6 things at home that could kill your child

Here are some hidden threats in your house you may not be aware of — and here's how to fix them and protect your child.

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We shuddered to read about the 4-year-old boy who fell out of the window to his death — because the window grilles had not yet been installed.

       That — like installing corner cushions, packing away scissors and sharp objects, or putting child-proof locks on cupboards — is one of the common ways we keep our juniors safe. However, beyond these basics, there are hidden hazards — SmartParents shows you how to put them right.

1. Window cords

Blinds are useful for filtering out the afternoon sun but their long cords dangling within easy reach of children poses a hazard. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSU), one young child dies almost every month from strangulation by window-blind cords.
Prevent it:
If you are unable to install cordless blinds, always ensure that dangling blind cords are knotted up high and out of reach of children.

2. Heavy furniture

Large, heavy furniture such as the television and cabinets can easily tip over, causing serious injuries or even death (recent knock-down furniture accidents have been all over social media).
Prevent it:
Choose sturdy and well-built furniture and install anti-tipping kits that fasten them to the wall (brackets, braces, straps and so on). In addition, avoid placing objects that may be attractive to children such as favourite toys in higher shelves of cabinets, where children can see them and might be tempted to climb up. (In fact, put them into a box so the child cannot see them at all.)

“To protect their young ones, new parents should only buy age-appropriate products as well as take the time to understand the safety warnings and follow safety instructions,” notes the deputy director of consumer product safety and weights & measures of Spring Singapore, Lim Lee Fang.

3. Containers with water

Even a puddle 2.5cm deep is enough for a young, unattended child to drown in. Things to look out for would be basins, dishes, pans, buckets, tubs and so on. The five-gallon (18litre) buckets present the greatest hazard as they are large and deep, making it nearly impossible for infants and children get out of, yet so narrow that the child may not be able to right themselves if they fall in head first.
Prevent it:
Always empty buckets when storing them, and keep them overturned to prevent collection of any liquids. It’s also a good anti-dengue measure. If possible, eliminate all large buckets if you have a small child.

4. Poisons and cleaners

Large, heavy detergent bottles take up plenty of space and you may be tempted to transfer contents to smaller bottles such as former food containers (ice-cream tubs, sauce bottles, drink bottles). Don’t, because all children put things into their mouths and even older children may not think beyond looking at an old food label, not stopping to smell the chemical scent. Observe this rule for medicines as well.
Prevent it:
Either keep toxic products in their original containers or mark them with “POISON” stickers as clear indications to everyone — adult or child — that it is dangerous. Always make sure such toxic chemicals are kept out of reach of children.

5. Ground spices

Kitchen spices found in your cabinet may be more dangerous than you think. Ground spices such as chilli and cinnamon powder pose respiratory threats: Cinnamon powder does not break down and remains in the lungs for a prolonged period of time, resulting in inflammation of the lungs and possibly tissue scarring. If consumed in large amounts, the consequences can be almost instantaneous and fatal.
Prevent it:
Store ground spices in tightly sealed child-proof jars. Make sure they are out of reach of young children.

6. Magnets

Not only is it possible for bubba to choke on these magnets, a greater danger arises if bubba happens to swallow more than one magnet as magnets are attracted to each other and could cause obstructions, pinch or cause tears in intestinal walls resulting in an infection, blood poisoning or even death."
Prevent it:
Check that frequently used toys or fridge magnets have their magnets securely glued into them and always warn your young ones of the dangers of putting magnets in their mouths. To be extra safe, do not purchase toys that come with magnets.

Photo: INGimage

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