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Safety Tips

Many incidents of child injury could be avoided by being aware of potential danger traps. Choosing a safe product is the first step-using it appropriately and according to the manufacturer's instructions is the next important step.

 

Some safety aspects and risks and hazards:

 

When purchasing products for children always buy new, if possible. The majority of new products have to meet exacting Australian Safety Standards and these standards are continually being updated. This means that a product considered safe a few years ago may now be considered dangerous.

If secondhand products are used these guidelines are recommended:

 

  • Only use products if manufacturer’s instructions are provided

  • Never use damaged products

  • Never use secondhand car restraints unless you can be certain of the products history

  • Car restraints that have been involved in an accident should never be used as the product may have structural damage that is difficult to identify

  • Never use a cot that is older than 10 years.  Safety standards cannot be guaranteed for cots older than this

  • Prams and strollers undergo lots of wear and tear so some secondhand prams may be unsafe

  • Guarantees do not apply for secondhand product

Common Risks and Hazards

Infant and nursery products should be designed in such a way as to prevent small children from lifting themselves out of the product (eg cot).

 

Products should also be structurally stable once assembled.  If restraining systems are required (eg high chair), such systems should be designed so a child cannot get out of the product without adult intervention.

 

ALWAYS

  • Assemble, operate and use the product according to the manufacturer's instructions

  • Use the product's restraint system in the way recommended

  • Check the stability and integrity of the product once assembled

  • Observe your child's use of and interaction with the product

  • Use products for the age group for which they are intended

 

NEVER

  • Use a product which appears unstable or unsafe or has been damaged

  • Attempt to modify or alter a product in order to 'try and make it safe'

  • Assume your child will not try to get out of or over products such as high chairs or safety barriers

  • Place a small child or infant on the top bunk of a bunk bed

  • Let children play on bunk beds

  • Place pillows or bumpers in cots

 

Entrapment Hazards

It is easy for a child's fingers, limb or head to become entrapped in gaps or openings, which may exist in certain products, particularly cots, prams, high chairs and barriers. Infant and nursery products are regulated in terms of the size of gaps and openings that are permitted. Common injuries range from cut or bruised fingers or limbs, broken limbs or in the worst case suffocations or strangulation.

 

ALWAYS

  • Check that the product you are using conforms with Australian Standards

  • Look for manufacturer details and contact information

  • Seek out correct product use information

  • Look for information concerning size, age usage for the product

  • Read, understand and comply with any safety warnings

  • Ensure that the product is and continues to be suitable for your child

  • Regularly check your child's interaction with the product

  • Make sure the product remains sound and safe

     

NEVER

  • Use incorrect fitting mattresses in cots

  • Put an additional mattress in a portacot

  • Use the product when it is damaged or there are parts missing

 

Protrusions, Snags and Strangulation Hazards

Suppliers of infant and nursery products will try to ensure that their products are designed to minimize or avoid dangerous surfaces or parts on the product. Some products may however still contain protrusions, snag points or possible strangulation hazards which are not obvious to the carer.

 

Children can have their clothing caught on snag points and not be able to get free, have parts of their bodies injured by protrusions or sharp corners or edges, have their fingers and limbs caught in moving parts or components or become entangled in cords, elastic or other material which may result in strangulation.

 

ALWAYS

  • Look for products which conform with Australian Standards

  • Examine products closely for hazardous parts, edges or surfaces

  • Closely watch your child's interaction with the product, especially as they become more mobile and inquisitive and gain better access to product parts

  • Avoid products with loose cords, ribbons or elastics

  • Avoid products with non-conforming openings, v-shapes or protrusions

 

NEVER

  • Modify or use a product in such a way as to change the configuration or integrity of the product and possibly introduce hazardous protrusions, points or edges

  • Continue to use a product after it has been damaged in any way

  • Leave children unattended for lengthy periods of time

  • Dress your children in clothes which have cords or materials which may form a loop or potential snag point

 

Water and Drowning

Children can drown in as little as 5cm of water. Children should never be left alone for any amount of time in or near water. Products designed for use with water, such as bathing products - baths, supports and bath aids - should only ever be used with constant and vigilant adult supervision.

 

Despite specific warnings to maintain adult supervision and that the product is not a safety device, it may be tempting to occasionally respond to distractions when using such products and leave a child unattended for "just a moment".

Children in bath supports have died in circumstances where carers have been momentarily distracted.

 

ALWAYS

  • Maintain strict adult supervision of children in or near water

  • Use products according to the manufacturers recommendations

  • Read and observe safety messages contained in warning labels

 

NEVER

  • Leave a child unattended

  • Use bath supports or flotation devices as safety products

  • Overfill baths above recommended levels

  • Be tempted to respond to distractions when bathing small children unless you are prepared to take the child with you

  • Leave nappy buckets where small children can reach them

 

Choking Hazard

Small children love to place objects in their mouths. This is an important technique they use to sense, appreciate and understand the nature of their surroundings. This technique however exposes children to the risk of an object becoming lodged in their airway or trachea or perhaps being swallowed and causing possible blockages in the oesophagus or intestines.

 

Infant and nursery products intended for very young children should not contain small parts or potential choking hazards, such as labels.

 

ALWAYS

  • Look for conformance of the product with Australian Standards

  • Examine products for any small parts which may become accessible to the child over time or which may detach from the product once it has been in use

  • Closely observe how your child interacts with the product and its components

  • Make sure your child cannot gain access to products older children may use which may be hazardous to younger children

 

NEVER

  • Purchase products which contain dangerous small parts, especially where they are accessible to children

  • Allow your child to play with products (especially toys) which are intended for older children and which may have small parts

  • Assume your child will be able to reject items from their mouth which may be hazardous

 

Instability, Heights and Footholds

Infant and nursery products should be designed in such a way as to prevent small children from using the footholds they need to lift themselves up onto products and risk the injuries associated with potential falls. Small children should not be able to gain access to upper bunk beds and older children should be actively discouraged from playing on them.

These products should also be structurally stable once they are assembled and in operation. Correct restraining systems should be available in products such as high chairs to ensure that the child cannot get out of the product without adult intervention.

 

ALWAYS

  • Look for conformance of the product with Australian Standards

  • Assemble, operate and use the product according to the manufacturer's instructions

  • Use the product's restraint system in the way recommended

  • Check the stability and integrity of the product once assembled

  • Observe your child's use of and interaction with the product

  • Use products for the age group for which they are intended

 

NEVER

  • Use a product which appears unstable or unsafe or has been damaged

  • Attempt to modify or alter a product in order to 'try and make it safe'

  • Assume your child will not try to get out of or over products such as high chairs or safety barriers

  • Place a small child or infant on the top bunk of a bunk bed

  • Let children play on bunk beds