Information on keeping your young child, teenager and family safe, with links to local and national advice and videos and accessing further help.
Did you know?
- Accidental injury is one of the biggest killers of children in the UK.
- Most accidents happen in the home, lots of these accidents are preventable.
- More than two million children under the age of 15 attend A&E every year due to accidents in and around the home.
Your 0 to 19 team may contact you following your child’s attendance at A&E to offer any ongoing support if needed.
What you can do
It is never too soon to start to prepare against accidents in and around the home. Your 0 to19 teams and Children’s Centres can advise you regarding home safety.
Please see these resources for advice regarding accident prevention, including, choking, suffocation, burns, falls, mobile baby safety etc.
Button batteries are small, round silver batteries found in lots of electrical toys and devices. If your child swallows a button battery, or you think they may have swallowed one, take them to A&E straight away.
As well as being a choking hazard, button batteries can cause internal burns because of the electrical current they give out. They can also cause burns if they are lodged in a child’s nose or ear.
A baby’s skin burns more easily than an adult’s. This means you need to take extra care to avoid burns and scalds.
- At bathtime, run cold water into the bath first, then add some hot. Check the temperature with your elbow before your child gets in, and stay with them the whole time they are in the bath.
- Babies and toddlers will grab at brightly coloured objects, such as mugs. If you’re having a hot drink, put it down before you hold your baby. Keep hot drinks well away from all young children. A hot drink can still scald 15 minutes after it was made.
- After making up a bottle of formula using boiled water at >70c, shake the bottle well and let it cool for 30 minutes. Test the temperature by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding. It should feel neither hot or cold, i.e. body temperature.
- Avoid heating up bottles of formula. Each bottle should be made fresh. If you have no choice, place the bottle of formula in a container full of hot water to heat the bottle and NEVER use a microwave to heat formula. For more safe bottle feeding advice see here.
- Toddlers will play with anything they can reach, so keep matches and lighters out of young children’s sight and reach.
- Use a kettle with a short or curly flex to stop it hanging over the edge of the work surface, where it could be grabbed.
- When cooking, use the rings at the back of the cooker and turn saucepan handles towards the back, so they can’t be grabbed by little fingers.
- When you’ve finished using your iron or hair straighteners, put them out of reach while they cool down. Make sure your child can’t grab the flex while you’re using them.
- Keep button batteries well away from babies and small children, as they can cause severe internal burns if swallowed.
Immediately put the burn or scald under cold running water to reduce the heat in the skin. Don’t do this for longer than 10 minutes, as babies and toddlers can get too cold. If there’s no running water, immerse the burn or scald in cold water or use any other cool fluid, such as milk or another cold drink.
Use something clean and non-fluffy, like a cotton pillowcase, linen tea towel or clingfilm, to cover the burn or scald. This will reduce the risk of infection. If your child’s clothes are stuck to the skin, don’t try to take them off.
Don’t put butter, toothpaste, oil or ointment on a burn or scald, as it will have to be cleaned off before the burn or scald can be treated. Depending on the severity of the burn or scald, see your GP or go to a minor injuries unit or A&E.
Blisters will burst naturally. The raw area underneath them needs a protective dressing. Ask your pharmacist or practice nurse for advice.
If you think your child’s neck or spine may be injured, call an ambulance. Don’t move them. Unnecessary movement could cause paralysis. A bone in your child’s leg or arm may be broken if they have pain and swelling, and the limb seems to be lying at a strange angle.
If you can’t easily move your child without causing pain, call an ambulance. If you have to move your child, be very gentle. Put one hand above the injury and the other below it to steady and support it (use blankets or clothing if necessary). Comfort your child and take them to hospital.
If you think your child is in pain, give them painkillers, even if you’re going to A&E. Follow the dosage instructions on the label.
You’ll need to buy a baby car seat before your baby is born. It’s important to buy one that fits your car and is suitable for a newborn. The NHS website has information on choosing a baby car seat.
