By Raising Children Network
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Preschoolers want to climb higher, run faster, and jump from greater heights. Your preschooler needs to be kept safe both inside and outside while he experiments with his boundless new abilities.

Young boy wearing floaties
 

What to expect

Your child is getting older and more confident, but it’s still important to keep a close eye on her.

The good news is that you can teach preschoolers more about safety than you can with younger children. For example, you can reinforce existing safety messages and teach your child about new issues, such as road safety and what to do in an emergency.

But even with your child’s impressive new learning, he still relies on you to keep him safe at all times.

Outdoor safety

Playgrounds
The chance of a playground injury is greater for preschool and school-age children, because they’re still developing body strength and judgment skills. Falls are the most common injury.

Here are some helpful safety guidelines:

  • The safest equipment for children aged 3-5 years is less than 1.5 m high (no taller than the average woman).
  • Look for spaces that give your child room to run, cartwheel, jump and climb.
  • Try to watch your child at all times, and stand nearby if he’s trying a daring new feat.

You might like to read more about playground safety.

Things with wheels
Wheels can be tricky to master, but these tips can help your child avoid bumps and bruises:

  • Lots of practice in a safe area will build up your child’s confidence. Find a safe area such as your backyard or a park so she can learn how to ride bikes, scooters and other wheeled toys.
  • Falls are part of the wheels deal. Well-fitting protective gear for bikes, skateboards and rollerblades (helmet, kneepads, elbow guards) can reduce the risk of serious injury for your preschooler.
  • You can read more about teaching your child how to stay safe on wheels.

Water
Your preschooler just loves water – playing in it, rolling in it and scooping it. To help your child stay safe around pools, you can take the following precautions:

  • Always stay with your child when he’s in or near the water, even if he can swim.
  • Drowning can take less than a minute and is silent. Keep an eye on your child at all times around water.
  • Teach your child the basics of swimming and rules for swimming safely. For example, say to your child, ‘Never go into the pool without telling me’.
  • Swim between the flags when at the beach.
Check out our illustrated guide to child CPR. You could print it out and stick it somewhere handy, like the fridge.

Safety at home

The world is your preschooler’s playground, including the inside of your house! To help your child stay safe indoors, you might think about these ideas:

  • Make sure your furniture is secure enough to withstand your child’s weight. Attach wobbly furniture to the wall (so it can’t fall on top of your child), or remove it.
  • Sharp corners can cause a nasty accident. Use corner protectors or clear your sharp furniture from areas where children run.
  • Athletic and curious preschoolers love to climb. Keep second-storey windows locked or shield them with secure screens so children can’t fall out. Remove chairs and pot plants that can be used to climb on. Block off access to balcony areas.
  • Store medicines, chemical sprays and household cleaners in child-resistant containers. Keep them in locked cupboards high out of reach. Preschoolers love gadgets that squirt (like water pistols), so be sure to keep pump-action bottles out of reach when you’re cleaning.
  • Avoid storing detergents, paint thinners and other hazardous liquids in empty soft drink or juice bottles. Your child might think she’s found something nice to drink. You can read more about how to prevent poisoning.
  • To prevent burns and scalds, keep guards around fires and heaters. Use the backburners on the stove, and turn pan handles towards the back of the stove. Keep kettles, teapots and cords for electric kettles and pans up on the bench, out of reach. Also, if you keep sending the message that the oven, iron and other objects are hot, your child might learn to stay away.
  • Avoid bunk beds until your child is nine or so. If you do have bunks, try to make sure younger children don’t climb up – they can easily fall.
  • Encourage your child to sit while eating – at a table or even on the floor is fine. Children are more likely to choke if they eat while running around or playing.
  • Nuts can choke a child. It’s usually not safe for children to eat nuts until they’re five, and they shouldn’t eat them at all if they have an allergy. 

Cars and road safety

Now’s the time to help your child start building a lifetime of safe car habits.

Safety rule number one is to buckle up:

  • Australian law now requires that all children under seven must use an age-appropriate child restraint whenever they’re in the car.
  • Children six months and under must sit in a rear-facing baby seat or capsule.
  • Children between six months and four years can use either a rearward-facing or forward-facing child seat.
  • Children aged 4-7 years can use a forward-facing seat or a booster seat.
  • Always use a car restraint that meets Australian standards.

Here are more important car and pedestrian safety tips:

  • Your car is an oven on wheels, and children can overheat very quickly if left inside. So never leave your child unattended in the car. If you have to duck into the shops, take your child with you. You might like to read more tips on car safety.
  • When you’re around roads, footpaths and carparks, always hold your child’s hand. Until the age of about 10, children aren’t able to keep themselves safe around traffic.
  • Kids do as you do, and they learn by example. So you can teach your child about pedestrian safety by always crossing at the lights or zebra crossing.

Stranger danger

As your preschooler’s world expands, there’ll be times when you won’t be there to keep him safe – for example, when he’s at preschool or a friend’s birthday party. Let him know that if you’re running late to pick him up, he should stay in a safe area, such as the preschool playground, until you arrive. It’s important he understands ‘stranger danger’ so he can stay safe, even when you’re not around.

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  • Newsletter snippet: Preschooler safety: in a nutshell

    By Raising Children Network

    With their boundless energy, preschoolers love to run, climb and crawl. They can learn simple safety rules, but they still need your guidance and attention.

    Outdoor safety

    • Playgrounds are fun but the risk of falling is real, so watch your child at all times.
    • Dress your preschooler in well-fitting protective gear when bikes, skateboards, rollerblades or other toys with wheels are involved.
    • Always watch your child when he’s playing in or with water.
    • Use a child restraint or booster seat in the car.
    • Never leave your child alone in the car.
    • Hold hands when crossing a road or car park.
    • Always cross at the lights.
    • Teach your preschooler about ‘stranger danger’.

    Safety at home

    • Secure wobbly furniture.
    • Use corner protectors on sharp furniture.
    • Secure windows or balconies.
    • Store medicines, cleaners and chemicals out of reach.
    • Keep your preschooler away from hot surfaces.

    This article is an extract only. For more information, visit raisingchildren.net.au/safety/preschoolers_safety.html.

    Sourced from the Raising Children Network's comprehensive and quality-assured Australian parenting website www.raisingchildren.net.au.


 
 
 
  • Last Updated 03-08-2011
  • Last Reviewed 31-05-2010