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Health and Wellbeing
A Health and Well-being Wales Partner

Every week, children of all ages are injured, disfigured, disabled and killed in serious accidents in the home.

Hot drinks, stairs, baths, windows, blind cords, heaters, garden ponds, cleaning products, toys, the pet dog ... sometimes it seems there is danger lurking around every corner in the average home.

Pre-school children have the most accidents at home, with boys more likely to have accidents than girls. Tragically, accidental injuries are the most common cause of death in children over one year of age.

Falls account for most injuries in the under fours, while fire is the biggest killer in the same age group.

Young people do not escape misadventure either, with many thousands needing treatment at a GP surgery or accident and emergency department for accidents which happen at home.

Common types of home accidents

The biggest dangers to young children in the home are:

  • Falling: falls on slippery or uneven floors, falls from beds, high chairs, walls and windows.
  • Burning and scalding: house fires, barbecues, matches, fireworks, hot baths and hot drinks.
  • Choking: on food, small toys, batteries, coins.
  • Dogs: babies/small children are more likely to be victims of dog attacks.
  • Strangulation: with pull cords, curtains, clothes, belts.
  • Suffocation: plastic bags, blankets, pillows and soft toys.
  • Poisoning: with cleaning products, toxic substances, medication.
  • Dogs: babies/small children are more likely to be victims of dog attacks.
  • Drowning: in the bath, pond or hot tub.

Other home hazards include electricity, gas leaks and carbon monoxide.

Why children have more accidents

Younger children are more likely to have accidents at home than older children and adults. The reasons for this include:

  • Their size: small children can’t see high-up dangers and might not be seen by others.
  • Less experience of the world: children don’t always realise a situation or activity is dangerous.
  • Curiosity: children are naturally adventurous, e.g. jumping into rivers.
  • Horseplay: pushing and shoving, climbing and fooling around can lead to accidents.
  • Tantrums and tears: children sometimes run off into the path of danger.
  • Lack of supervision: young children need to be watched, especially when near fires, stairs, ponds, dogs and dangerous substances.

General safety precautions

It’s impossible to prevent every fall or tumble, cut and bruise; however, there are simple steps parents can take to stop the very worst incidents from happening.

Child Accident Prevention Trust highlights the specific safety risks to children at every stage of their development and offers advice how to avoid accidents.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has a lot of child safety advice on its website, including sections about:

  • falls
  • fires
  • poisoning
  • household cleaning products
  • suffocating and choking
  • scalds and burns
  • strangulation
  • drowning

Wales’ three fire services – North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service – promote fire safety and carry out free fire safety checks.

Child Safety Week has lots of safety tips.

The RSPCA has advice on how children and dogs can live safely together.

Knowing what to do in an emergency

Learning basic first aid skills could help to save a child or baby’s life. The Red Cross runs four-hour First Aid for Baby and Child courses (there is a charge).

St John Ambulance has a series of useful short videos, which covers all kinds of topics including what to do if your baby is choking.

If you are worried or uncertain about your child’s injuries, get a GP’s advice or call NHS Wales.

Call an ambulance on 999 immediately if the child:

  • stops breathing
  • is struggling to breathe
  • won’t wake up, is unconscious or seems unaware of what’s going on
  • has a seizure (fit) for the first time, even if they seem to recover.

NHS Direct Wales has more information about avoiding child accidents in the home.

Last updated: 18/01/2023