A car seat is probably one of the most important purchases you will make for your child, but with so many types and models of car seat on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start and which one to choose.
Find out more about choosing and fitting a car seat here.
ROSPA’s guide to choosing and fitting the right car seat and your other questions.
Child accident prevention trust guide to in car safety.
Food is the most common thing for babies and toddlers to choke on. Young children may also put small objects in their mouths that could cause choking.
- Raw jelly cubes can be a choking hazard for babies and young children. If you’re making jelly from raw jelly cubes, make sure you always follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
- If you give your baby a bottle, always hold the bottle and your baby while they’re feeding. NEVER leave baby unsupervised. Find out more about safe bottle feeding here.
- Keep small objects, such as buttons, coins and small toy parts, out of your baby’s reach.
- Once your baby has started on solid food, always cut it up into small pieces. Babies can choke on something as small as a grape (these should be cut lengthways).
- Don’t give young children hard foods, such as boiled sweets or whole nuts.
- Keep small, silver button batteries well away from small children. As well as being a choking hazard, they can cause severe internal burns if swallowed.
- Stay with your child when they’re eating. Encourage them to sit still while they eat, as running around while eating could make them choke.
- Keep toys designed for older children away from babies and toddlers, as they may have small parts.
Always turn off the power before approaching your child. If this isn’t possible, push the child away from the source of the electricity with a wooden or plastic object, such as a broom handle.
Try tapping their feet or stroking their neck and shouting “hello” or “wake up”. If you get no response from your child, you must follow the resuscitation sequence.
Babies soon learn to wriggle and kick. It’s not long before they can roll over, which means that they can roll off beds and changing tables.
Here are some things you can do to stop your baby being injured:
- Change your baby’s nappy on a changing mat on the floor.
- Don’t leave your baby unattended on a bed, sofa or changing table, even for a second, as they could roll off.
- Always keep bouncing cradles or baby car seats on the floor, rather than on a table or kitchen worktop, as your baby’s wriggling could tip it over the edge.
- Hold on to the handrail when carrying your baby up and down stairs, in case you trip. Make sure the stairs are free of toys and other trip hazards.
- If you get your baby a walker, make sure it complies with British Standard BS EN 1273: 2005. Older walkers may tip over more easily and harm your baby.
- Watch where you’re putting your feet while carrying your baby. It’s easy to trip over something like a toy.
- Use a five-point harness to secure your baby in a highchair or pram every time you put them in.
When babies start to walk, they’re unsteady on their feet, but can move very quickly. They tend to trip and fall. Here are some injury prevention tips for parents of toddlers:
- Carry on using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs until your infant is at least two years old.
- Start to teach your child how to climb stairs, but never let them go up and down on their own (even four-year-olds may need some help).
- Don’t let children under six sleep in the top bunk of a bunk bed, as they can easily fall out.
- Keep low furniture away from windows and ensure that windows are fitted with locks or safety catches. Make sure adults know where the keys are kept in case of fire.
- Carry on using a five-point harness when your child is in their highchair or pushchair.
- Keep scissors, knives and razors out of children’s reach.
- Special devices can stop doors from closing properly, preventing your child’s fingers getting trapped. At night, remember to close doors to stop any potential fires from spreading.
- If furniture has sharp corners, use corner protectors to prevent your child from hurting their head.
If your child has a fit, they may suddenly turn blue and become rigid, with staring eyes. Sometimes their eyes will roll and their limbs will twitch and jerk, or they may suddenly go floppy. The following suggestions will help you deal with the fit:
- Keep calm.
- Don’t try to hold them down.
- Create a safe space around them.
- Lie your child on their side to make sure they don’t choke.
- Don’t put anything in their mouth. If you think they’re choking on food or an object, look in their mouth and try to remove it.
- Remove your child’s clothing and any coverings, and make sure they’re cool, but not chilly.
- Most fits will stop within three minutes. When it’s over, reassure your child, make them comfortable and call a doctor.
