Whether you’re a homeowner or tenant, child safety should be top of the list when you move home. We’ve compiled a helpful guide.

Spring is the busiest time for people moving home, and despite the dark clouds of Brexit uncertainty, many people will apparently still be on the move in the next few months. A house move can be stressful and chaotic – there’s a lot to think about and home safety may not be a priority. However, for families with children, it’s essential to make their new environment safe as soon as possible. Here’s our advice for parents.

Moving day

Even the most organised moves can descend into chaos. If you’ve got young children, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them. If you know someone who can look after them on the day of the move, all the better!

The days following the move can also be fraught. In terms of keeping children safe, it’s not just the inside of the house to think about. There’s the new environment too.

New surroundings

  • If you’ve moved to a new area, or even a new street, the roads and volume and speed of traffic will be unfamiliar. There may be new or busier roads to cross on the way to school, so practice the new school run if you can – even with older children.

    If you’ve moved to a property that now has a driveway, you should be extra careful when entering and leaving the drive. Young children have died and been seriously injured when parents have accidentally reversed over them.

    Walk around the garden – if you have young children, could they find their way into neighbouring gardens or onto the street? If the garden has a pond or a water butt, make them safe as soon as you can. Babies and young children can drown in as little as 4cm of water.

Inside your new home

Smoke alarms and audible carbon monoxide alarms are essential. The advice from CAPT and fire and rescue teams is to have a smoke alarm on every floor and a carbon monoxide alarm wherever there is a fuel-burning appliance (such as a boiler, open fire, gas hob or wood burning stove). If they’re already installed, it’s very important to check that they’re working and to regularly check the batteries.

Also, you’ll need a new escape plan in the event of a fire. Don’t forget to rehearse it, so that if the worst happens, you and your children have a better chance of survival.

If you’re a tenant, it’s your landlord’s legal responsibility to get regular gas and electrical safety checks. Ask for copies of the certificates. If you’re a homeowner, they’re not a legal requirement, but we strongly recommend you get them. Regular checks of gas safety appliances by a qualified engineer are essential to stay safe from carbon monoxide.

Upstairs, downstairs

If you have a child under two, install safety gates on the stairs as soon as you can, if possible, before the children enter the house! This sounds drastic, but they will be very excited and keen to explore. You will be busy with the move and easily distracted from supervising them as closely as you normally would.

If you’ve moved from a flat to a house, be aware that your child may not be familiar with stairs, and will take some time to learn how to use them safely.

Windows, balconies and balcony doors

Quickly check all the windows in your new home, even ones on the ground floor – how far do they open? Far enough for a young child to fall from? If yes, you’ll need catches or window locks. If you’ve moved into a home with a balcony, check that your young child can’t get out on to it. Again, fit a lock if necessary.

Check balconies for ‘climb-ability’ – keep them clear of anything which toddlers could climb on, and check any gaps in the balustrades.

You may not have settled on where your furniture goes, but keep furniture away from windows – even if it’s there for a short while. Toddlers love to climb!

If you’ve got blinds in any windows, make sure you tie the cords or chains up well out of reach, and never put a cot or young child’s bed near a window with a blind cord.

And finally …

In the period of transition, try to keep potentially harmful things, such as household cleaners, liquitabs and tablets, key fobs (that often contain button batteries) out of reach and sight of young children.

Remember – it’s a stressful time and you’re likely to be off your guard – you’re only human! However, a few checks before and just after you move won’t take long, but will give you peace of mind and help protect your child from a serious accident.

More information

  • This years’ Child Safety Week runs from Monday 3rd June to Sunday 9th June 2019. The theme is Family life today: where’s the risk? It highlights the new dangers facing families today from our modern lifestyles and offers simple solutions to keep children safe. New dangers in the home include things like button batteries that can kill when swallowed, child appealing washing capsules that can poison or nappy sacks stored under cot mattresses that can suffocate babies. 
  • How safe is your child at home? is a fantastic room-by-room guide to home safety for parents, whether they’ve just moved or not! It’s one of CAPT’s bestselling leaflets and costs just £9.25 for 50 copies. 
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