Posts tagged ‘baby’

18 December, 2013

Have yourself a safe little Christmas

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening…”

Never leave burning candles unattended and make sure they are extinguished before going to bed.

Never leave burning candles unattended and make sure they are extinguished before going to bed.

Oh yes, Christmas is nearly here! And amidst the chaos of present wrapping, food shopping and house decorating, I can see many a parent tearing their hair out over the never-ending “to do” list…

But where there’s a will, there’s a way…Good preparation is key to ensuring that your festivities are not cut short by an accident, because, let’s face it, no-one wants that! It may surprise you to know that you are 50 per cent more likely to die in a house fire over Christmas than at any other time of year. Why? Well, a combination of smoking and drinking alcohol are well-known risk factors, but candle fires also claim many lives. According to the latest Fire Statistics Great Britain, in 2011/12, there were around 1,000 candle fires in homes across Great Britain, resulting in nine deaths and 388 casualties. Christmas trees, decorations and cards were also shown to be a fire risk and responsible for 47 house fires. This is why it’s important to do the following:

  • Keep decorations and cards away from fires and other heat sources such as light fittings
  • Don’t leave burning candles unattended and make sure they are extinguished before going to bed
  • Never put candles on Christmas trees
  • If you have old and dated Christmas lights, now is the time to consider buying new ones which will meet much higher safety standards
  • Don’t underestimate the danger of overloading plug sockets. Different electrical appliances use different amounts of power, which is why you should never plug into an extension lead or socket, appliances that collectively use more than 13 amps or 3,000 watts of energy. Otherwise, it may overheat and cause a fire.

And don’t forget those smoke alarms! Is yours working? Have you tested it recently? It could just save your life. But think twice before deciding to remove its batteries to kick-start that new gadget or toy you’ve just opened – find a safer alternative – buy batteries for your gifts in advance.

On the big day itself, it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas and momentarily forget about the bags of opened presents left at the bottom of the stairs or the mulled wine warming on the stove. But the kitchen is a hotbed of activity, particularly on Christmas Day, which is why cooking should not be left unattended. Likewise, children should also be kept out of the kitchen and away from items such as matches and lighters. Did you know that falls remain the biggest cause of home accidents – involving all age groups? Simple things, such as keeping staircases free of clutter and making sure extension leads and cables are not strewn across the living room floor can help limit the risk of someone tripping over and injuring themselves or others.

Take a moment to look around your home from a child’s point of view. This will help you to spot potential hazards.

Take a moment to look around your home from a child’s point of view. This will help you to spot potential hazards.

It is also worth taking a moment to look around your home from a child’s point of view. Not only will this allow you to see potential dangers from a new perspective i.e. a hot drink balanced on the edge of the coffee table, but it is also a reminder to “think ahead” to keep little ones safe in your home this Christmas.

There have also been cases where children have swallowed bulbs from Christmas tree lights, so it is not a good idea to let them play with items on the tree. Young children are particularly at risk from choking, because they examine things around them by putting them in their mouths. Peanuts, for example, should be kept out of reach of children under six. Even a burst balloon or button cell battery could be a choking hazard to a baby or toddler, which is why you need to buy toys that are appropriate for your child’s age range.

It might be tempting to let a child play with Christmas novelties around the home, but these are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them; place them high up on Christmas trees where they are out of the reach of young hands.

No-one’s saying to go over the top and take the fun out of your Christmas, but these are just some of the things you can do to help ensure that your festivities are not cut short by an accident.

Be aware of slips, trips and falls on ice or snow this winter.

Be aware of slips, trips and falls on ice or snow this winter.

If you head over to our Twitter and Facebook pages, you can help us to share some of our top Christmas safety tips with family and friends. Each picture features some of the many members of staff which make up the RoSPA family – and one very familiar face! We are currently running a “12 days of Christmas” countdown to Christmas day, so why not take a look?

And if you’re heading outdoors this Christmas (fingers crossed that we might get some snow), take note of the driving conditions and be aware of slips, trips and falls on ice or snow. See our winter safety hub for more details.

Have a happy time and enjoy the festive songs! “Our finest gifts we bring Pa rum pum pum pum…”

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser

18 April, 2012

“Baby Bling” – a dangerous new fashion trend

Having a baby can be a wonderful experience and every parent wants their child to look as beautiful and special as possible. Although most baby clothing and accessories are perfectly safe, RoSPA has noticed a worrying new trend emerging among parents who are opting to use “bling dummies” to soothe their children and are accessorising further with “bling clips” or “bling bottles”.

bling dummies baby bling

Adding “bling” to dummies can create a choking hazard.

These eye-catching items are of the usual design but with one important difference – they have been decorated with stuck on beads, gems and other items in order to add a touch of “sparkle” to their baby’s look.  Adding “bling” to dummies serves no useful purpose, it is purely a cosmetic addition. But there are some very serious hazards associated with these products which many parents may not be aware of.

Bling dummies, clips and bottles are of great concern to Trading Standards officers.  A huge amount of enforcement action has been taken against suppliers of these products, primarily to address choking hazards posed when the “bling” becomes detached. As these are relatively new products there is considerable scope for research, advice and awareness-raising in this area for RoSPA.

The key issue here is that the decorations that are attached to the dummies, clips and bottles are often easily detachable and once detached can pose a choking hazard to a baby. The decoration can become stuck in the throat of the child or can be ingested and cause internal problems. Parents should not take the view that these products are safe because they regularly monitor their children – this is simply not possible every second of every day.

Many of these products are manufactured by legitimate companies and start life in accordance with the highest safety standards. But it is what happens next which is the concern. The items are then being bought by other companies who glue on the gems, beads and other decorations. There are strict controls on adding beads, gems or stickers to soothers, bottles and other baby products and as such these customised products are potentially unsafe.

An additional concern is that some of these dummies and bottles are being imported from the Far East and as such may not have been subjected to the same testing for chemicals and durability as UK dummies and bottles. These products have been made available on websites and in independent shops and market stalls.

bling dummies baby bling

“Bling” dummies, clips or bottles are widely available for sale on the internet, but this does not mean they are safe for your baby.

It is very important to remember who these products are designed to please. They are sold for the gratification of the parent, not the child. RoSPA is adamant that parents should always put their children’s safety before any desires to accessorise or “bling” them up.

There have been cases of these products being taken off the UK market because they pose a choking hazard. In RoSPA’s view, the biggest problem is that these products are widely available on the internet, but the fact that these products are being offered for sale and delivery to your home does not mean that they are safe for your baby.

If consumers have concerns about any products they have seen advertised, contact Citizens Advice consumer helpline, on 08454 04 05 06.

Philip Le Shirley, RoSPA’s product safety adviser.

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