Guarding children against trips and falls

Every year many children aged under 15 need to go to hospital with injuries caused by falling at home or in the garden. Some injuries have long lasting effects. You can do safety checks to help your child avoid a serious injury.

Safety tips in the home

  • bunk and cabin beds are not suitable for children under six – if you do have bunk or cabin beds, teach your child never to play on the top bunk
  • use safety glass in glass doors and windows or cover the panes with safety film – this will stop children being seriously cut if they trip or fall into the glass
  • Glass and Glazing Federation website
  • Safe home for me website

Stairs and banisters

  • when your baby starts crawling and until they are 24 months old, fit safety gates which comply to BS EN 1930:2011  to stop them climbing up or falling down stairs
  • accidents happen when young children climb over or through banisters – if gaps are more than 6.5 cm (2.5 inches), cover the gaps with boards or safety netting
  • board up any gaps in horizontal rails as they are easy to climb
  • make sure that stairs are free from clutter like toys or clothes
  • encourage older children not to play on stairs or run up and down them

Windows

  • fit window locks or safety catches to stop windows opening more than 6.5 cm (2.5 inches) – this should stop children being able to squeeze through
  • move furniture like beds and chairs away from windows to stop children climbing up and falling out

Balconies

  • keep younger children away from balconies unless you are with them
  • keep balcony doors locked when not in use
  • to make sure children are safe, there should be a barrier at least 110 cm (43 inches) high around the edge of the balcony
  • if the gaps between the upright railings are more than 6.5 cm (2.5 inches), board them up

Outside

  • encourage children not to climb on roofs or other high areas like sheds and fences
  • put play equipment (like swings and slides) over something soft like well-watered grass or a mat – never over paving, tarmac or concrete
  • if play equipment in playgrounds is old or damaged – or is not over a soft surface, avoid using it
  • encourage children to wear a properly-fitting cycle helmet whenever they ride a bike – both on and off the road
  • Road and travel safety

Babies

Babies have limited mobility but they can still wriggle, kick or roll themselves into dangerous situations. Follow these tips to help keep them safe:

  • don’t leave a baby unattended on any raised surface
  • always change a baby on the floor to reduce the risk of falling
  • if your baby is in a car seat or a bouncing cradle, put it on the floor, not on a high surface
  • remove large cot toys from a baby’s cot once they can sit up or get on all fours, as babies can use toys to climb out of the cot
  • if you carry a baby down stairs, always keep one hand free to use the hand rail – in case you slip or lose your balance
  • never allow a toddler to carry a baby down stairs
  • when securing a baby in a high chair, pram or pushchair, always use a five point harness (two shoulder straps, two hip straps and a crotch strap) and never leave them unattended
  • if you are buying a harness separately, look for one made to British Standard 6684
  • only use baby walkers to British Standard EN 1273:2005 – baby walkers with older standards are less safe
  • never leave a baby alone in a baby walker
  • Standards UK website

In an emergency

If your child has been knocked unconscious in a fall:

  • dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance
  • let the ambulance service know if your child is conscious or unconscious – they will tell you what to do while you are waiting

If your child becomes conscious while you are waiting, tell them to stay as still as possible.

First aid courses

It is a good idea for all parents and carers to learn first aid. For further information on first aid courses, click on the links below.

Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT)

The information on this page is provided by CAPT.

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