Keeping Your Child Safe at Home

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Main points:

  • Although we feel comfortable and safe at home, children can still have tumbles and falls.
  • You can reduce the risk of injury in your home by taking precautions and teaching your child how to behave safely.  

What you can do

You can keep your home as safe as possible for your child by identifying hazards that might exist and removing or minimising them.

For example:

  • Install a safety switch or a mains-operated circuit breaker as well as a working smoke alarm on each level of your house. Check your alarms regularly and change the battery at least once every year to ensure they are working correctly.
  • Develop an emergency and a fire evacuation plan for your house, especially if you live on the metropolitan fringes or in the country. Regularly practice your escape plan with your whole family so your child will know what to do if you have to put your plan into action.
  • Let your child know which kitchen utensils are ‘out of bounds’ ; unless you are with them to make sure they don’t hurt themselves.
  • Wipe up spills as soon as possible to prevent your child from slipping on the wet surface. Keep play areas clear of furniture or rugs that might cause tripping. Using low-power night lights or leaving a hall light on at night can make it easier for your child to get to the toilet and back to bed without tripping.
  • If you have a pool, make sure it is surrounded by an approved pool fence that has a self-locking gate and catch well above your child’s reach. You should keep a close eye on your child whenever they are in the pool area.
  • Supervise your child on balconies and consider installing safety guards across balcony entries. Look for balcony guardrails without horizontal bars or footholds your child could use to climb on – narrow vertical bars or flat solid walls are best.
  • Lock away hand tools such as saws and drills, and keep lawnmowers, chainsaws and other sharp tools out of reach. Make sure your child is out of the way whenever you use these tools; turn them off and unplug them whenever you take a break.
  • Pin up emergency numbers and other useful safety contacts near your phone.
  • Keep a basic first aid kit in your home and car for any mishaps that do occur.

Pets and animals

Everyone in the family can enjoy a close relationship with the family pet. While they can learn life lessons from your pet, it’s important to remember the responsibilities and risks associated with animals.

Teaching your child to approach animals confidently and cautiously by modelling this behaviour will go a long way toward helping your child to interact and play with animals safely. For example, you can show your child how to treat animals gently and calmly and encourage them to not frighten, tease, hurt or surprise any animal.

It is important to show your child how to behave safely around your family pet and to keep a close eye on them while they’re around other animals. Your child should always ask you before approaching a dog or any other animal they want to pat or get close to.

If you are concerned, you can try separating your child from pets or animals, especially during noisy, high-energy play. If you are in an unfamiliar environment or have animals around that you are not familiar with, it’s a good idea to separate your child from the animal whenever there is food around – at least until you can gauge how the animal will react around food and children.

You also need to protect your child from things like snake bite and insect bites or stings, no matter where you live. In any emergency, call an ambulance and apply first aid.

For more information, see:

Farm safety

Farms provide children with valuable and unique experiences that enable them to develop both socially and physically. However farms are also workplaces and this may place children at risk of injury when playing or helping out around the farm.

If you live on a farm, your child will learn and develop farm safety skills as they grow and gain experience. It may be helpful to use the S-A-F-E approach to safety on your farm:

  • S: see the hazards – conduct a farm safety walk to identify any potential hazards, especially for children
  • A: assess the risk of injury, how old your child is, how long and how often they are exposed to risks
  • F: fix as many potential problems or hazards as possible
  • E: evaluate and record your actions.

For more information, see:

Scalds and burns

Burns can be caused by flames, ultraviolet (UV) radiation , electricity and certain chemicals. Hot drinks and too-hot baths are a major cause of scalds.

Burns and scalds usually require giving your child some first aid like holding the burn under cool running water for at least 20 minutes. Some burns are a medical emergency and need immediate medical attention.

You can reduce the risk of scalds by lowering the hot-water temperature to 50°C throughout your house, by keeping hot cups of tea and coffee out of reach and using common sense in the kitchen, such as turning pot handles away from the front of the stove and using the rear hot plates.

For more information, see:

Poisoning

Poisoning can occur when a substance is swallowed, inhaled, spilt on the skin, splashed into the eye or injected.

There are many ways you can reduce the risk of poisoning. For example, lock up medicines, bleach, floor and bathroom cleaners, lighters, matches and even essential oils.

Household pesticides used to control insects like cockroaches, mosquitoes and fleas or rodents can cause harm if not used appropriately. Pesticides are poisonous and especially dangerous for children, so try to use pesticides as little as possible and always lock them up in a space that your child will not be able to access.

Contact the Victorian Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 (24 hours-a-day) for help if you think your child is affected by any poisons.

For more information, see: Better Health Channel’s Child poisoning in the home  

Learning first aid

Training in first aid may be useful to give you practical skills in case of an emergency.

For more information, see:

  • Australian Red Cross’ First Aid – find a Red Cross first aid course near you and book online
  • St John’s Ambulance’s First Aid Training – no matter what you do, it pays to have first aid skills because you can't learn it in an emergency.

Emergency number

Throughout Australia, the emergency number to ring is triple zero (000).

000 calls are free on all mobile phones, although many newer digital phones ask you to use 112, the international standard emergency number. Consult your carrier if you are uncertain which emergency number to call from your mobile phone.

Related links

  • Better Health Channel’s Safety at home – Safety in the home, at work and during travel can prevent accidents. Reduce your risk of injury from road trauma, drowning, chemical or food poisoning, ear or eye damage, infection and environmental hazards.
  • Royal Children’s Hospital’s Home Safety Checklist - Is your home safe? Use this Home Safety Checklist to do an audit and keep your family safe
  • Raising Children Network’s School-age safety: in a nutshell – All children have the right to feel safe, both inside and outside the home. To protect your child, you can teach them some simple safety rules.
  • Homesafe Kids’ Do It Yourself Home Safety Guide- Safety experts maintain that the majority of accidents can be prevented through simple precautions
  • Raising Children Network’s Playgrounds: fun without tears – The playground is a great place for your child to play and test their new physical skills.
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