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Child Safety Week 2011

As a special for Child Safety Week 2011 we have pulled together some frequently asked home safety questions from CAPT

Child Safety Week 2011 SPECIAL. Here we have pulled together answers to questions that parents and carers frequently ask us about child safety and preventing childhood accidents:

I have been given a baby walker. Should I use it?

Is there a safe age for children to use bunk beds?

How long does it take hot liquid to produce a serious burn?

How can we make our pond safe?

How do I fit my child’s cycle helmet correctly?

Can I carry my child in the front seat of my car?



I have been given a baby walker. Should I use it?


In the past, we have always advised parents not to use baby walkers. Research showed that baby walkers caused more accidental injuries than any other type of baby equipment or furniture.

Recently, baby walkers have come onto the market that comply with a new standard BS EN 1273:2005. It is too early to say whether this new standard will reduce the number of accidents.

However, there are still reasons for not using a baby walker, even if it complies with the new standard. In particular, it may still put your baby at risk of serious injury by giving them height and mobility:

It can allow your baby to reach higher than usual and grab at hot drinks or dangling flexes from irons or kettles.

It can give your baby freedom, allowing them to get to places they might not be able to reach on their own – for example, the top of the stairs, the fireplace or perhaps your garden pond.

Some parents want to use baby walkers because they think they help babies learn to walk. Paediatricians have stressed this is not true. In fact there is evidence to suggest that baby walkers may delay normal child development. Rolling, sitting, crawling and playing on the floor are all important stages in developing strength and learning to walk.



Is there a safe age for children to use bunk beds?


We recommend that top bunks are not used by children under six years old. This is because the safety standards for bunk beds are based on average measurements of children of this age. The spaces between the bars and around the mattress have been tested to make sure that a six year-old could not get trapped in any part of the bed. They are not designed for children under six.

Once children are old enough to use the top bunk, bear the following safety advice in mind:

 Look at what your child could fall onto from the top bunk. Try to avoid having sharp corners such as bookcases or radiators directly underneath.

If the top bunk is close to a window, use window locks so the windows can only open part way.

A nightlight can be a good idea, to help children climb up and down safely in the night.

Never let children of any age play on the top bunk.



How long does it take hot liquid to produce a serious burn?


A young child’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than an adult’s. It therefore burns more quickly. Hot drinks and hot water from your bath tap pose particular problems.

Take care with kettles and mugs of tea or coffee when young children are around:

A kettle that has just boiled contains water at a temperature close to 100ºC. This will scald a young child instantly.

A mug of tea or coffee (with milk) that has just been made is at least 70ºC. This will scald a young child in less than one second.

After standing for 15 minutes, the temperature of the tea or coffee in the mug will be around 55 ºC. This will scald a young child in 10 seconds.

Bath water can cause very serious scalds. It can take just five seconds for a toddler to suffer a third degree burn from water flowing at 60oC from a bath hot tap. Yet water must be stored at high temperatures to avoid the risk of legionella.

The most effective way to prevent bath water scalds is to get a thermostatic mixing valve fitted to your bath tap. This mixes hot and cold water to a preset temperature before it emerges from the tap. If you don’t have one of these fitted, always run cold water into the bath before hot. And never leave a young child alone in the bathroom.

More information First Aid for burns and scalds



How can we make our pond safe?


Ponds pose a particular danger for babies, toddlers and young children. Even shallow water can be dangerous. A baby or toddler can drown in as little as 5cm (2”) of water.

If you have a garden pond, cover it with a solid, rigid cover. Better still, drain your pond until your child is older and fill it with sand to make a sand pit. Make sure too that toddlers and young children can’t reach the pond next door.



How do I fit my child’s cycle helmet correctly?


 Buy the right sized helmet for your child by measuring around their head, about 2.5cm (1”) above the eyebrows. That is the head size that will be shown on the inside of a helmet, on an attached label or on the box.

Make sure the helmet is level on the head about 2.5cm (1”) above the eyebrows and fasten the straps.

If the helmet is loose, use the pads that come with it and/or straps to achieve a closer fit.

Straps should be adjusted so there is no slackness.

The front strap should be as vertical as possible. The rear strap should join the front strap just under the ears.

The fastened buckle should rest just under the chin, not on the jaw line.

The helmet should fit snugly but not be tight.

Check the fit of the helmet every month or two as your child grows.



Can I carry my child in the front seat of my car?


 The law says “yes” as long as the child is appropriately restrained. But our advice is that all children are safer in the back seat. That’s because the majority of crashes involve the front of the car.

 If you have an airbag in the front passenger seat, never use a rear-facing baby seat in the front unless the airbag is switched off – use it in the back seat instead. That’s because a rear-facing baby seat puts your baby’s head very close to the dashboard. So, if the airbag inflates, the impact could cause serious head or neck injuries to your baby.

 We have a leaflet that explains what the law says about carrying babies and children in cars.. We will be happy to send you one on receipt of a stamped addressed envelope (SAE) marked car safety leaflet. Send your SAE to Child Accident Prevention Trust, Canterbury Court (1.09), 1-3 Brixton Road, London SW9 6DE.

 Your local council road safety officer should also be able to answer any questions you have on travelling safely and within the law. To find their contact details check

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