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How to ensure your home is safe for your children

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Have you taught your children about all the possible dangers in your home? Teaching children about home safety is imperative and could potentially be life-saving, says Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Home safety experts agree that these are among the safety tips that parents should teach their children.

deadbolt door lockHow to lock a deadbolt – A deadbolt is an ideal additional security measure on an external door. Children should know how to lock and unlock a deadbolt and that doors should be locked at all times to keep them safe. It is good for them to get into the habit of locking the door, even when people are home. It is important for them to understand how the lock works so that they can unlock the door in the case of an emergency when they need to get out of the house.

Operate the security system – If the home does not have a security system, installing one will help keep the family safe and will increase the home’s resale value. Home buyers will pay a higher premium for a property if it has a state-of-the-art alarm system. The children in the home should be taught how to arm and disarm the security system, as well as what to do should the alarm go off when they are home alone.

smoke and fire in house with peopleKnow the escape plan – Children will be taught to follow an escape plan at their school in case of an emergency such as a fire. It is also important to have an escape plan for the home. An area of the home should be designated as the central meeting point, and each child should be walked through the safest route out of the home if an emergency should occur.

HomeTimes top tip: Have a designated safe room with an extra alarm remote and first-aid kit

Find the emergency contact list – A list of all emergency contact details should be put on an easy-to-access location such as the fridge door. At a minimum, the list ought to include the number of the local police station, fire department, paramedics, the family doctor, each parent’s contact details and a trusted friend or family member. Ideally, all children in the home, regardless of age, should know how to use a telephone and ask for help.

Don’t answer the front door – If the doorbell rings, children should alert an adult rather than answering it themselves.

HomeTimes top tip: Homeowners would well to install a wide-angle peep hole in their front and back doors

child in bathtub aloneBathtub safety – Children younger than six years old should constantly be supervised while in the bath. To avoid burns children should be taught to test the temperature of the bath water using their hand before they fully submerge their bodies.

HomeTimes top tip: Regardless of your children’s age, it is your duty as a parent to help them learn how to swim or, at the very least, know what to do if they are submerged in water

Understand their food allergies – If any children in the home are allergic to any food group, it is important for them to understand the dangers of that type of food and how it can affect them. The child needs to know the difference between foods that are safe for them to eat, and those that are not. If the child is too young to read labels, “unsafe” food can be marked with a certain sticker to alert the child to steer clear. Also, they should know to accept food from a parent, nanny or teacher only.

HomeTimes top tip: Keep dangerous foods and household cleaning products out of their reach or in locked cupboards

Avoid climbing on furniture – It is possible for heavy furniture to tip if a child climbs on it, which could result in a severe injury. Furniture such as bookcases and TV units can be secured to the wall to lower the risk of it tipping over. However, it is still important to teach children that climbing on furniture can be potentially harmful.

child playing with window blindsNo playing with window coverings – Cords from blinds or other types of window coverings can be a strangulation hazard for young children. Always purchase cordless window coverings if possible and never place cribs or playpens near to windows with corded coverings.

Locked medicine cabinet – It is best to store all medication in a lockable cabinet that is not within reach of the children. However, if any medicine is left out of the cabinet, then the children need to know never to take anything that has not been given to them by their parent or a trusted adult.

“Often young children copy what they see their parents and older siblings doing, so practising safe household habits as a parent will help to ensure that children learn how to be safe around the home,” Goslett says.


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