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

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, burns, 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. This list is not extensive, please see CAPT and ROSPA for further advice on preventing accidents.

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, with a child-safe lock, which is large enough to put bottle of medicine in. Always check medicine expiry dates before use.

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.

This video was not produced by Health for Under 5’s and may contain adverts.

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


Babies and young children like to put things in their mouths, so could easily swallow small objects such as buttons, pen lids, plastic toys, animal biscuits 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:

This video was not produced by Health for Under 5’s and may contain adverts.

Click here for more advice on what to do if a baby is choking.

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


To reduce the risk of burns and scalds at home, there are some small changes you can make:

  • Keep young children out of the kitchen when you’re busy or there are lots of people around
  • Check pan handles on the hob aren’t sticking out where they could be reached or knocked off
  • Make sure you put hot drinks down on a surface out of reach of small hands, not on top of tea towels that could be pulled by a child
  • When running a bath for your child, always put the cold water in first. This will prevent scald burns if they accidentally fall in, as well as contact burns from the actual heat of the bathtub. Never leave your child unattended in the bathroom.

For more advice on burns, including first aid, click here.

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.


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.


Super strong magnets Super strong magnets

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


Babies and toddlers like to explore their environments by putting things in their mouths, so it’s important to always keep harmful substances out of their reach such as:

  • Medicines
  • Detergent capsules and concentrated liquids/chemicals
  • Garden chemicals
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco and e-cigarette liquid
  • Perfumes and aromatherapy oils

This list is not exhaustive, for more information on preventing poisoning click here.

Falls from open windows

Keeping windows open is a great way to let some fresh air into your home, but each day one child under five years old is admitted to hospital after falling from one.

Young children are susceptible to falls from height because:

  • They are naturally curious and do not yet have a full understanding of danger
  • They develop quickly, and can catch parents off guard by climbing and opening windows and doors
  • Accidents can happen quickly when a parent’s back is turned
  • Their heads are proportionally much larger than adults and older children, giving them a different centre of gravity. This means that a fall from a height is likely to impact the head

Preventing falls from windows

If you can, move furniture away from windows so that it’s more difficult for your child to climb up. For older children, you can also warn them of the dangers of climbing.

Fit window latches, locks or restrictors to prevent windows opening too wide. Safety equipment is available for all types of windows.

If you decide to fit a latch with a lock, remember to keep the keys in an easy to access place in case of fire. You can read more about fire safety here.

Read more about preventing falls here.


A drowning child will not be able to speak, shout or control their arms to splash. This makes it impossible for them to alert anyone else that they are drowning.

When at home, babies and toddlers are most likely to drown in the bath or in bodies of water such as a garden pond or paddling pool. Babies can drown in as little as 2cm of water, so it’s really important to supervise them at all times near any water hazards.

Never leave your young child unsupervised in the bath, not even for a moment. You’ll need to supervise your child at all times, even if they have a bath seat – these seats are easy to slip out of. Get everything you need ready in the bathroom before bathing your child, as you will need to stay with them. Do not rely on other children to supervise a baby or young child in the bath or near water.

Preventing drowning outdoors

Cover, fence off or drain a garden pond if you have young children, and make sure any neighbouring ponds or bodies of water can’t be accessed. When visiting other locations, be alert to water hazards and plan carefully when taking your child outdoors.

If you’re using a paddling pool, supervise your child at all times, and be sure to completely empty it after use.


Modern electrical sockets are designed to keep children safe from shocks, but children playing with wiring and appliances can cause burns and house fires.

Keep potentially dangerous devices out of young children’s reach and away from water. For example:

  • Electrical devices such as hairdryers, straighteners and mains-operated radios should be kept out of the bathroom.
  • Plug sockets should not be overloaded. Be aware not just of how many plugs are going into one socket, but also how much power they are using. Kettles and irons use more power than lamps and even TVs.
  • Ensure device chargers are unplugged and safely stowed away when not in use.
  • Older electrical appliances can cause house fires. Check plugs, sockets and wires for scorching or fraying. If there’s a problem, use a registered electrician to fix them.

Warn your children to keep away from plug socket outlets until they are capable of understanding the risks and are able to use them safely. 13-amp power sockets made to BS 1363 incorporate a shutter mechanism, which prevents inappropriate access to the live connectors. It is therefore not necessary to use socket covers on these sockets.

If you have a fireplace surround, ensure it has been fitted by a professional. Unstable fire surrounds can topple and cause injury or death due to their weight.

Learn more about reducing the risks of fire here.

View a transcript of this video here.

Useful links

Page last reviewed: 16-04-2024

Next review due: 16-04-2027