COVID-19: children’s nurses must advise families on preventing household accidents – RCN

College says increased time at home raises risk of fatal incidents

Falls are one of the top five serious preventable accidents. Picture: iStock

Children’s nurses in the community should have telephone or video conversations with families to remind them of the heightened risk of household accidents, the RCN has advised.

The college decided to issue guidance due to families having to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Risk to children ‘left unsupervised for even a minute’

Fiona Smith. Picture: David Gee

RCN professional lead for children and young people's nursing, Fiona Smith, urged nurses to use telephone or video communication to help prevent harm.

‘Parents will have much to worry about, but it’s important not to forget the many risks in the household if children are left unsupervised for even a minute,’ she said.

Ms Smith added that, in recent years, several children and toddlers have died in the UK due to preventable household accidents.

Nurses should refresh their knowledge of harm prevention

‘Due to public health concerns, nurses who work with children and families in the community will not be able to visit in person to remind people of the risks – but they remain very real,’ she said.

‘Nursing staff should, however, keep in contact by phone or video calls, and should remind themselves of any relevant literature on preventing serious harm as people are told to remain indoors for many more weeks.’

Five main preventable accidents

The Child Accident Prevention Trust says 90% of the most serious preventable accidents among children under five years of age fall into the following areas:

  • Threats to breathing – choking, strangulation or suffocation
  • Falls
  • Poisoning
  • Burns and scalds
  • Drowning

Advice on making blind cords child-safe

A spokesperson for the Institute of Health Visiting said there was an increased risk of strangulation due to blind cords and chains given the current stay-at-home policy, and said it was vital to keep them out of reach of small children.

‘If possible, install a blind that does not have a cord,’ they said.

‘Never cut blind cords yourself to shorten them [because they could become tangled, resulting in the formation of a new loop], but use a cord tidy or cleat to keep them out of your child’s reach.’

Further information

In other news