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Ways to make your home safer for your children

General Home Safety Strategies

The level of intervention will always depend upon the comprehension / learning needs of the child.

Ensure that you:

The bottom line is, be vigilant. No environment is risk free, but risks can be reduced.
Even once you have ‘safety-proofed’ your home, children with additional needs often continue to
need supervision when exploring their environments, to support their safe learning and

We do not recommend specific companies for safety proofing, but some well-established
providers who provide inexpensive solutions that you may wish to research include:


If you are unsure as to how to fit any safety equipment, please contact your local ‘handyman’ service
that may be able to assist you to fit this safely and appropriately.

If you live in privately rented, Council or Housing Association property, always ensure that you have
gained the property owners’ permission prior to making alterations (e.g. window restrictors, stair
gates, gas isolations taps, door locks).

Hazard areaPotential RisksStrategies
LightsPulling down fixturesReplacing dangling lights with flush light fittings as much as possible.
Ensuring the use of energy saving bulbs which do not produce as much heat, to reduce the risk of burns.
Electric sockets/cablesFingers in plug socketsPlug socket covers.
Installation of a key operated socket.
Chewing through cablesHide/cover cables with cable tubes.
Provide safe alternatives i.e. chewable or ‘chewlery’ sensory
WindowsAbsconding via windowsKeep lockable windows locked in either the closed or cracked open position.
Remove items from beneath windows that may be climbed on to access the window.
Window restrictors (depending upon the type of window you have, choose the appropriate restrictor) e.g. cable style, concealed key
locking metal style, swivel/stud style, folding style.
Smashing windowsMost modern windows are fitted with shatterproof glass. If yours are not, consider safety film across the pane of glass to hold the broken glass together (
Consider whether film needs to be anti-glare – filters out UV light;
useful for those who are light sensitive
Same can be used across internal doors with glass panels.
DoorsFingers trapped in door frameFinger guards fitted on doorways; completely covering the area
between door and the hinge when the door is open.
Falling against the inside of
the door – carer unable to
open from outside
Fit 180⁰ hinges; door can swing inwards and outwards.
BlindsInjury from cords on blindsReplace with cordless, spring loaded blinds if possible.
Install cord stops to limit the movement of inner cords on blinds and shades.
All blind cords should also have a child-proof break, which will snap
open to remove the risk of strangulation.
Keep cords out of reach – hooked up onto the wall out of the reach
of children – and on a short setting.
Move furniture and climbable surfaces away from windows

Children with limited danger awareness and history of unsafe behaviours within the kitchen should be
closely supervised when spending time in this room.

