Safety at home
Children and babies have no sense of danger and rely on others to keep them safe.
Keep in mind:
- even safe products can be harmful if they are not used in a safe way
- everyday items can cause harm if not assembled correctly or placed safely away from hazards.
Remember to talk about safety to family and friends who may buy products for your child, or care for them when you’re not there.
As a parent or caregiver, you are responsible for keeping your child safe.
Children need to be constantly supervised, even when asleep, to prevent accidents from happening and to keep them safe. If you have to leave your child alone for a moment, first make sure they are completely safe. Infants should be put into a cot.
Never leave children alone and unsupervised:
- in or near water
- near a fire or heater
- near unfenced stairs
- unrestrained in a pram or stroller.
Older children also need to be watched when they are playing with younger children. A toy which is safe for an 11 year old could be very unsafe for a one year old. Older children also do not always understand that they need to play gently with younger children – and they may not recognise when a younger child is in danger.
Childproofing your home
- Keep cigarette lighters away from children, especially barbeque and novelty lighters that look like toys.
- Use childproof locks on cupboards containing dangerous products, for example batteries, magnets, dishwashing powders and cleaning products.
- Tie long cords from blinds or curtains out of children’s reach.
- Place cots and bunk beds away from windows, pictures, shelves or ceiling fans.
- Use safety barriers or guards for stairs, heaters, fires and doors which open to a driveway.
- Keep hot drinks away from children.
- Keep glass tables or coffee tables away from where children play.
- Fit smoke alarms and check them regularly (e.g. at the start and end of daylight saving).
- Fit covers over power points.
- Keep tools and products in garages and sheds out of children’s reach.
- Fence pools and hot tubs or spa pools.
- Keep heaters at least one metre away from bedding, clothes, curtains, rugs and furniture.
- Always keep young children away from heaters and fires and never leave them unsupervised in a room where a heater or fire is on.
- Use a fireguard.
- Fit restraints on any furniture that may tip over or children may climb on, for example, drawers or televisions.
Buying safe products
Before you buy any nursery equipment, shop around. Think about safety as well as cost.
Ask the shop assistant how to use a product correctly. People selling children’s products should be able to show you how they work.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions, and follow them when assembling and using products. Check with the supplier if you are unsure. Always stay within the manufacturer’s stated maximum weight capacity.
If a product has a harness, always use it.
Check all items regularly for damage, and watch for:
- loose screws or joints
- open ended tubes, hinges with gaps, or any spaces or holes that can trap heads, fingers and toes
- wear and tear on locking devices – nursery equipment can collapse if locking devices don’t work
- stability – make sure the product won’t tip over in use or if you fit extra accessories
- projections, strings or cords that could snag clothing or could strangle or choke.
Buying second-hand products
Before you buy or use a second-hand product, check it closely for safety hazards. If there is any obvious damage, don’t use it!
- worn, missing, broken or loose parts
- fabric that is worn and/or not firmly fixed to the frame
- security of locking clips or bolts
- peeling paint or damaged wood, metal or plastic
- broken straps or buckles
- rough edges, sharp points or splinters
- instructions on how to assemble or use the product.
Using products safely
Injuries can happen because a product is not assembled, maintained or used properly.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use products designed for your child’s age and weight.
- Only use products for the purpose they are designed for. For example, prams, car seats and capsules are designed to transport a child. The child may fall asleep while travelling, but should be moved to a cot when you reach your destination.
- Make sure your child wears protective gear such as helmets when using moving toys such as bicycles, scooters and skateboards. This will encourage them to develop good safety habits from an early age.
If you have a safety problem or concern
If you have some concerns about the safety of a product or if you’re injured by a product, you should tell the retailer or supplier about it.
You also have the right to ask for a remedy such as a refund, replacement or repair under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). One of the guarantees in the CGA is that products must be of acceptable quality and this includes that the product is safe.
In addition, it’s good to report the details to us – product safety reports from the public help government agencies to identify systemic issues and help us to prioritise and respond to issues.