Care & Home Safety
Safety, Mobility & Equipment
Making your home safe is important, especially if you are caring for a child with additional needs. For all homes it is recommended that you fit smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire guards, but there are other products that can help make your home a safer place to live. These include, window locks, door ajar clips, window and door alarms and cupboard and appliance locks. With a combination of products, you can help secure kitchen cupboards and drawers, as well as preventing accidents and falls. Many children find plugs sockets and switches fascinating so don’t forget your plug socket and switch covers.
When you are out with your family, there are adapted products which can make your journey easier. These include strong walking reins for larger children and even adults as well as backpacks with a handy detachable rein. Portable changing mats and a radar key are also handy must haves for holidays and days out.
COMMON ISSUES & SOLUTIONS
Making a house and garden safe for your children is important for any family. There is a range of safety equipment which can help and although you would need to still supervise your child, these can make life easier – especially for those caring for a family member with special needs.
For all homes it is recommended that you fit smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire guards if you have an open fire or gas fire.
Information relating to safety advice in the home can be found at;
The London Fire Brigade
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Safety Equipment for the Home
Window locks will prevent the window from being opened or opened too wide. This will stop someone from being able to get out of the window, preventing falls and accidents. Some modern windows will incorporate locks and devices to prevent the window from being opened too wide but in many cases you may need to look into getting locks that will fit your windows. The range of locks and window restrictor arms, suitable for wood or PVC frames, on the market is wide. You will need to research which locks would be best for you, most DIY stores will have a good range and they should be able to advise you on the available products.
• Because nearly all the locks have keys you would need to keep the key safe and available to use at all times as you may need to use the windows as an exit in case of an emergency - such as fire.
• If you are living in rented accommodation you may need to check with your landlord if you can make alterations. If you have a Housing Associations or Council property you should contact them regarding making changes that will make you home safe for your family and child.
Cupboard Locks can be essential for preventing someone getting access to harmful household products and equipment - as well as restricting access to food and drink. You should think carefully about the best place to store kitchen and bathroom products such as bleach and cleaning products. These should always be kept in a safe place, out of reach of children and those with special needs, as they may not be able to recognise the dangers of these potentially harmful products.
Food can also be a temptation. Some people with autism or a sensory processing disorder for example may not be able to regulate their diet and will be seeking food constantly or at inappropriate times of the day or night. Keeping food cupboard locked can help.
As with the window locks there are different types of cupboard lock. These range from magnetic locks, flexi locks for cupboards with handles, locks designed for drawers and locks for sliding doors and windows. This all can be a bit confusing so it is worthwhile thinking about the type of lock you need and how it would be fitted. Some locks attach to the doors with adhesive pads which means you won’t need any tools to fit them. However, if you have a child or adult who is particularly strong or ambitious, they may be able to force these locks open.
Magnetic locks may be stronger but you would usually need to fit the lock mechanism to the concealed side of the door or drawer. This would mean making holes and fixing the lock to the door with screws. The advantage is that the lock is concealed, the door or drawer being opened with the magnetic key.
We advise that you look in to the options available before choosing the best lock for you. Many DIY stores and online retailers have a range to choose from and should be able to give you advice.
Appliance Locks are available to help secure shut domestic appliances such as fridges and freezers, tumble driers and some work on ovens doors. These are usually fitted without screws, relying on adhesive pads instead so that they do not damage the appliance.
There are also clips that fit around oven knobs so that the hob or oven cannot be switched on.
Door locks – You may think it would be easier to put a lock on the kitchen door so that access is limited to the times that you can supervise in the kitchen. However, fitting internal locks in your home can present problems with safety. If for example one of the access routes out of the house is through the kitchen it would be unsafe to keep the kitchen door locked, especially if there was a fire. Whereas it might be fine to lock the cupboard under the stairs to keep the fuse box and meters from being tampered with, it is not safe to block access and escape routes in case of emergency.
