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Childhood injury

childhood injury

Find out how to protect your child from common injuries around the home and what to do should your child get hurt.

Safety in the home

Cuts

Glass causes serious cuts with many children ending up in A&E.

Prevention: 

Do not leave drinking glasses on the floor. Make sure glass bottles are kept up high.

What to do:

  • If the cut is not serious, bathe the area, make sure there is no glass left and cover with a clean non-fluffy cloth.
  • If the cut is serious, is bleeding a lot or has a piece of glass under the skin, go to A&E.

Drowning

Many children drown, often in very shallow water. It happens in the bath, in garden ponds, paddling pools and water butts (barrels).

Prevention:

  • Supervise children near water at all times.
  • Use a grille on ponds or consider filling it in to use as a sandpit. 
  • Make sure your child learns to swim.

What to do:

Get your child out of the water. Try to get them to cough up any water. If they are not responding, call 999.

Choking

Babies and toddlers can easily swallow, inhale or choke on small items like marbles, beads, lolly sticks, balloons, peanuts, buttons, nappy sacks, plastic toy pieces, strings or cords.

Prevention:

  • Check on the floor and under furniture for small items and that toys with small pieces are not left out for a toddler to chew and choke on. 
  • Check toys are age appropriate, in good condition and include toy safety marks.

What to do:

If your child is choking, act immediately and calmly. Make sure you do not push the object further down the throat. Encourage your child to cough. Use back blows, if they become unconscious, call 999 (do not leave your child alone) and start CPR.

Strangulation

Window blind cords and chains can pose a risk for babies and children who could injure or even strangle themselves on the hanging looped cords.

Prevention:

  • Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom.
  • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach.
  • Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available.
  • Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window.
  • Do not hang toys or objects on the cot or bed that could be a hazard.
  • Do not hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring.

What to do:

Untangle your child, call 999 and start CPR.

Burns and scalds

A burn is damage to the skin, which is caused by direct contact with something hot. Burns can also be caused by certain chemicals, electricity and friction. A scald is a burn that is caused by a hot liquid or steam. Scalds are treated in the same way as burns.

Prevention:

  • Keep hot drinks out of reach.
  • When running a bath, turn the cold water on first and always test the temperature with your elbow before letting your child get into the bath or shower.
  • Keep hot irons, curling tongs and hair straighteners out of reach, even when cooling down.
  • Turn pan handles away from the front of the counter.

What to do:

  • Treat the burn or scald straight after the accident by running under cold water for 20 minutes.
  • Do not use creams, lotions or ointments on the burn or scald.
  • Always take your child or baby to A&E if it is anything other than a very mild burn.

Find your nearest A&E department (internal link)

Medicines and poisonings

Every week, around 500 children under five are rushed to hospital because it’s thought they have swallowed something poisonous. Most poisoning accidents involve medicines, household products and cosmetics. The most common form of poisoning is from medication.

  1. You think your child has swallowed a harmful medicine, chemical or batteries.
  2. Find the bottle or packet and take it with you when you seek medical help.
  3. Act quickly to get your child to hospital.

Alcohol

Even a small amount can cause alcohol poisoning in children. Alcohol affects the central nervous system and symptoms can include confusion, vomiting and seizures. The child may have difficulty breathing and flushed or pale skin. Alcohol impairs the gag reflex, which can cause choking. If your child has drunk alcohol, act quickly to get your child to hospital.

Storing medicines

Keep medicines well out of reach and out of sight of young children. Put them in a high cupboard, a cupboard fitted with a child-resistant catch, a lockable cabinet, or even a lockable suitcase. If a medicine needs to be kept in the fridge, keep it as high up and hidden as possible. Don’t keep them:

  • On your bedside table - your child can easily get into the bedroom without being seen.
  • In your handbag - this is a favourite place for toddlers to find tablets.

Top tips

  • Keep medicines high up and out of reach.
  • Keep anything that may be poisonous out of reach - this includes all medicines and pills, alcohol, household cleaners, liquid washing tablets and garden products, preferably in a locked cupboard.
  • Use containers that have child-resistant tops - be aware that by the age of three, many children are able to open child-resistant tops.
  • Keep all dangerous chemicals in their original containers - for example, do not store weedkiller in an old drinks bottle as a young child may mistake it for something safe to drink.
  • Discourage your children from eating any plants or fungi when outside. Avoid buying plants with poisonous leaves or berries.
  • Keep alcohol out of the reach of children.

Health visitor tips

If you have young children, be extra careful when you have guests to stay or when you go to visit other people. If your friends and relatives do not have children, they may not think to keep certain items out of the reach of children and their homes may not be child friendly. Children need to be kept an eye on and you may wish to politely ask for items such as alcohol, medicines and cigarettes to be kept out of their reach.

Bumps, bruises and falls

Minor cuts, bumps and bruises are a normal part of growing up. Allowing your child to explore the world around them (with supervision) helps them develop and learn. Most of your toddler’s bumps will require no more than a cuddle to make them better.

You will quickly be able to tell by the noise of the bang, the reaction of your child and the colour of the area affected, which are the more serious bumps. If your child has unexplained bruising or injury, you need to find out how this happened.

If it looks like the bump may swell, use a cold flannel (soaking the cloth with cold water) or ice pack (but don’t put ice directly onto the skin) to help reduce swelling and to cool the area for at least a few minutes.

  1. After a fall, comfort your child, check for injuries, treat bumps and bruises.
  2. Give your child some sugar-free paracetamol and let them rest whilst watching them closely.
  3. Seek immediate help if they: have seriously injured themselves, are unconscious, have difficulty breathing or are having a seizure.

Head injury

If your child has had a bump to the head and it looks serious or symptoms worsen, call your GP. 

If your child is under a year old and has a bump on the head, get advice from your GP.

One of the signs of a severe head injury is being unusually sleepy, this does not mean you cannot let your child sleep. You need to get medical attention if:

  • They are vomiting persistently (more than three times).
  • They are complaining it hurts.
  • They are not responding at all.
  • Pain is not relieved by sugarfree paracetamol or ibuprofen.

If your child is tired from what’s happened, or from crying, then it is fine to let them sleep. If you are worried in any way about their drowsiness, then you should wake your child an hour after they go to sleep. Check they are okay and responding normally throughout the night.

Falls

For babies, the biggest danger is rolling off the edge of a bed or changing surface. For toddlers, it is more about falling from furniture or down stairs.

Prevention:

  • Make sure your baby cannot roll off any surfaces, put pillows around them.
  • Do not put a bouncing cradle or car seat on a surface where they could wriggle off.
  • Use stairgates once your child is mobile.
  • Make sure balconies are locked and fit restrictors and safety locks to windows.

Who to contact for help

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