By Katrina Phillips

NEVER did I imagine washing shopping. Never did I picture my house being quite so clean. As I contemplate the plethora of cleaning products, disinfectants and hand sanitisers, what I see is evidence of the new normal.

That’s why, as Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, I’m so concerned about heightened risks to children during the pandemic and why it’s our focus this Child Safety Week, which runs until Sunday.

In Scotland up to 85 per cent of the most serious accidents to pre-schoolers happen in our homes. And that’s in normal times. With young children spending so much more time at home, exposure to risk is naturally heightened.

Add to that the pressure on parents. All those meals to cook and clear away. Complications of food shopping. Endless clearing up and cleaning. Trying to keep children occupied. Home-schooling for the older ones. And all without the normal support of family and friends, nursery or school.

Accidents happen in a split second, when we’re tired or distracted. And for many parents tired and distracted is a big part of the new normal. As we grab that small comfort of a cup of tea, it’s so easy to get distracted and put it down where a toddler can reach it. But hot drinks are the top cause of burns to small children.

Lockdown has been particularly hard on families with young children living in cramped homes or with no gardens or outside space. We know that children living in overcrowded homes are three times more likely to be injured in a preventable accident. With the inevitable mess there are plenty of dangers lurking and with no access to playgrounds, no furniture is off limits as a climbing frame.

The pandemic means money worries for families too. It’s a fact that children from families living in hardship are more likely to be killed or seriously injured. When you’re counting every penny, it’s harder to afford safety equipment and more likely you’ll buy what’s cheapest online, where products sadly may not meet safety standards.

That may mean buying products with accessible button batteries that curious little fingers can find. The 5p-sized round, silver batteries can be lethal if a child swallows one and it gets stuck in their food pipe. For safety’s sake, battery compartments should be secure and spare or flat batteries kept out of reach.

Turning back to poisoning, it can be really surprising how young children see the things around them. As one mum said about laundry capsules: “He thought it was a sweetie because it was bright and like a jelly, so he gave it to his little sister who bit into it.”

We persuaded TV presenter Jean Johansson to taste Bitrex, the bitterest substance on earth. Companies add it to laundry and cleaning products to stop children swallowing them by accident. It tastes disgusting but she braved it to highlight the risks and a way to keep children safe.

With Jean, we’re encouraging families to download our Parents Pack. It focuses on the top five risks for the under-fives – poisoning, burns, falls, drowning and threats to breathing – and offers advice on fire, water and road safety too.

It’s packed with practical tips, like identifying safe spots for those hard-earned mugs of tea. And it’s free for everyone, thanks to the Scottish Government.

Our Parents Pack can help you take on child safety and win, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Please download it from the Child Accident Prevention Trust website,

Katrina Phillips is Chief Executive, Child Accident Prevention Trust