- If the fit hasn’t stopped within five minutes, call 999. If it stops, but it was your child’s first fit, take them to the nearest A&E department to be checked over.
- Even if it’s not the first time and your child recovers quickly, let your GP know that your child has had a fit.
Although fits may look alarming, they’re common in children under the age of three. Although there are other reasons why children have a fit, a high temperature is the most common trigger.
Read more about treating a high temperature in children.
Fever fits, also known as febrile convulsions, become increasingly less common after the age of three and are almost unknown after the age of five. Febrile convulsions aren’t usually connected with epilepsy. Read more about febrile convulsions.
If there’s a lot of bleeding, press firmly on the wound with a clean cloth, such as a tea towel or flannel. If you don’t have one, use your fingers.
If there is an object embedded in the wound, like a piece of glass, press around the edges of the object, rather than directly on it.
Press until the bleeding stops. This may take 10 minutes or more. Don’t tie anything around the injury so tightly that it stops the circulation.
If possible, raise the injured limb. This will help to stop the bleeding. Don’t do it if you think the limb might be broken. If you can find a clean dressing, cover the wound. If blood soaks through the pad or dressing, leave it there and put another pad or dressing over the top.
It’s very unusual for a wound to bleed so much that there’s serious blood loss. An ambulance isn’t usually needed, but if the cut keeps bleeding, or there’s a gap between the edges of the wound, go to A&E or a minor injury unit.
If you think there may be something in the cut, such as a piece of glass, go to A&E.
If your child’s immunisations aren’t up to date, ask your GP or the hospital whether they should have a tetanus jab.
Broken glass can cause serious cuts. The following advice may help you keep your child safe.
- Use safety glass at a low level, such as in doors and windows. This shatters less easily than normal glass. Look for the British Standards (BS) kitemark.
- Make existing glass safer by applying a shatter-resistant film.
- When buying furniture that includes glass, make sure it has the BS kitemark.
- Always dispose of broken glass quickly and safely – wrap it in newspaper before throwing it in the bin.
- If you own a greenhouse or cold frame (a structure to protect plants from the winter cold), make sure it has safety glazing or is fenced off from children.
- Don’t let a baby or toddler hold anything made of glass.
Domestic fires are a significant risk to children. Smoke from a fire can kill a child in a few minutes. Chip pans and cigarettes are the most common causes.
- Never fill a chip pan more than one-third full of oil, or get a deep fat fryer instead. If a chip pan does catch fire, switch off the hob, leave the room, close the door and call the fire brigade.
- Extinguish and dispose of cigarettes, cigars and pipes carefully, particularly at night or if you are tired.
- Fit smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them every week and change the batteries every year.
- At night, switch off electrical items before you go to bed and close all doors to contain a potential fire.
- Work out an escape plan for your family and tell your children what to do in case of a fire. Practise the plan regularly.
- If you have an open fireplace, always use a fireguard that encloses the whole fireplace and make sure it’s attached to the wall. Don’t place anything on it or hang things from it.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
You get get a free home safety visit from the local fire service. Find out more here
If your child has something lodged firmly in their nose or ear, leave it where it is. If you try to remove it, you may push it further in. Take your child to the nearest A&E department or minor injury unit. If their nose is blocked, show your child how to breathe through their mouth.
If your child has a button battery lodged in their nose or ear, they should be seen as a matter of urgency.
If your child looks pale and/or feels unwell after an accident, lie them down. Keep them covered up and warm, but not too hot. If your child feels faint, get them to keep their head down or, ideally, lie down. The faint feeling should wear off in a minute or two.
- Medicines are the cause of over 70% of hospital admissions for poisoning in under-fives. Common painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen are the main culprits. Keep all medicines locked away or high up out of reach and sight.
- Keep cleaning products high up out of reach, including those for the toilet. If this isn’t possible, fit safety catches to low cupboard doors. Choose cleaning products that contain a bittering agent. This makes them taste nasty, so children are less likely to swallow them.
