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Children and plumbing: how to avoid disasters

Keeping kids – and your home – safe

If you have young children then you'll know you need eyes at the back of your head. With the best will in the world it’s sometimes not possible to have eyes on them every second of the day and children and your plumbing don’t mix well. We're talking about everything from blocking your drains to serious safety issues so it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to avoid disaster.

Here’s an overview of what can go wrong and some tips for protecting your children and your home.

Scalding

While we tend to think of kettles and pans posing the greatest risk of scalding, tap water can get very hot quickly. Children are often fascinated by water and it wouldn’t take long to run hot enough to scald.

What you can do: Keep taps screwed shut tight so that they’re difficult for small hands to turn and if you think they still pose a risk you can fit locks or guards onto taps to prevent them from being turned. If you’re really worried about it you can have a thermostatic mixer valve (TMV) fitted to stop the water getting too hot (this is what they use in schools and hospitals).

Flooding

Because children love playing with water so much, they often enjoy filling sinks up or even filling receptacles and dumping water elsewhere. This can obviously lead to flood damage and potentially even a risk of drowning (as only a very small volume of water can be dangerous for children).

What you can do: to prevent the sink being filled you could keep the plugs and other items that could be used to block the plughole up (such as cloths) out of reach. Tightly fastened taps and locks/guards as mentioned above would also prevent the taps being turned. It’s also always a good idea to reinforce with your children that doing this is not allowed.

Another idea is to provide alternative ways of playing with water safely such as a water tray in the garden. This obviously requires supervision.

Blocked toilets and sinks

Kids love putting objects down the toilet. Whether it’s reams of toilet roll, toys or – even worse – water beads, these can cause severe blockages.

What you can do: To prevent this you could install toilet seat locks or locks on the outside of the door, set high out of reach. If you have a lock on the inside of the door, make sure it’s one that can be opened from the outside so they can’t lock you out. These solutions are obviously not ideal if you’re toilet training so it’s always best to reinforce that bathrooms are out of bounds for playing. You could even add some kind of door chime that alerts you when someone goes into the bathroom.

Blocked outside drains

Just as with toilets and sinks above, children may well put objects into outdoor drains which can lead to blockages.

What you can do: Always ensure that grates are intact as they will prevent larger objects being put down the drains. A drain cover will prevent other substances such as sand and mud being put down by even the most determined toddler! These will also prevent leaves and other debris getting into the drains.

What to do if the worst happens

Obviously if a child is hurt you need to seek medical attention straight away. Applying cold water for several minutes will help alleviate a scald. If the problem is a blocked toilet or drain, and you’re unable to easily retrieve the object yourself, then you will need to call in a plumber as you could potentially cause more damage trying to resolve it yourself.

We can help with blocked drains and floods, even where blockages are deeply embedded as we can use correlator technology to locate and resolve it. Call us on 0800 032 6478 or complete the form to the right.

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