Home environment check

This advice is a guide for identifying possible risks of accidental injury to children in the home environment. Workers should consider these risks:

  • as part of completing a first visit assessment
  • as part of day-to-day case management
  • whenever a child changes their place of residence for any period of time.

The advice is not intended to apply when a home environment check is conducted as part of an out-of-home care assessment of foster carers by community service organisations.

Practitioners may wish to use this guide to inform the kinship care assessment (Part A).

Introduction

According to data from Kidsafe Victoria (2016), child injury is the leading cause of death in children 0-14 years of age in Australia. Every year in Victoria approximately 29 children die and a further 81,000 are treated in hospital as a result of accidental injuries.

Background information

 The leading causes of child injury resulting in death or hospitalisation are:

  • Drowning – Common locations for child drowning include swimming pools, bathtubs, ponds, buckets, dams, rivers, lakes, oceans and water tanks.
  • Falls – from things such as nursery furniture and equipment (e.g. prams, high chairs, change tables), household furniture (e.g. cots, beds, chairs), playground equipment and wheeled devices (e.g. bikes, scooters).
  • Burns and scalds – from hot tap water, hot beverages such as tea and coffee and hot food including 2 minute noodles.
  • Transport – children involved in motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian incidents and driveway run overs, improperly fitted child car restraints, children left in hot cars.
  • Ingestion/choking – children commonly choke on food. Other objects include toys or toy parts, batteries, coins, buttons and magnets. Suffocations are more likely caused by plastic bags, balloons, pillows, mattresses, clothing and enclosed spaces.
  • Poisoning – from common medications such as paracetamol and household cleaners (e.g. bleach, dishwashing detergent, toilet bowl cleaners).
  • Hit/struck/crush – finger jams in doors and household objects such as televisions and bookcases falling on top of children.
  • Cutting/piercings – cuts from glass and other sharp household items (e.g. knives, scissors).

Considerations for good practice

Home safety checklist

While it is impossible to eliminate all the risks children encounter in their home, one of the most important factors in reducing risk of child injury is parent education and supervision.  Kidsafe Victoria is independent, non-profit foundation dedicated to the prevention of unintentional death, injury and associated disability to children. The foundation has developed a home safety checklist which can be used as a general guide only for child protection practitioners. This checklist can also be used as an educational tool with parents and carers to help promote safety for children. Where appropriate the checklist may be provided to the parent or carer.

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