Child and Family Safety
Accidental injuries are a major health problem throughout the United Kingdom. They are one of the most common causes of death in children over one year of age and leave many thousands permanently disabled or disfigured.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents report that every year more than two million children under the age of 15 experience accidents in and around the home, that require treatment at accident and emergency units. Many more are treated by GPs and by parents and carers.
The information below is for parents and carers and for practitioners working with children. You can also refer to the multi-agency DDSCP Family Safety Advice Guidance .
Information about online and e-safety can be found on our Online Abuse page.
Safety around the home
Most accidents in the home are preventable through increased awareness, improvements in the home environment and better product safety. Information about accident prevention can be found on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents website. Key general home safety advice includes:
- Children should be supervised at all times particularly around ponds, baths and open water.
- Keep floors free of toys and obstructions that can be tripped over.
- Always use a securely fitted safety harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair.
- Children should be looked after by a responsible carer and should not be left unsupervised with casual friends or acquaintances.
- Never leave babies unattended on raised surfaces.
- Always keep nappy sacks and other plastic bags or wrapping away from babies and young children.
- Keep medicines, cleaning products/dishwasher tablets and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard.
- Choose toys appropriate to the age of the child, ensure those with button batteries have lockable battery compartments. Seek immediate medical attention if there are any concerns about a child swallowing a button battery.
- Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children.
- Never leave children unsupervised with a dog.
- Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and out of reach.
- Keep small children out of the kitchen whenever possible.
- Large items of furniture should be secured to the wall.
Smoke alarms - the easiest way to protect children and families from fire is a smoke alarm.
- You are twice as likely to die in a fire if you do not have a smoke alarm that works.
- There should be a smoke alarm on every level of the family home.
- Test batteries in smoke alarms every week.
- If your smoke alarm is not working, immediately replace the battery or replace the alarm.
Fire escape plans - having a fire escape plan could save the lives of your family.
- Agree a fire escape plan together as a family; make sure the children know what to do and make sure the children are the first to leave the property.
- Remember children are unlikely to be woken up by a fire alarm.
- Ensure the escape route is practical so it can be carried out.
To find out more about fire safety, including fire prevention, smoke alarms, bedtime checks and fire escape plans see the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service website. You will also be able to find information about Safe and Well Visits, targeted for those who are most vulnerable to fire, to help families make their homes a safer place.
Also remember that skin products which contain paraffin, such as white soft paraffin, white soft paraffin plus 50% liquid paraffin and emulsifying ointment, present an increased fire risk. This means that there is a greater risk of clothing, medical dressings and bed clothes catching fire. You can read more about this on the GOV.UK website.
Safe sleep practice reduces the risk of cot death in babies and infants.
- The Department of Health advises against bed sharing and recommends that babies sleep in their own cot in the parents' room for the first six months. If parents find this difficult to follow they should speak to their Midwife of Health Visitor.
- Babies should always be placed to sleep on their backs on a flat surface and in the feet to the foot of the cot position. The mattress should not be elevated and the use of pillows is discouraged.
- Never put a baby to sleep or sleep with a baby on a sofa, armchair or settee.
- Babies should be in the same room as the parent(s) during the day or night.
- If a baby is given a dummy at sleep times, it should be used at every sleep time until the age of six months.
- Babies and infants should never be left to sleep for long periods in car seats; once a journey is complete they should be taken out of the car seat.
- Midwives and Health Visitors can offer safer sleep support and will complete a safe sleep assessment. If the baby is less than 6 months old and this hasn't taken place you can refer to the Midwife (if the baby is less than 10 days old) or Health Visitor (if the baby is over 10 days old).
- To avoid overheating, babies and young children should have their outdoor clothing and hats removed once they are moved indoors.
- Remember that children under the age of six years should not sleep in cabin or bunk beds or share these with siblings or friends.
See the DDSCP multi-agency Guidance to Support Safe Sleeping Practices in Babies and Infantsand CDOP Safe Sleep Alert. Please also see Co-sleeping and SIDS - a guide for health professionals and the Lullaby Trust website.
Prevention of non-accidental head injury
It is very dangerous to shake babies and infants as it can cause serious injury or death.
- Parents or carers may shake a baby in a moment of anger or frustration, especially if the baby cries a lot.
- Always protect a baby’s head, even in an emergency, ie if the baby appears to have stopped breathing, don’t shake it. Doctors advise stimulating the baby and seek medical help as a matter of urgency via 999. Always pick the baby up ensuring the head and neck is well supported.
Midwives and Health Visitors can provide support to parents with babies under six months and have the following information to help them with practical tips about how to respond when their baby cries for long periods, doesn't sleep or settle:
The DDSCP multi-agency Prevention of Non-Accidental Head Injury in Infancy Guidance has been developed to help reduce the incidence of ‘shaken baby’ syndrome. You can also access the NSPCC Coping with Crying - helping parents soothe their crying baby webpage.
Safe storage of harmful substances
If a child swallows Methadone, other medication, drugs or alcohol they could be seriously harmed or die.
- Lock all medications/drugs/alcohol away from children; don’t keep Methadone in the fridge.
- Before getting rid of empty Methadone bottles, rinse it with water.
- Teach children not to eat or drink anything that is unfamiliar.
- Do not ever give children another person’s medication.
- Needles and injecting equipment must be stored safely.
- Take old and unwanted medicines to a pharmacy.
Information about drug and alcohol services for family members is available on Derby Drug and Alcohol Services and includes how to obtain advice and support, including safer storage.
Derby City Council has also published drug and alcohol safety advice leaflets:
Safety around pets
Never leave a baby or young child unsupervised with a dog, even for a moment, no matter how well you know the dog.
The DDSCP have published Safeguarding Children from Dangerous Dogs Guidance to help practitioner's work with families to help prevent dog bites and attacks.
Safety in the community
The Think! website has a large range of information about road safety for children, young people, parents and professionals.
Crime and safety information
Information for parents, young people and professionals about general crime and safety awareness can be found on the Fearless and the Derbyshire Constabulary websites.