From the age of five, children are absorbing a lot more detailed and specific information but they are also able to put it into a context and make logical links about the implications of what they do and how they do it.
You will probably also be able to take some reassurance from the fact that they will remember what you discuss with them and act on it (though this is not a reason to leave them unsupervised).
Kids Out and About
Your child will also be starting school now and all sorts of safety and security messages will be reinforced here, especially the big ones like road safety, and the danger of strangers etc. But they will also be feeling much more grown up and eager to flex their newly independent muscles.
Falls and cuts still account for many accidents at age five and up, as children become more adventurous and make full use of their surroundings – whether in the home or out and about. If your children are just starting to go further afield to play (on bicycles perhaps), make sure you accompany them in the first instance to let them know what is safe and what is not. And if you can’t be with them in the case of older children, make sure they tell you where they are going and what time they will be back.
With their physical growth and ability comes invention! While you may know the real way to use certain play equipment, indoor or out, their imaginations will allow them to invent many different ways to use it, not always safely. If at a playground, try to make sure that play areas have an impact absorbing rubber pellet or bark covered floor, rather than concrete.
Also, ensure you keep an eye on outside games that involve digging, whether it is soil or sand, as these dugouts can collapse and cause suffocation.
Walking and Cycling to School
On the roads, school may well be reinforcing what you have already begun to tell them about cars and how to cross the road but again, excitement can get in the way of that so make sure you help them cross the road wherever and whenever possible.
Your child may be walking or cycling to school by themselves now, so make sure they are aware of how to stay Safe On Their Bikes. They should have all the necessary safety equipment for them and their bike, such as light coloured and preferably reflective clothing and most importantly a helmet.
They may be offered a cycling proficiency test at school but remember that is not a substitute for adult supervision.
Older children from about 8 upwards will be able to start using their own risk assessment abilities in potentially dangerous situations and you can foster this by asking them what they think the consequences of their actions will be.
In cars, all children need to be strapped in at all times with a car seat or booster seat, dependent on their age or weight. New guidelines are now in force on this so make sure you check them out. See our Out and About section for more information.
Creative Play in the House
In the house, make sure children continue to use caution on stairs, and that cooking and creative play involving scissors is still supervised. Older children are also more likely to climb and move furniture, which means windows, ledges and glass panels in doors should be made safe.
Older children are also more likely to want to imitate adult behaviour, so you’ll need to keep on locking matches and lighters away as these are simple to use but the consequences are unimaginable. It doesn’t need to be a full fire to kill. In fact, many children die each year from smoke and fumes inhalation (see our article on Fire Safety here).
Alcohol can have a huge curiosity factor now and can be poisonous to children in large quantities, so make sure it is locked away. This becomes less urgent for hazardous substances, such as cleaning chemicals, and medicines, as the safety messages tend to have hit home about these now. However, it is still a good precaution to have these locked away, just in case.
Electricity and Water
When children reach the age of about 10 they are more likely to want to use the cooker, kettle, iron or maybe run their own bath. But it is still important to supervise these activities until the child has some experience under their belt and has been shown the right and wrong way to do things.
If you set a good example, this is what your child will imitate so make sure that you know about basic safety around the home as well as outside.
In terms of playing in water, older children are more likely to be confident and know their limitations if they have had swimming lessons. Sadly, this may all go out of the window if playing with friends. Diving, ducking and swimming in open water (rivers, canals, the sea, gravel pits) are often the most exciting things to children and also the most dangerous, so adult supervision is also required.
This stage of development can be confusing for a parent, as although your child becomes more articulate and appears to be able to grasp complex messages, they tend to lose concentration when playing or excited. This tends to be the times when accidents occur, so it is important to always be on your guard.