KitchenInappropriate use of electrical
Plug socket covers.
Installation of a key operated socket.
Desire to boil the kettle and
pour from this
Close supervision.
If your child has good upper limb strength and can pour safely from
the kettle with supervision.
Do not fill the kettle with more water
than needed for food/drink being prepared, to reduce overspill.
Opening the washing machine
when on / tampering with
Most modern washing machines have an inbuilt automatic child lock when the cycle is on.
If your machine does not have this feature, lock the child out of the kitchen when the washing machine is on by either locking the door or installing a child safety gate of appropriate height to prevent them climbing over.
Covering dials with oven knob covers.
Consider only putting this appliance on once your child has gone to bed.
Tampering with oven knobsCovering knobs with covers/guards.
If you have a gas hob, consider installing a lockable gas-pipe valve; usually key operated.
If this is an electric oven and the child does it in order to watch the digital numbers change, provide them with a small digital clock of their own to play with.
Burning hands on electric hobsElectro-magnetic energy heats an Induction Hob – pan gets hot but the hob surface does not. See local kitchen suppliers – two rings roughly £200, 4 rings roughly £300.
Turning on sink tapsFlood prevention plug. Fits inside the sink and prevents overflow risk.
Fit a stopcock to sinks / baths / toilet pipework to cut water supply (for example, do this during the night time). Turn on/off with the flick of a switch.
Opening cupboard/drawer or fridge doors to access excess food or potentially dangerous items (sharp objects and cleaning chemicals/washing
Keep cleaning products and harmful chemicals out of the stretch reach of little legs and arms.
Install child locks on cupboard doors / drawers containing hazardous chemicals and sharp objects; magnetic style prevents tampering for little Houdini’s!
Family RoomOpen fireTall fire guard.
If the child enjoys staring at the flames closely, provide an alternative slow-moving visual, for example lava lamp, fish tank, images of fish or fire on electronic tablet or TVs, snow globes etc.
Tripping over rugs Fit rug grip material beneath the rug (widely available online and in DIY stores).
Pulling over furniture and/or the TVAnti-tip furniture straps (attach to furniture and wall to fix in place). Widely available from DIY stores
Opening cupboards with
potentially dangerous items in
(e.g. alcohol/glass/letter
In the first instance, keep these out of reach.
If this is not possible, install child locks on cupboard doors containing these items (e.g. magnetic style to prevent tampering).
Hitting/smashing the tv screenTV shatterproof screen protectors.
Pulling the television off the
wall / tipping it over
Consider mounting the tv in a television cabinet (see
Absconding via the front door:
Access in and out
Security measures
Supervision level (awake,
asleep and escorted)
Prior to fitting anything extra, Ring Devon Fire Service – they will visit your home for free and provide advice as to where you can fit extra locks in relation to fire safety and escape route access.
Ensure that fire and carbon monoxide alarms are regularly checked and batteries replaced as necessary.
Fit a chain or bolt lock high up, out of the child’s reach. Keep the chain done up and the door locked.
If you do not have a chain and do not want to fit one, fit a cable window/door restrictor
If you have a key lock, key to be kept out of reach of the child. The key could be kept in a key safe next to the inside of the front door
Alternatively, keep the key in situ and cover with a key guard.

If these strategies have all been tried and not worked, it may be appropriate for OT to become involved to consider higher level interventions such as telecare PIR door sensors / safety gates to restrict access to the front door.
StairsTripping/slipping/falling (due
to physical/medical need)
Bannisters on both sides of the stairs – encourage to hold both.
Physiotherapist assessment for safe stair mobility.
Close adult supervision.
Regular Optician checks.
Referral to ROVIC professional (Registered Officer for Visually Impaired Children) if appropriate.
Tripping/falling (due to
slippery flooring or clutter
sitting on the stairs)
Ensure stairs are clutter free at all times.
Consider carpeting wooden stairs.
Bannisters on both sides of the stairs – encourage to hold both.
Jumping downstairs / swinging
around bannisters : general
deliberate unsafe behaviours
Encourage gross motor movements in more appropriate
environments (e.g. the park, the garden, soft play areas).
Encourage engagement in calming activities which provide movement, for example yoga.
Encourage engagement in disciplined movements, for example martial arts.
Lack of comprehension of stair
safety (i.e. younger children)
Stair gates can be used for children up to 5 years old.
Climbing over stair gates
already in situ
Remove stair gates when your child begins to attempt climbing them.
Taller stair gates are available, but may be considered as restrictive for older children and should not be used unless there is a clear need for a stair gate as a child gets older.
Bathroom/toiletPlaying with water-running
taps whilst unattended. Burns
or flooding
Supervise young children who have learning needs whilst they are in the bathroom.
Wait outside or by the door / monitor how long your child is in the bathroom – check in with them after a minute or two, depending on how long you expect them to be in the bathroom for.
Burns – turn down the thermostat on your boiler to regulate maximum water temperature. Alternatively, install a tap guard on the hot tap (assess whether this is necessary all day or just at night).
Flood prevention plug to fit inside the sink and prevent overflow risk.
Blocking/flooding the
Monitor bathroom use – is your child using the bathroom frequently, but not to use the toilet?
Only allow access to an amount of toilet roll needed (e.g. one roll maximum during the day and a few sheets ripped off during the night)
Flood prevention plug.
Hazardous chemicals & sharp
In the first instance, keep these out of reach.
If this is not possible, install child locks on cupboard doors containing these items. Again, consider the magnetic type.
Sleep/bedroomWaking during the night and
moving around unsupervised
If your child is able to comprehend and understand risks, clearly explain the risks of this behaviour.
Why is your child awake during the night? Are they trying to meet a need – e.g. getting a drink or using the bathroom? Are they trying to get your attention? Do they experience nightmares? Are they
sensitive to light or noise?
Ensure proper ‘sleep hygiene’ (no electronics within the bedroom, a comfortable temperature, comfortable sleepwear etc)
Ensure that your child has access to a calming, consistent bedtime routine (warm bath, storytime, look at food/drink intake during the evenings)
Getting a drink – ensure a plastic cup or sucky top bottle of water is left within your child’s bedroom at night.
Using the bathroom – if this is frequent during the night, speak with your GP/Nurse and consider a referral to a Specialist Continence Nurse
Sensitive to light – no excess light from outdoor security lights / lampposts / landing light underneath door. Blackout blinds can be useful, consider the impact on lack of sunlight in the morning, which naturally wakes the body up.
Sensitive to sound – No loud noise in the house during bedtime routine and after your child has gone to bed. Consider soundproofing single glazed windows – extra insulation can be fitted (expanding foam insulation, insulating tape and other similar products can be purchased easily from DIY shops).
Ligatures and strangulationCords can get caught on square corners of furniture which, in rare circumstances, can lead to strangulation.
In very unfortunate circumstances, this can be a deliberate act of self-harm.
Cords cannot catch on rounded corners; slipping straight off.
Specialist furniture with rounded corners is available online (for example mirrors, tv cabinets and shelves).
Heating/ventilationRadiators – heat and climbing
If a child uses a radiator as a means to climb, it may be necessary to install a cover over the radiator to prevent it falling off the wall.
Reduce the risk of burning –turn down the thermostat on the radiator
Consider under floor heating.
Open small windows for ventilation or install window restrictors to maintain ventilation.
FireFire alerts, ability to escape
doors & windows
Devon and Somerset Fire Service offer free Home Fire Safety Check. (0800 05 02 999)
The check takes no longer than 5 minutes after which a home fire safety visit may be offered.
The visit takes less than 30 minutes; a free smoke detector can be fitted if required.

