The Child Safety Specialists

Our Child Safety Blog

MAY 2024 - How do you choose a safety gate?

When your little one starts crawling you may want to consider installing safety gates in various places to prevent access and barrier off key risks in your home.

You can get safety gates or barriers to prevent access to stairs, barrier off fireplaces, sit in door frames to prevent access to kitchens or balconies. Some gates and barriers can stretch over huge distances and some are designed just for doorways. Some are metal, some are wooden, and some are even fabric. 

How on earth do you pick?

Well to start, figure out where you want barriers – What are you trying to prevent access to?

Then measure how wide the space is and keep this measurement in hand when shopping as you will need to check the safety gate is able to cover this width.

It can sometimes be difficult to locate a gate where you really want it, simply due to the layout of your home. Look for alternative locations. Half way along the landing for instance, instead of the top of the stairs, or even on the child’s bedroom door. A single gate at the entrance to the Kitchen can keep a child away from the many dangers present here, such as hot surfaces, sharp objects, finger traps and hot fluids.

If you can, go for a fitted gate. There are two main fixing styles you will see mentioned when shopping. “Fitted/Screw Fit” and “Pressure”. A fitted gate is always much more secure than a pressure gate.

A ‘fitted’ gate requires you to drill into the wall or door frame to secure the gate, whilst the other uses pressure to stay in place. However many ‘pressure’ gates also rely on wall cups which need drilling into the wall so are not true ‘pressure’ gates.

Pressure gates also have a bar that you must step over at the base of the gate. These can be a trip hazard so are not recommended for places where injury from falls could be more dangerous – eg at the top of stairs.

The first thing to check when you are considering a safety gate is whether it conforms to the safety standard for gates – EN1930. If it’s not written on in the description, check with the retailer directly.

You don’t have to spend a lot to buy a safety gate, you can get a fitted gate to fit across a standard door frame for about £30. There are plenty that are more expensive, however if the one you are looking at conforms to the EN1930 standard then you can be confident that it is made to a good quality and that it will operate safely.

From a safety perspective it doesn’t matter what the material of the gate is – this is just for your own preference or aesthetics.

Other things to bear in mind.

Safety gates are only tested to be suitable for children up to 24 months. So from 2 years old you need to be considering that your child may actually end up endangering themselves by interacting with a stair gate. They may climb on it, they may be able to open it. They may even be able to pull it off the wall. Safety gates are not tested to the strength of children over 24 months.

It is really important to use the template provided when fitting the gate, as this ensures the height below the gate does not introduce a gap hazard once fitted. Skirting boards for instance, can interfere with the bottom hinge or the bottom fixing depending on which way round the gate is.

DO NOT BE TEMPTED to simply install the gate above the skirting. The installation height from floor level is critical, as it ensures minimum risk of limb entrapment and is specified within the safety standard that governs the safety of their use.

Never ever use two safety gates on top of each other. Children have died whilst climbing up these and having caught their head and bodies in between the two gates.

All gates on the UK market are provided with wood screws only. They are OK for installing into Newel posts on stairs for instance, or wooden door frames, but for wall fixing you will need to source fixings and plugs appropriate to the wall material.

Last but not least, the EN 1930 standard only applies when the gate is actually closed, ie is acting as a barrier. This means that when the gate is open, other risks will be present, including finger or joint entrapment and blunt edges to run into. Bear this in mind when selecting your gate. It makes it even more important to keep the gate closed whenever it is not being used for access.

APRIL 2024 -Child Safety and Accident Prevention - Safety Made Simple

Simple changes for parents to stop the scariest accidents.

There are five main ways children get injured in the home –

  1. Falls.
  2. Poisonings.
  3. Threats to breathing – choking suffocation and strangulation.
  4. Drowning.
  5. Burns and Scalds

 

The most severe injuries are associated with heat-related accidents and falls from a height. Older children are more likely to sustain fractures than younger counterparts. Younger children have a higher percentage of burns and scalds as well as poisoning and ingestion accidents.

Some simple ways to make a big difference –

1) Secure furniture and televisions to prevent tip overs as they can be unstable and top heavy. This becomes more important when children start to explore climbing. If straps are not provided with the furniture make sure to purchase your own. https://www.rospa.com/policy/home-safety/advice/product/flat-screen-tvs 

2) Keep furniture away from windows to prevent children climbing up to access to open windows. Use window restrictors to keep windows from opening fully.

3) Keep hot drinks away from counter edges, always push them to the back of the counter. https://www.cbtrust.org.uk/burn-prevention/awareness-campaigns/hot-drinks/

4) Use cupboard locks to secure cupboards with chemicals or medicines in. Keep medicines locked away and out of reach of children.

5) Tie up loose blind cord cables. Children can be strangled on these. https://www.makeitsafe.org.uk/

6) Always use rear cooker rings and turn the pan handles to the side so hands cannot reach up to them.

7) Keep hot irons, curling tongs and hair straighteners out of reach even when cooling down and use heat protection pouches to store them. https://www.cbtrust.org.uk/hair-straighteners-2/

8) When running a bath turn the cold water on first and always test the water temperature with your elbow before letting a child get into the bath or shower.

9) Beware of magnetic toys which may contain super strong magnets. If these magnets are ingested, they can cause life threatening injuries. https://capt.org.uk/magnet-safety/

10) Keep button batteries in mind – even old ones. Keep them stored safely away from children. Be aware of toys that may use button batteries and ensure battery compartments are extremely secure. Button batteries if ingested can also cause exceptional injuries. https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-we-treat/button-batteries-using-them-safely/

RoSPA | The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents logo