Considering becoming a foster carer? Being able to demonstrate that you can provide a warm, welcoming environment is an important part of the process. However, it’s also vital that steps are put into place to keep any child safe from harm’s way.
The modern day home is full of potential hazards, from sharp objects and chemicals, to stairs and windows. Although children under the age of 5 are the group most at risk, we’ve created this helpful guide to help ensure that everyone stays safe whatever their age, in the home, in the garden and whilst out and about!
Health and Safety Assessment
Before becoming a foster carer, your supervising social worker will carry out a health and safety assessment of your home. To help be prepared, here are a few things to think about:
- Is your foster child’s bedroom clean and tidy, with space for a bed, storage and areas to play and study?
- Does your home have adequate heating, lighting, bathing and toilet facilities?
- Have windows been fitted with locks or safety catches?
- Are stair and floor coverings well fitted and rugs secured?
- If you will be looking after very young children, do you have stair gates fitted and have you covered any sharp edges?
First Aid Kit
As a foster carer, you’ll be provided with first aid training, with a refresher course every 3 years. So, if there does happen to be any bumps or cuts in the home, you’ll know just what to do. It’s also good to be prepared and have your own, well stocked first aid kit, containing:
- Waterproof plasters
- Fabric plaster strips
- Antiseptic wipes / cream
- Crepe bandages
Fire Safety and Prevention
Did you know that most fires in the home can be prevented? To help protect your home and family, make sure you talk to your children and educate them about the dangers involved. Here are also some basic precautions you can take around the home:
- Smoke detectors that conform to British Standards should be fitted in your home. Ideally, these should be in each foster child’s bedroom, or on the landing. Don’t forget that these will need to be regularly maintained and tested though.
- Look for curtains and other furnishings that are non-flammable.
- Make sure that any sockets are not overloaded. If you’re looking after younger children, low level electrical sockets should also be fitted with a safety cover.
- Try to avoid trailing cables from electrical appliances as these can cause falls.
- Make sure matches, lighters and candles are kept out of reach of children.
- Smoking should be done away from children due to the potential fire risks, but also because of the dangers of second hand smoke.
- In the case of a fire, make sure you have a fire escape procedure in place that all children are aware of. It will also be important to know where window and door keys are kept at all times.
There are many objects around the home that can be potentially dangerous to children, such as household cleaners (e.g. bleaches and washing powder), sharp knives and medications. Where possible, make sure these are out of reach, or locked away.
The kitchen can also be dangerous for children, with hot ovens and fatty pans. Make sure you follow appropriate safety practices, such as using a cooker guard and not leaving over-hanging pan handles. For younger children, it’s important to supervise them in the kitchen at all times.
If you’re looking after young children, you should also consider radiator and fire guards and make sure dustbins have securely fitting lids.
Your children should be able to run around and play safely whilst in the garden too:
- Tidy away and secure any garden chemicals and sharp objects such as garden tools.
- For younger children, make sure fences are secure.
- Fence off and cover any ponds or swimming pools. If you have a swimming pool, a separate safety inspection will also take place.
- Surround slides and swings with soft areas to prevent bumps and grazes.
- If you’re enjoying a BBQ, make sure it’s supervised at all times. After use, remember to dampen it down and not left for children to handle.
Do you have a cat, dog, rabbit or something else as a family pet? This can be great for a child, as they can often have a therapeutic effect. However, it’s vital to maintain standards of cleanliness and hygiene:
- Food and water should not contaminate human food preparation areas.
- Cages and litter trays should be cleaned out regularly.
- Animal hair and mess should be regularly vacuumed and cleaned.
- Cats and dogs should have regular worming and flea treatments.
Out and about
As a parent, looking out for potential hazards doesn’t stop once you leave your home. Here are some final things to think about when you’re out and about:
- Make sure your foster child has a helmet at all times whilst riding a bicycle.
- When travelling by car, make sure everyone is wearing their seatbelts. Children under 12 years old and less than 1.48m must also use a restraint conforming to British or European standards, in addition to a fitted seatbelt.
- Always use an appropriate car seat with restraints for an infant. For babies, remember that a rear-facing baby seat should never be used on the front passenger seat where an air bag is fitted.
We know there’s a lot to think about, but it will all start to feel natural after time! If do have any questions on health and safety as a foster carer though, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Fostering Solutions. Or, if you’re considering fostering a child and would like any foster caring advice, we’ll be more than happy to help. Call us on 0800 160 160 7, or request a callback.