Door Clips - these clips are designed so that they keep an internal door in the ajar position. There is usually a bracket that needs to be screwed into the door frame, and the clips have a quick release mechanism so that adults can release the door. By keeping the door in the ajar position a parent or carer can maintain communication with the person on the other side in the next room. The disadvantage is that the door, once the bracket is fitted might not close fully, depending on the model. These are not suited for external doors.
Door and Window Alarms – these alarms can give peace of mind to a family or carer if they are worried that a relative is likely to wander, especially useful at night. They are usually fitted to a door or window frame and will sound an alarm if they are opened. Some versions are wireless and send a signal to a receiver unit/pager, letting the carer know that a door or window has been opened.
Wander Alarms – in a similar way to the door and window alarms these systems let the carer know if someone is up and about, which can be helpful at night. The alarm could let the carer know for instance, if the child or adult is up and trying to use the toilet or go down stairs. There are a lot of different versions and price brackets. Some fit to doors and windows and send a signal to the carer when they have been opened. Other might have a sensor pressure pad, put beside a bed or across the threshold that will trigger when it is stood on while other might alarm if the child or adult rises from their bed. More comprehensive systems might combine all of these elements.
There are a lot of suppliers of these, catering for a wide spectrum of the community as well as children with special needs. If you are considering a wander alarm, it would be worth while researching what is available before getting one, as the prices can vary a lot.
Tap Straps – these are a fairly simple device that fits over the tap and prevents them from being turned on, useful if a child or adult has a fascination with water. They can be used in basins and baths but they are only suitable for cross head straps.
Grab rails and bars – these are good for those who may have limited mobility, positioned correctly they can be placed around a bath to help with standing, sitting and getting in and out of the bath. They can also be used around the toilet.
Light switch and socket covers – plastic covers that fit around sockets and light switch covers so that they cannot be turned on or off. They stop sockets and switches from being tampered, preventing injury by electrocution. There are different versions, some have a push mechanism to open them, while others have a key. They usually have a gap at the bottom to allow the flex of an appliance to go through so that it can be used while the cover is in place. Single and double socket types available. They are usually fitted by unscrewing the socket/light switch plate and fitting the cover behind it, then retightening the plate – please turn off the power supply while fitting.
Covers can also be purchased for thermostats and controllers – see SSP Direct: http://www.securitysafetyproducts.co.uk/security/protective-covers-cages/clearstop-locking-cooker-and-electric-switch-cover-ideal-for-alzheimers-and-dementia-care-applications.php
Glass Safety film – this film is designed hold the glass of a window in one piece should it be broken. Stops the glass from shattering which reduces the risk of injury. Usually comes in rolls that can be cut to size to fit the windows.
For many families caring for a child or relative with special needs, furniture that is not easily broken is essential. For some people who are on the autistic spectrum or who present with challenging behaviour, a safe home environment is important. Furniture, such as beds and cupboards, which are durable and safe can make a big difference for families.
There are manufacturers who supply furniture which is designed to be robust. This includes beds, cupboards, wardrobes, tables, seating and desks. They may also offer a bespoke service. This type of furniture can be expensive so you might want to consider applying for a grant or funding to help purchase the items your family needs.
Suppliers and Manufacturers
Fledglings cannot recommend one supplier over another, there are other furniture manufacturers who may supply similar products. We recommended that you research further before choosing the best products for you.
Tough Furniture – Tough Furniture make and design tough furniture for families and organisations. They have a wide range of furniture, designed to withstand challenging behaviours and for those who need more robust and hard wearing products. They also offer a bespoke and design service.
Tel: 01588 674340
Fax: 01588 674341
Pineapple Contracts Ltd – Pineapple make a wide range of furniture and products which are designed for an environment where durable furniture is needed.
Tel: 01622 237830
There are different types of Epilepsy, they do all however have common feature – seizures that originate in the brain. Epilepsy is usually recognised after one or more fits have occurred and can affect all groups and age ranges in society.
