Home most dangerous place for your children

By Tessa Johnstone

Every day in New Zealand an average of 22 children are admitted to hospital with unintentional injuries.

As kids spend much of their time at home it often happens there - everything from swallowing odd things to pulling heavy objects on to themselves, to playing with matches and lighters.

Wairarapa Hospital's charge nurse manager for acute services, Vicki Hookham, says that at this time of year it is often burns from fires, heaters and hot-water bottles.

"I can't stress enough the use of fire and heater guards, even for older children.

"Often the accidents are from children running and playing then falling on to the fire. It's not that they don't know the fire is on - they often do and are well aware not to touch it - but when playing and running they don't have time to think and that's when accidents happen."

Hookham says that for parents caring for an injured child, even minor burns can cause a lot of anxiety.

"A small burn can lead to two, three nights of sleeplessness for child and parent.

"All that could be prevented with a fireguard."

She says that next to burns, ingestion of medicines - even leaving the cough syrup on the bench - is the most common problem.

"Parents often end up suffering more that the children in the long run - it's horrible to see your kids suffer from something you could easily prevent."

Safekids New Zealand director Ann Weaver agrees. She reminds parents of the importance of "keeping a safe home environment where children can grow and learn". She suggests the best way to child-proof your home is to try to see it the way children do.

"Children see their home from a very different perspective, and what's safe for adults may not be for small children.

"Get down on your elbows and knees. What do you see?

"Can they see a toy on an unsecured bookcase?

"Are there lighters, matches or button batteries lying around?

"And are there medicines or household chemicals they can reach?"

- Hamilton News

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