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Each year in New Zealand 13,000 children under 5 years are hospitalised due to injury. This section focuses on some key types of injury and how to prevent them.
∑ Car seats
∑ Driveway accidents
Cars are involved in killing and injuring more children than any other kind of accident.
∑ Car seats should be used in every car, for every trip.
∑ You can hire child restraints from car seat rental schemes throughout New Zealand. For information about renting child restraints, see car seat rentals at the Plunket website or look under Plunket in the phone book. You can also ask for information about rental schemes at car seat retailers and from Safe2Go technicians. Many Maori and Pacific health organisations also run car seat rental programmes.
∑ Babies should be in a rear facing car seat until one year old. An front air bag is dangerous to a baby in the front seat of the car so have the car seat in the back- the back seat is safer for all children.
∑ At the age of about 4 years (18kg) your child can change to a booster seat with a harness of a lap and diagonal belt.
The NZ Transport Authority has useful information on their child restraint page
To find a local technician to help with restraint fitting go to the NZTA find a technician page
∑ children injured in driveway accidents often suffer severe and sometimes fatal injuries; injuries typically involve significant trauma to the head, chest and lower limbs
∑ most children are injured on their own home driveway
∑ the greatest risk is to children under the age of five
To reduce the risk
∑ CHECK for children before driving off
∑ SUPERVISE children around vehicles - always
∑ SEPARATE play areas from driveways
For more information see the kidshealth information sheet Preventing driveway injuries
Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death in children in New Zealand.
The most common place of drowning varies according to age:
- infants mostly drown in buckets and baths
- pre-schoolers mostly drown in home pools
To reduce the risk
- never leave children, especially those under five years of age, unsupervised near water, including baths, buckets and water troughs
- all children under the age of three years should be constantly supervised in the bath by an adult - if you leave the room, take the child with you. Bath aids or young siblings are not a replacement for adult supervision
- check swimming pools and spas are safely fenced and gated. Most toddler drowning happen in the familyís own pool or in a pool owned by friends
- be especially careful with children if you are visiting someone with a pool. If you are in a group, always make sure it is clear who has the job of watching the children; otherwise everyone may assume someone else is watching them
- teach children to stay away from the edges of pools and rivers and to always wait for an adult before getting into water. Always wear a life jacket.
- check temperature of babyís food and drink. Be careful with microwave heating as food can heat unevenly
- keep hot drinks away from young children and never nurse a child while holding a hot drink
- keep kettles and kettle cords where children canít reach them. Make sure electric jugs and kettles have a wide base and short curly cords.
- use a stove guard and cook on the back elements of the stove first. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove
- fit guards to walls around fires and heaters. Make sure heaters canít tip over. Donít have clothing on or near heaters
- use safety plugs in low electric sockets when the sockets are not being used
- keep matches and lighters out of childrenís reach, and teach them to take matches or lighters to an adult straight away if they do find them
- make sure nightwear has low risk fire labels. Cotton burns very easily.
- a safe temperature for hot tap water is between 50 and 55 degrees; if the water in your home seems too hot, ask a registered plumber or local energy supplier to check it and turn it down
- always supervise young children at bath or shower time and when they wash their hands
- remember to always run cold water into the bath before you run the hot water
- make sure that you have working smoke alarms in your home to wake you if there is a fire. They are recommended in all bedrooms. Check the batteries twice a year. The fire service can advise you about the best types to get.
For more information see kidshealth information sheet burns and scalds
Young children have delicate skin and need protection from direct sunlight.
Sun exposure is most dangerous between 11am and 4 pm and in the daylight saving months (October to March). Follow the Slip, Slap, Slop rule before taking young children out in the sun:
- Slip on clothing and slip into some shade
- Slop on some sunscreen (at least SPF 30). Be cautious with babies under 12 months- test it on a small part of babyís skin first to check for allergies.
- Slap on a hat
- Wrap on some sunglasses
- Ask your pharmacist for child resistant closures in all medicines and do them up tightly (remember that they are child resistant not child proof)
- Look for child resistant closures on household cleaners, and poisons
- Check that all household products are in their original containers- NEVER use drink or food containers for poisonous products
- Lock all household products and medicines out of sight and reach of children.
If you think your child may have been poisoned:
- call the New Zealand National Poisons Centre immediately on 0800 POISON (0800 764 766); this is a 24-hour 7-day toll free emergency telephone service
Phone 111 for an ambulance if:
- your child is unconscious or having difficulty breathing
- you are worried that your child looks very ill
- the Poisons Centre has advised you to do so
Do not try to make your child vomit or give food or liquid until you have been given advice.
National Poisons Centre
The National Poisons Centre provides 24 hour free advice on poisons and poison prevention, as well as emergency advice in the event of a poisoning.
Call free on 0800 POISON (0800 764 766)
Falls are the leading cause of child injury resulting in hospitalisation in New Zealand
To prevent falls
∑ Check your baby canít fall off things- change baby on the floor
∑ Use stair and door guards
∑ Check barriers eg bars on cots, playpens, stairs have gaps of less than 85 mm between them
∑ Donít use baby walkers- they are not safe
∑ Use safety latches on windows kids can reach.
∑ Donít use bunk beds for young kids.
∑ Check outdoor play equipment has a soft surface, like bark chips, underneath it and that play equipment is lower than adult height
∑ Supervise kids at playgrounds.
∑ Always use the safety belts provided in supermarket trolleys
For more information see the Safekids pamphlet Preventing falls in and around the home
∑ Keep sharp knives and scissors out of reach
∑ Check for sharp corners on low tables- they may need rounding off or covering until your child is bigger
∑ Use safety glass in glass doors or put bright stickers on glass doors at childís eye level
∑ Check for anything small on floors or furniture
∑ Donít give babies mall pieces of hard food eg nuts or popcorn
∑ Tie plastic bags in knots and keep out of reach
∑ For more information see p 48-49 of the Well Child/ Tamariki Ora Health Book
The Plunket website has useful information by age group and topic about child safety
Kidshealth website has sections on a number of child safety topics including car seats, water safety and poisons
Safekids New Zealand
Safekids offers services designed to contribute to the reduction of childhood injury. Address: Fifth Floor, Cornwall Complex, Building 15, 40 Claude Road, Epsom, Auckland
Postal address: PO Box 26 488, Epsom, Auckland
Phone: 64 9 630 9955
Fax: 64 9 630 9961
Email: email@example.com (To access data and materials from the Safekids National Information & Resource Centre)
ACC information child proof your home