COVID-19: Keeping children and young people safe at home

The best place to look for guidance and advice on how to support children and young people in Somerset throughout the coronavirus outbreak is the Somerset Children and Young People Health and Wellbeing site. They have lots of information related to Covid-19 as well as general health and wellbeing advice aimed at parents and carers and those expecting a baby.

The Childline website is also a good place to look for advice for children and young people. It’s got some information specifically about Covid-19 (here) as well as advice for staying safe, managing your mental and physical health, as well as who you should contact if you need advice.

The Child Accident Prevention Trust has some really useful ‘stay home, stay safe’ content on their website which you can find here. This includes a downloadable action pack which can be found here and guidance on what to look out for at different stages of your child’s development here.

If you are pregnant or have a young child, the Lullaby Trust have put together the latest advice on coronavirus here.

Please also take a look at our guidance about keeping children and young people safe online here and what to do if children or young people are experiencing domestic abuse here.

Accident prevention for children and young people

As we all spend more time at home over the coming weeks, households with children and young people should think about how to keep the home environment safe for everyone that lives there. Time spent planning ahead and thinking about home safety will minimise the risks of avoidable slips, trips, falls and injuries.

The following provide information about potential sources of injury and harm in the home and the steps you can take to minimise the risk of harm.

  • Button batteries: these can badly injure or kill a child if they are swallowed. Keep spare and ‘dead’ lithium coin cell batteries out of children’s reach, and seek medical attention quickly by calling 999 if you think your child may have swallowed one

  • Burns and scalds: 95% of all childhood burns and scalds happen at home. Keep hot drinks and hair straighteners out of reach of children. Watch the ‘safe tea’ video about burns and scalds here

  • Bathing babies and children: When running a bath, put cold water in first and top up with hot. Bath water for babies should never be hotter than 38 C. Never leave a baby or child unsupervised in the bath

  • Paddling pools and ponds: If you have a garden, remember that babies and toddlers can drown in as little as 5cm (2”) of water, so supervision around ponds and paddling pools is essential. It’s a very good idea to get into the habit of emptying paddling pools when young children have finished playing in them. Think about your neighbours’ gardens too – young children can wander off into them and drown in garden ponds, even if you don’t think they have access.

  • Sun safety: children’s skin is much more sensitive than adult skin, and damage caused by repeated exposure to sunlight could lead to skin cancer developing in later life. Children aged under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight. From March to October in the UK, children should cover up with suitable clothing, spend time in the shade, particularly from 11am to 3pm and wear at least SPF30 sunscreen.

Falls are the most common cause of accidental injury to children. While most falls aren’t serious – active children often fall over – some falls can lead to death or long-term disability. There are number of fall risks commonly found in the home.

  • Highchairs: Avoid falls by getting into the habit of strapping your child into their highchair every time.

  • Windows: Make sure these are fitted with safety catches, locks or window restrictors to windows. Keep furniture like beds and sofas away from windows to prevent children from climbing and reaching windows.

  • Nappy changing: Change your baby’s nappy on the floor – it’s the safest place. Never leave your baby unattended on a bed or a changing table.

  • Stairs: Use a safety gate to stop babies and toddlers climbing stairs or falling down them.

  • Bikes: Make sure your child always wears a cycle helmet when cycling.

  • Trampolines: Only one person should be on the trampoline at any one time. Most accidents happen when two or more people are on a trampoline.

Fire safety

The simplest and most effective way to prevent death and injury from house fires is to have a working smoke alarm on every level of the home. 

Smoke alarms are especially important if a fire starts at night. Parents may assume they will smell the smoke and wake up. But in fact breathing in the thick, black smoke from a fire can kill people so quickly that they never wake up. Smoke alarms give people the vital minutes they need to get out before their home is filled with smoke.

You are 8 times more likely to die from a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm in your house.

Find practical fire safety tips to share, plus activity ideas and useful links on the Child Accident Prevention Trust’s fire safety information sheet here.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have also published fire safety advice or parents who use e-cigarettes available here.

Parenting teenagers during coronavirus

Many families are not used to spending so much time at home together, particular those with older children who are already more independent.  There are organisations who offer a range of practical and emotional advice to help manage healthy relationships with teenagers.  FamilyLives offer online and telephone advice on topics such as teenage emotions, wellbeing, relationships, online safety and more.  If you are a single parent there is additional advice and support available at Gingerbread.

Some parents may be looking for safe places to signpost young people to access their own advice online.  Young Somerset have set up a coronavirus support page with resources especially for young people themselves and offer wellbeing support through Zoom and audio.

Looking after your child’s health

Healthier Together, in collaboration with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have produced some guidance for parents to protect their children’s health. Their resources include the advice card at the bottom of the page, as well as information on the following:

The Institute of Health Visiting also provides ‘top tips for parents’, factsheets where you can find expert advice on key areas of looking after your child covering new babies onwards. It includes a range of advice including information on breastfeeding, mental health and minor illnesses and reducing accidents.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) have resources availible for parents and carers 

Learning Disabilities England are sharing information and resources about the virus and what you can do to stay safe and well.