Ensure your home is safe for children

Wednesday September 11 2019

Enusre medicines and chemicals are out of reach

Enusre medicines and chemicals are out of reach of children. Photo by Ismail Kezaala 


Children are prone to accidents in a home. It could probably be because at their tender age, they are still figuring out life and can barely differentiate between what is right and wrong.
That is why, for example, one may find a very curious child wandering off towards the home gate, trying to open it with the intention of going outside to play with other children.
Or perhaps, if you are a parent, you might have one time come across your child trying to swallow small items such as coins, batteries or even pieces of jewellery. And, how about those times parents place either tablets or syrups in a certain location of the house only to find their children in the process of attempting to get them. Many of these incidents undoubtedly make the hearts of many parents skip a beat.
In order to prevent some of these calamities from happening, there are measures parents and guardians can put in place in their homes to ensure the home is safe for children.

In many homes today, there are facilities like bathtubs and showers, which are common sources of accidents in our homes, says Peter Mabirizi, a plumbing engineer working with Plenco Plumbing and Construction Company Limited.
“You may have heard of stories of children slipping after a bath and usually, these bathroom facilities are often the root cause,” Mabirizi says.
For parents with tiles in their bathrooms, Mabirizi advises them to always ensure there is nothing lying around on the surface, especially soap, because of its slippery nature.
Secondly, always keep the bathroom dry, for instance, if there is any water that has spilled over from the bathtub onto the floor, mop it immediately.
Then, make use of non-slip bath mats and bathroom rugs to act as barriers against slips.
But most importantly, Mabirizi urges parents to always supervise their children’s bathroom activities especially whenever they are taking a bath.
“Always be there by their side. Never leave them alone, unattended to. For example, if you are bathing a one-year-old in the bathtub, hold them or alternatively, place the toddler in a baby bath seat,” Mabirizi emphasises.
Failure to observe any of these practices can lead to accidents among children.

A few years ago, a parent shared with me a story of how their four-year-old son fell off his decker bed while he slept in the night.
The accident happened because the bed had no barriers installed. Luckily, the boy sustained minor injuries.
Similarly, you may have probably heard of stories of toddlers falling from their cots, especially during an attempt to try to climb out of them. Or perhaps, you might have heard of stories of toddlers suffocating because blankets or pillows were left on the bed. Some of these deaths have also been as a result of parents sharing beds with their children (especially babies).
Olivia Nansubuga, a sales attendant in a children’s furniture showroom in Entebbe, advises parents who opt for double deckers or bunkers for their children to buy those with barriers.
“These barricades are purposely designed to ensure that your children don’t fall while they sleep,” Nansubuga says.
Also, since there are different types of baby cots on the market, Nansubuga says it is very important that parents buy those they deem safe for their children, for example, cots with railings on all sides are usually considered as some of the ideal ones for youngsters.

An open swimming pool can pose a safety risk
An open swimming pool can pose a safety risk for children. Photo by Rachel Mabala

One of the places in a home children enjoy spending their time is the compound. It is here they love to run about or play outdoor games. But, as much as these compounds are a great open-air facility for children to play in, they have also been known to be a fundamental base for accidents and even deaths. A great example are the swimming facilities in some homes.

Swimming pool
From time to time, you may have heard of stories children escaping from their caretakers only to be found moments later drowned in a swimming pound. It is a sad reality that keeps occurring from time to time. But these swimming pool accidents can be avoided. How?
“If you have young children, you may then need to erect boundaries around the area surrounding the pool, some sort of pool fence that any adult has capacity to lock with a key,” says Timothy Mubiru, a pool attendant in Kiwatule, a suburb in the outskirts of Kampala.
The other alternative is opting for a swimming pool cover or if you can afford the regular services of a swimming pool attendant, why not? Part of their job jurisdiction is to ensure that the pool area is always safe.


Home gate
Have there been times you wondered where your child was only to find they managed to open the gate and probably walked to the neighbour’s home. Emily Namusoke relates to this experience.
Namusoke says her two daughters aged two and four, had tendencies of escaping from the home premises.
“The first time it happened, I had left them watching television as I stayed inside my bathroom washing clothes. When I returned 20 minutes later to check on them, they had vanished into thin air. I remember almost fainting that day,” she says.
Namusoke tried searching every part of the house but failed to find them. She even tried calling their names in vain. When she stepped out of the house into the compound, alas, she found the gate wide open.
“I got out of the gate and started running like a mad woman calling out the names of my children. They did not respond,” she says.
About five minutes later during her quest, she found the two little girls in one of the homes in the neighbourhood playing with other children.
“By the time I found them, I was crying uncontrollably and perhaps they must have wondered why mummy was in that state,” Namusoke says.
Namusoke later learnt that her daughters had managed to escape because the gate had no lock. The incident taught her a lesson.
“Whenever I am home with them, I ensure to lock the gate with a padlock especially if I am busy with chores around the house,” she says.
There is no way a child can open a gate which has been locked with a padlock.

Keep away coins
Like medicine, coins and any other small objects, should be kept away from the children. There are always high chances of a curious crawling toddler coming across a coin and thereafter putting it in the mouth.
So, it is always better to keep them away. The same applies to sharp tools such as hoes and knives.

Install socket covers
A child’s inquisitive nature may prompt them to play with sockets. This is why you may find them, especially very young ones, trying to fix all sorts of things inside sockets or even attempting to push inside their little fingers.
The solution then is installing plug covers which limit youngsters from inserting items inside the socket.

Keep that medicine out of reach
Since children love to adventure, there are times they might see a certain bottle of syrup on a table and get tempted to take its content. Or perhaps, they may be tablets placed on a table that the toddler may get interested in swallowing. “Always keep medicine away because a child may ignorantly take all the contents and overdose,” says Alex Kakoraki, a general practitioner with Murchison Bay hospital in Luzira.

Besides medicine, Kakoraki advises parents to always keep away any other poisonous chemicals or liquids that might be in the house, for example, paraffin.