Epilepsy can vary from person to person, some may find that they require some extra help keeping safe. You may need an assessment from your local social services to ascertain the risks in your home. These are usually carried out by an Occupational Therapist. They may recommend a Community alarm system for the home or a seizure alert alarm. There is a range of epilepsy alarms available, from bed sensors, personal wrist sensors and fall alarms. Again you would need to research the most appropriate alarm for you and seek advice from your healthcare professional.
The Disabled Living Foundation contains independent information about available fall and seizure alarms;
Helpline: 0300 999 0004
For children with epilepsy there are two organizations which may be able to provide a free alarm or grants for equipment. This would be dependent on an assessment or recommendation from a healthcare professional. There is usually a waiting list for the alarms and they are mainly given to those children who have severe or uncontrolled epilepsy.
The Daisy Garland
01803 847 999
The Muir Maxwell Trust
0131 273 5256
Other suppliers of seizure alarms include;
NB: Fledglings does not recommend one company in preference to another, there are other providers available. Please research for other suppliers.
SAFETY HELMETS/PROTECTIVE HEADGEAR
Rigid skull protector
G & S Smirthwaite
01626 835 552
Specialized protective helmets in two designs
07778 986 405
Protective hats for infants
Telephone: 01622 858 502
For further information about epilepsy we have put some links to relevant organisations below. Please be aware that it is not a comprehensive list and we advise that you also do your own research on organisations and local groups in your area which may be able to offer further information.
The Epilepsy Society
Helpline: 01494 601400
Enquiries: 01494 601300
Helpline: 0808 800 5050
Phone: 0113 210 8800 (UK) or +44 (0)113 210 8800 (international)
Fax: 0113 391 0300 (UK) or +44 (0)113 391 0300 (international)
Contact: 01342 832243
Helpline: 01342 831342
Telephone: 020 8747 5024
Muir Maxwell Trust for Children and Families
Support for children with epilepsy and their families
Contact: 0131 273 5256
Stair gates can be an essential piece of safety equipment for those with young children or a child with special needs. They can prevent accidents on the stairs or stop a child entering a hazardous space such as a kitchen – especially when food is being prepared or cooked. For a family looking after a child with additional needs they can be a vital element in keeping the home safe.
There is a wide range of stair and safety gates available. When choosing one it is important to think about the size you need and if the gate will fit the space it is intended for. Some families will be looking for a taller gate as a child gets older or need maybe they will need extender bars to make the gate fit a wider space (some brands come with extenders as an option, others don’t) It would be a good idea to take some accurate measurements and look at the various gates carefully to see if the fittings will be appropriate and easy for you to fit.
Higher stair/safety gates are available. These are often requested by families as a child gets older. Sometimes they are marketed as ‘pet’ gates, designed to keep pets away from the family areas of the house and separate them from younger family members and children. Be aware that these are might not be specifically designed with children in mind.
There are a few things to consider if you are thinking of using a safety/stair gate.
• Even though you have a stair or safety gate fitted, the child or person with additional needs should not be left unattended.
• Children can often work out how to open the gates or learn to clamber over them, especially as they get older or if they are particularly active. Again supervision is recommended.
• Particular care should be taken at night. If a stair gate is used to prevent a child going down stairs at night be aware that there remains a risk that they could still work out how to get through the gate and fall. A sensor alarm may help here to alert the carer that the child is out of their room.
• Barriers or internal doors in the home should not be locked. In the event of a fire or flood it is essential that access routes out of the house or home are not permanently secured.
Higher Safety gates
Often taller safety gates are designed to separate children and family members from pets. Pet gates can be a good option for families. Please see below for links to suppliers;
Please find below links to supplier of taller stair gates
Baby Dan extra tall pressure gate and flex gate
BabyDan - http://www.babydan.com/
Some of our families have used a pet gate - Pets at Home
There are other versions available, please note Fledglings does not recommend one product over another.
Please note: check the gate will fit the space it is intended for, always measure and ask the supplier or manufacturer for advice if you are not sure.