Some simple steps to reduce the risk:
1. Fit a working smoke alarm
2. Take care when cooking and never leave cooking food unattended
3. Plan and practise your escape route
4. Make a bedtime check
5. Don’t overload sockets
6. Put cigarettes right out
7. Use candles carefully
8. Have your chimney swept regularl
GardenVarying levels and stepsIf your child has reduced mobility or is unsteady on their feet, consider how they will move between different levels and navigate
Are there hand rails in place?
If there are slippery surfaces (grass or concrete slopes), consider laying safety anti-slip rubbing matting / rubber grass mats
Injury from gardening
Securely lock these away in a shed / suitable cupboard and never leave these unattended.
If your child is helping in the garden, never leave them unsupervised and do not allow them to use heavy, dangerous electrical equipment.
Absconding via the gardenEnsure all fences are properly maintained with no broken/damaged
panels – the property owner is responsible for repairs &
Supervise/keep an eye on young children in the garden
Gate locks should be high up, out of your child’s reach
If objects are climbed upon to abscond, ensure these are in the
middle of the garden, not up against walls/fences
Consider fitting a roller barrier to the top of a fence (
Ponds and paddling poolsAlways closely supervise children around water.
Fencing around or coverings over a pond can reduce the risk of accidents.
If a pond or paddling pool is not in use, drain the water out.
The child puts everything in
their mouth!
Ensure there are no poisonous plants/flowers in the garden or house.
Where possible, remove gravel and small stones from the garden.
Be aware of the toxic effects of pesticides / slug pellets / weed killer. Avoid using these where possible.
Slips/trips/cuts when using
play equipment
Remove or quickly repair broken or damaged play equipment.
Supervising children who are consistent risk takers when using play equipment.
Place a net around the trampolines to reduce the risk of falls.
Running into the roadIf it is possible, encourage children to play in a space which is not adjacent to a road.
If not possible, fit a driveway guard block across the driveway as a visual prompt and to prevent balls rolling into the road.
StorageAccessing the shed or garageClose supervision – there is usually no need for a child to access this area.
Padlocks on the shed and keys kept hidden / out of the child’s reach.
Garage kept locked / close supervision – there is usually no need for a child to access this area.
Hazardous chemicals kept high up on shelves out of the child’s reach.