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A Minute of Inattention - a Lifetime of Regret
Children rarely see the dangers - adults always should

This article turned out to be rather longer than I imagined; but if you have children, or care for them at any time, please read on - it may prove to be a life saver.

It could be said that the early years of childhood are times of wonder and discovery. They are that certainly; but there are dangers lurking around every corner; on every shelf; in every cupboard. The problem is that littlies are endowed with boundless curiosity because this is how they learn. Whatever is seen and is available has to be investigated; and, make no mistake, they have eagle eyes that watch parents and carers going about their daily chores, maybe even taking pills and medication.

Grown-ups should be aware that anything they do will likely be copied at some stage by the smallest member of the family; and this can have dire consequences. A simple example is the standard toaster. They see mum putting a couple of slices of bread into it and, bingo, in minutes up pops the toast. In the old days, to a child the VCR looked similar and they'd seen things being pushed into the slot at the front. So, they reasoned, why not try it with their sandwich and have a toasted one? The consequences were probably just inconvenient and financial for the adults, and fairly harmless for the child; unless, that is, they decided to try extracting the bread with some metal object like a paper knife that had been left lying about. If electrocution is the result, we all know who is to blame. The same danger is present with anything electrical, be it an appliance or simply a wall socket. Here is something else you push things into. Big people do it, so why not give it a go?

Young children employ taste as a major sampling aid; so generally, anything new they come across goes straight to the mouth so that they can try it out. Toys come with warnings on wrappers and packets stating clearly that some are not recommended for those under a certain age. Usually this is because they have small parts that could be removed and swallowed. Electronic toys are very popular, and the battery-operated ones would seem to be fairly safe. They probably are, until the battery cover becomes detached. It might happen inadvertently when the toy is dropped; or in some cases the curious child may attempt to deliberately remove the cover. Once off, the batteries are exposed. The flat, hearing-aid type look just like sweets and are easily swallowed; and even the bigger AA and AAA are tempting to try. These things are not like your average foreign object which can pass through the body's system in a day or two without serious consequences. Batteries are corrosive, poisonous, and can be deadly if ingested.

We have seen instances of young children climbing up a heavy piece of furniture like a wooden chest and using the opened drawers as a step-ladder. In more than one case the result was that the child's weight shifted the centre of gravity of the chest which tipped over, right on top of the kid. Another situation involved a TV sitting on what was assumed to be a high spot out of a child's reach. Not so for the inventive kid who made use of a handy stool and eventually toppled the monitor.

All too often our evening news reports on a child's terrible injuries, sometimes death; and all because someone climbed into a car and reversed over a little one playing on the driveway. The youngster wasn't visible in the mirrors; and we as viewers were left to puzzle why any child was allowed to play in such a dangerous area unsupervised; and also why nobody thought to check that the child was out of harm's way. The devastated parents of these tragedies then pleaded with others not to make the same mistake they did. The fact that similar incidents continue to occur would suggest that the message isn't getting through to some.

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