- Make sure bottle tops and lids are always firmly closed when not in use. Remember that child-resistant packaging is not child-proof – it just slows children down.
- Keep e-cigarettes and their refills out of sight and reach of babies and toddlers. Nicotine is poisonous and can be very dangerous for young children.
- Check your garden for poisonous plants. Teach your children not to eat anything they pick outdoors until they’ve checked with an adult. For more information, see Plant dangers in the garden and countryside.
If you think your child has swallowed pills or medicines:
- Unless you’re absolutely sure what they are, spend a minute or two looking for the missing pills.
- If you still think your child has swallowed something, take them straight away to your GP or A&E, whichever is quickest.
- Take the full set of tablets with you, so that the doctors can check the labelling and calculate how much your child may have taken.
- Keep a close eye on your child and be prepared to follow the resuscitation sequence.
- If possible, write down the name of whatever you think your child has swallowed, so that you can tell the doctor.
- Don’t give your child salt and water, or do anything else to make them sick.
- Try to keep your child calm and don’t encourage them to walk around to keep awake.
If you think your child has swallowed household or garden chemicals:
- Calm your child down as much as you can (this will be easier if you stay calm yourself). Act quickly to get your child to A&E.
- If possible, write down the name of whatever you think your child has swallowed, so that you can tell the doctor.
- If your child is in pain or there’s any staining, soreness or blistering around their mouth, they have probably swallowed something corrosive. Give them milk or water to sip to ease the burning and get them to hospital quickly.
eSafety for young children
Children of all ages enjoy using technology. Many children are able to go online and play games, make video calls to family members, watch videos and their favourite TV shows and even ask Siri or Alexa to play their favourite song!
Lots of children have their own tablets and mobile phones or are able to use their parent’s or friends.
E-Safety means making sure that the ways which children and young people use the internet, mobile phones or social media to communicate are safe.
There are lots of ways to communicate including pictures, videos and messages. As a parent or carer it is important to understand how the internet works, and that anyone can add information, images and videos at any time. It also means that there is nothing stopping children watching things that are aimed at adults.
CEOP have information, advice and videos to help mums, dads, step parents, carers, grandparents, in fact anyone talk to children about staying safe online.
Other advice and support can be found below
Sunshine has been shown to improve our mood because it produces ‘feel good’ hormones, as well as chemicals that help us concentrate, and even sleep better.
Being in the sun is a nice way to spend time with our families. It gives us the chance to play and be active together, or relax and enjoy our surroundings. It is good for our physical and emotional wellbeing to get out and about.
Sunlight to help us maintain out Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D helps us;
- Grow and maintain healthy bones
- Fight off bacteria and viruses
Too much sun can be bad for us, so we need to take care. This is because the sun gives off harmful rays of radiation called Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). These rays beat down and can cause harmful, long lasting changes to the skin.
With preparation and planning we can enjoy being outside on lovely days and minimise the risks of too much, or too little sun.
Babies and young children can become ill during very hot weather. Their health can be seriously affected by:
Children love to explore and go on adventures, so if you are going to the beach, its important to keep them safe. Before you and your family head to the beach or off on holiday, it’s a good idea to do some research. Look into which beaches have good family facilities and safety features.
During the school holidays, and in particular in hot weather, increasing numbers of children put themselves at risk of drowning. On average 40-50 children drown per year in the UK, so its important to be as safe as possible when going to the beach.
There are things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe at the beach. There are dangers and hazards that can be present on any beach, so make sure you are prepared, and pick a beach which is safe for your children.
- Beaches with lifeguards are the safest for your child to swim at. Teach your child to swim between the red and yellow flags, which means that part of the beach is watched by lifeguards.
- Pay attention to any warning signs at the beach, which warn about things like submerged rocks or strong currents.
- Encourage children to wear sandals to stop them cutting their feet on sharp rocks or glass.
- Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas. Always check tide times before you go. If you get into trouble stick your hand in the air and shout for help.
- Don’t use pillows or duvets with babies under the age of one, as they can suffocate if their face gets smothered. They won’t be able to push the duvet away.
- If you carry your baby in a sling, follow the TICKS advice to reduce the risk of suffocation. Keep your baby Tight, In view, Close enough to kiss, Keep their chin off their chest, with a Supported back.
- Keep plastic bags, including nappy bags, out of reach and sight of young children. Keep them away from babies’ cots, so that they can’t reach them and put them over their nose and mouth.
- Don’t tie any objects to your baby’s clothes as the tie or ribbon could strangle them.
- Always keep curtain or blind cords tied up out of reach – with a cleat hook for example – so that they’re well out of your baby or toddler’s reach.
- Don’t leave any type of rope or cord lying around, including dressing gown cords and drawstring bags.
- If the gaps between banisters or balcony railings are more than 6.5cm (2.5 inches) wide, cover them with boards or safety netting. Small babies may be able to squeeze their bodies through, but not their heads.
- Keep toys and garden play equipment well away from washing lines, so that children can’t stand on them and reach the line.
- Avoid using cot bumpers in your baby’s cot – they are a hazard for choking, suffocation and strangulation. See more about safe sleep for babies.
Most young children have some injuries and accidents. Most will be minor, but it’s sensible to know what to do if the accident or injury is more serious.
Start by learning some basic first aid or revise what you already know. The St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and your local NHS Ambulance Service run first aid courses. Your health visitor or local children’s centre may also run courses.
If an accident happens to your child
It can be difficult to know when to call an ambulance and when to take your child to the Accident and Emergency department (A&E). Use the following as a guide:
Call an ambulance if your child:
- Stops breathing
- Is struggling for breath (for example, you may notice them breathing fast, panting, becoming very wheezy or see the muscles just under their ribcage sucking in when they breathe in)
- Is unconscious or seems unaware of what’s going on
- Has a cut that won’t stop bleeding or is gaping open
- Won’t wake up
- Has a fit for the first time, even if they seem to recover
Take Your Child To A&E If They:
- Have a fever and are still sluggish, despite having paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Have severe abdominal (tummy) pain
- Have a leg or arm injury and can’t use the limb
- Have swallowed a poison or tablets
If you’re worried about your child and are not sure if they need medical help, call NHS 111. If you’re unsure whether you should move your child, make sure they’re warm, then call an ambulance.
Once they learn to crawl, babies may try to climb onto things, such as sofas, which increases the risk of falling. Here are some injury prevention tips for parents of crawling babies:
- Fit safety gates to stop your baby getting onto stairs. Close the gates properly after you go through them.
- If the gaps between banisters or balcony railings are more than 6.5cm (2.5 inches) wide, cover them with boards or safety netting.
- Keep low furniture away from windows. Have windows fitted with locks or safety catches that restrict the opening to less than 6.5cm (2.5 inches), to stop babies climbing out. Make sure adults know where the keys are kept in case of a fire.
- Remove cot toys and cot bumpers, as a baby can climb on them and may fall out of the cot.
Children love exploring so it’s important to keep them safe around water. Most children who drown, will drown at home in the bath, in a garden pond, or paddling pool.
Young babies are unable to lift their heads very well, so can get stuck face down in water and drown very quickly. This can happen even in very shallow water – as little as 5cm.
Even toddlers and older children are at risk of drowning, so should always be supervised while in or near water.
- Be prepared for bath time. Have everything you need ready e.g towels and toys so you don’t have to leave the room.
- Never leave your child or baby on their own around water, even if there is an older sibling with them.
- Let the water out of the bath while you child is still using it.
- Bath seats are not safety aids so stay with your baby or child if they are using one of these. Young children can tip over in a bath seat and become trapped or climb out once they are more mobile.
- Older children may not want you in the bathroom. Be nearby to check on them as they can still slip and injure themselves in the bath or shower.