Home safety is an important but often overlooked aspect of every household, especially if you have young children in the family. For your young ones, childhood is a period of exploration and discovery. However, these little explorers are often not aware of the risks of injury.
If you live in a high-rise building, you need to be aware of specific safety precautions to prevent injuries. Start by putting in place safety features. As many of us are working parents, it is crucial to share information and tips on safety and injury prevention with caregivers such as the grandparents or domestic helpers, and ensure that they practise these as well. It takes only a split second for a tragedy to happen.
Here are some safety tips for all living in a high-rise building with young children.
- All high-rise flats should have child-safety grilles and properly installed locks for all windows. This should also be the case for doors that lead to the balcony. It is advisable to keep your window grilles locked at all times.
- Remember that window screens are designed to keep bugs out - not children in. Hence, screens will not save your child but locks and guards will.
- Keep beds, chairs and other furniture that will allow a child easy access to windows. Do not hang things on or near the windows as these could encourage young children to climb up and reach out to them. Constantly remind your child about the dangers of climbing up to a window.
- Periodically check your window grilles and locks to ensure that they are in good condition.
A balcony can be a great chill-out place, but if you have children it’s without a doubt a danger zone. Do not allow children to play on the balcony, if it’s an open one without any grilles. Set up a safe play area for your child in other parts of your house.
Take note of the kind of railings at the balcony. If you are able to choose these, ensure that they do not encourage climbing and that there are no gaps that could allow a child’s body parts to get stuck easily. However, if your estate management does not allow you to choose the railings, install safety features such as grilles or nets.
Do not place furniture next to balcony railings that would encourage children to climb.
Keep sliding doors and/or grilles to the balcony locked at all times to prevent access to children, especially if you are not able to create a safe balcony.
- Keep matches, lighters and candles away from your child’s reach such as on tea tables. Instead keep them on a high shelf or in a locked cupboard.
- Show your children the fire escape route in case of emergency. Teach them the basics of fire safety such as never use elevators in a fire, and close all doors behind you to slow the spread of fire and smoke. Should the escape path be smoke logged, keep low by crawling on hands and knees to escape. In a fire, smoke naturally rise leaving some fresh air about 30cm to 60cm off the floor. Crawling keeps your head in this safety zone, away from the smoke’s toxic content.
- Teach your child about the dangers of playing with fire, such as suffering from burns or fire breakouts in the house. Stress to them that it is important to listen to adults’ instructions in the event of a fire, and get them to memorise the number to call should a fire break out.
- Children playing with sparklers must be supervised by adults. Sparklers should be kept in a closed box and away from flames. Sparklers should be lit at arms length and only one at a time. Lighted sparklers should not be thrown at combustible materials.
- Parents should find out about fire safety plans from the building management, including floor plans and evacuation procedures. Take the time to review and learn the plans. Share what you know with your kids depending on his or her learning capacity.
- Teach your caregivers, especially your domestic helper, about the potential fire hazards at home. Caution them against leaving pots unattended on the stove while the flame is still on and placing materials that can catch fire easily, such as towels and rags, near a burning stove. Remind them to always check that the gas supply is fully turned off after cooking.
- Have in place a small fire extinguisher, learn how to use it and teach caregivers how to do so as well. Everyone in the house, especially the caregivers, should know the emergency number (i.e. 995) in the event a fire breaks out.
- Smoke is the main cause of death in many fatal fires. Install smoke detectors in homes will give early warning to the households of a fire before the smoke becomes thick, rendering escape impossible.
- Do not allow your child to play along the corridor of a high-rise flat. Instead, have them go to an appropriate area such as the playground and ensure that there is adult supervision during play.
- Position the lock on your door higher up and out of your child’s reach so that he or she will not be able to slip out without your knowledge.
- Falling down the stairs can result in serious injury or even death.
- If you have very young children, install safety gates that are durable, secures and that have child-proof locks at both the top and bottom of your stairs.
- Show your child how to climb up and down the steps and stairs safely and to use the handrails. Remind them not to run up and down the stairs especially with socks on.
- Never allow your child to play near staircases.
- Ensure the stairs are well-lit and clutter-free to avoid any tripping or falling.
For more home safety tips, visit Health Promotion Board's website on Childhood Injury Prevention Programme (CHIPP) at www.hpb.gov.sg/web/chipp, or call the Healthline at 1800 223 1313.