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Protection begins at home

It can happen in an instant: they grab the cup, pouring scalding water onto their delicate skin.

It can happen in the blink of an eye. From the moment your child discovers they can pull themselves up to standing and reach things on top of the table… You put your coffee cup down for a second to get the toast out of the toaster and that’s when they grab for the cup pouring scalding water onto their delicate skin. And the screaming begins… and continues… somewhere in the recesses of your mind for the rest of your life.

A baby’s skin is 15 times thinner than an adults’. A hot drink can still scald your child 15 minutes after it has been made – badly enough for them to need skin grafts for months and treatment stretching over a year or more. Accidents with hot drinks are the number one cause of scalds to children, but can so easily be prevented.

Some knocks and bumps of life are an inevitable part of your child’s development and growth. But children are killed, disabled or disfigured from serious accidents. Everyday. The good news is that even small changes – around your home or to your everyday routines – can make big differences to your child’s safety.

There are some really practical things you can do like checking your smoke alarm is working – having a working smoke alarm on every level of your home means you double your chances of getting your family out alive if a fire breaks out at night. Fitting safety locks or catches to cupboard doors or drawers means you can stop your child getting into medicines or poisonous cleaning products – one of the most common causes of visits to hospital. Fitting a cleat hook to tie back your blind or curtain cord can stop your child being strangled – at least one child dies a year as a result of strangulation from curtain cords.

Getting into simple habits like putting your hot drink out of reach can help your child stay safe. Other habits that are worth getting into include using the back rings of the cooker to cook and turning pan handles in, turning the cold water on in the bath first and then topping up with hot – scalds from baths are also a common accident that cause severe scalds because of the delicate nature of young children’s skin. Changing the baby’s nappy on the floor instead of a raised surface prevents falls.

It might take a bit of repetition to make these habits stick, but they’ll soon be second nature and you won’t have to give them a second thought.

Would you like to find out more about stopping your child being seriously hurt by accidents in your home? The Child Accident Prevention Trust’s ‘Parents section’ offers all the information you need to protect your child and stay one step ahead of new risks as they develop and grow. Go to to find out.

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