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Protect your children from accidents, death in the home

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A family was thrown into sadness recently in Lagos, as their two children were both found dead inside their parents’ refrigerator at Igbogbo-Baiyeku area in Lagos.

Reports showed that the kids and their dad were observing siesta when he woke up and didn’t find the kids.

After searching without avail, he called his wife who came home and joined in the search until they were both found in the refrigerator. They were confirmed dead on arrival at the Briggton Hospital in Selewu, Igbogbo.

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This is one of the heartbreaking cases of children’s death in the home that could have been avoided if proper caution has been taken.

Chinenye Maduagwu is the founder of Safety for the Child Initiative. According to her, neglect is responsible for home accidents, which has also led to death in children. “You know neglect is actually a form of child abuse. Accidents can happen even in the most safety conscious homes, but for every child that dies in an accident, there’s an adult who failed in their responsibility to keep the child safe. In every home or environment, there are hazards, which are created from either unsafe acts or unsafe conditions. No child should be left alone without an adult or an older child to supervise them.”

Maduagwu stressed that given that some things are out of your control as a parent, and you may not be able to protect your child from every possible risk, but there is a part for you to play. You are still responsible for the safety of your child. There are lots of safety measures that can be put in place to totally eliminate hazards or lower hazard risks to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).

These include but not limited to:

• Child Proofing- Childproofing (also called baby-proofing) is the act of making an environment or object safe for children thereby reducing risks to a level considered acceptable by a society.

Childproofing may include restriction of children to safe areas or preventing them from reaching unsafe areas.

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• Supervision- Parental supervision (also adult supervision) is a parenting technique that involves looking after, or monitoring a child’s activities.

Since children can’t look after themselves, they require supervision and guidance by their parents or another adult.

• Risk Assessment- Risk assessment is a term used to describe the process of identifying hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification), look for best ways to eliminate the hazard, or control the risk when the hazard cannot be eliminated (risk control).

• Training- Learn more ways of staying safe and send your child’s caregiver to various safety trainings.

• Emergency Plan – Have a plan in case of emergency. Write out numbers of poison control, police, etc, and ensure your children can memorize your numbers when they are of age.

On what areas may be considered safe in a home, the safety advocate said that even a baby inside its cottage could be in an unsafe area whilst a toddler playing in an open field is considered safe there.

“The role of supervision can never be over-emphasised. Thus, every area of your house is made safe by applying the right safety measures.

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“The kitchen, toilet, bathroom, living room, car park, pool side, are all high risk areas. So I wouldn’t say they are unsafe areas, I will rather say they should be made safe.

How? Lock kitchen access doors. Lock toilet and bathroom doors, empty all water containers to avoid drowning, close toilet seats and keep sanitary items like soap as high above their reach as possible. Seal off electric outlets and unplug chargers when not in use.

“Check washing machine tubs before using and ensure you check under your car before take off when the kids are up. Build a pool safety fence and upgrade locks as children grow. All areas of your home should be safe if you put safety measures in place and apply the golden supervision rule.”

Maduagwu also said although no particular age of a child can said to be safe to be left alone, she added that toddlers most especially must not be left alone or locked indoors.

“Always leave your child in the care of a trusted adult. This adult could be a caregiver, relative, older sibling or childcare organisation.

“You should not ignore the fact that a lot of children are sexually abused by people who are close to the family. So the major antidote here is supervision.

Make frequent calls to your kids and find out how they are faring while you’re away. Call your caregiver. Monitor her phone conversations.

Have your neighbour or friend go check on your household while you’re away.

Plant closed circuit monitors to see what goes on in your house. Be close to your kids. Make them your friends and get them to trust you enough to tell you everything and anything.

“Parents should endeavour to engage in trainings to keep up with new and better ways of making their home and children safe. Care-givers, nannies, teachers and all those who work around children should go through these trainings too. The general society should pay more attention to the importance of safety in our homes and society.”


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