath/shower.
  • Install finger jam protectors to all doors. Always be careful when closing car doors (ideally this should be supervised by an adult)
  • Lock all medications, cleaning equipment, poisons and matches away in a high cupboard.
  • Ensure the hot water tap delivers a maximum temperature of 50 degrees. Bath water should be kept around 37-39 degrees for a baby.
  • Keep the bathroom and laundry doors shut, preferably with a safety lock.
  • Beware of any toys that take button batteries. These can cause severe burns and have lead to death, so should be disposed of immediately and carefully.
  • Windows are an important means of escape during a fire, but can be dangerous if climbed through. Ensure that safety windows are installed upstairs, and keep furniture away from the window so as to prevent your child from climbing up.
  • Keep your exercise equipment in a separate room away from your young children. Ensure that exercise bikes and treadmills have finger protectors.
  • Never reverse in the driveway until you know all your children are safe.
  • Close your driveway gate to minimise the risk of your child running onto the road.

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