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Each year, more than a million children are taken to Accident and Emergency, their GP or an urgent care centre as a result of an accident, with around 40,000 children under five being admitted to hospital.

Of course children are naturally curious, so some minor accidents (such as trips and falls as your child learns to walk) are an inevitable part of life. But as a parent or carer, you’ll naturally want to look out for any potential risks and do your best to prevent accidents from happening.

Childhood accidents include falling, choking, head injuries, cuts, drowning, poisoning and ingestion or strangulation, and each stage in a child’s development presents different risks. Your child’s personal child health record (Red Book) has specific advice for each stage.

First aid

It’s a good idea to keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and in your car. Use a sturdy box which is large enough to put bottle of medicine in. The box should be easily identifiable as the first aid kit so that it’s handy for adults but kept out of the reach of young children. You can find a list of the essentials to include in this here.

If you want to attend a first aid course, you can find details on the British Red Cross website (or by calling 0845 527 7743) or the St John Ambulance website.

What to do if your baby’s unresponsive

A baby who’s not breathing is a frightening prospect. St John Ambulance have made this supportive video to show you how to give baby CPR.

You can find further step-by-step advice here.

Choking

Babies and young children like to put things in their mouths, so could easily swallow small objects such as buttons, plastic toys or button batteries.

Prevention is key, so get down to your child’s level to check what they can see and reach. You’ll also need to do this when you visit new places. Once they’ve moved on to solid foods, make sure you supervise their eating, being careful to cut up foods like grapes to reduce the risks of choking too.

For what to do if your baby’s choking, take a look at this video from St John Ambulance:

The Child Prevention Accident Trust also has lots of advice to prevent choking and other accidents.

Button batteries

There’s been a lot in the media recently about the risks posed by button batteries – the small round batteries that are found in objects such as remote controls, smart watches and toys. Button batteries can be extremely dangerous for children if swallowed or inserted into an ear.

Magnets

Small powerful magnets are sometimes sold as toys, decorative items and fake piercings, and are becoming increasingly popular. They may also be found in some puzzles or craft items. Unlike traditional magnets, these ‘super strong’ magnets are small in volume (so can be easily swallowed) and powerful in magnetism.

This is extremely dangerous because if more than one ‘super strong’ magnet is swallowed separately, or a ‘super strong’ magnet is swallowed with a metallic object, they can be strongly attracted together from different parts of the intestines. This compression of bowel tissue can cause damage to the intestines and/or blood vessels within hours, causing serious damage and sometimes death.

Urgent assessment and treatment is vital. If you suspect that your child has swallowed one or more magnets, go straight to A&E or dial 999.

If you have small powerful magnets in your home, or products containing magnets, always keep them away from children. Make sure that older children are aware of the dangers of using magnets as jewellery products or as fake tongue or facial piercings.

More information about ‘super strong magnets’ can be found here.

Useful links

Page last reviewed: 19-10-2020

Next review due: 19-10-2023