Discovering and exploring

Most people childproof their home by screwing bookshelves to the walls and locking glass cabinets. But what do you do with loose items like electronics and keys? Even though tablets and mobile phones are full of apps and games targeted at children, it is important to remember that the devices themselves are not produced with children in mind. Items that have not been developed for small children do not comply with the same regulations and may therefore be unsuitable for children to put in their mouths.

Electronics

Mobile phones, computers, DVD players and other electronic devices may contain heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead. When these devices are warm, they can also emit small quantities of flame retardants that can be got rid of through frequent airing and keeping dust at bay. Do not let children screw devices apart and do not let small children put electronics such as mobile phones in their mouth. Avoid having computers, televisions and other electronics in rooms in which children sleep. Electronics that you want to get rid of should be left at a recycling centre or returned to the shop where you bought them.

All domestic electronic equipment must be CE marked as proof that it complies with the European safety requirements. Read more about CE marking on page Environmental and safety labelling.

Liquid-filled items

Liquid-filled decorative items containing coloured liquids may contain mineral oil, which may be at risk of leaking out. Children who ingest mineral oil are in danger of contracting chemical pneumonia. It is therefore a good idea to place liquid-filled decorative items such as lava lamps out of reach of children.

Tickets and receipts

Cinema tickets, receipts, parking tickets and train and airline tickets are made of thermal paper, which can contain the suspected hormonedisrupting substance bisphenol A. Consequently, do not allow children to play with these or put them in their mouth.

Jewellery and keys

Children like things that rattle and shine and it is easy to give them your house keys as a makeshift toy for lack of something else. But keys, jewellery and other metallic items may contain lead, cadmium and nickel and should not really be used as toys.

Do not let children suck or bite on metal keys and jewellery as they may ingest harmful lead.

Temporary henna tattoos

When on holiday or at festivals, it may seem like a good idea to let children get a temporary henna tattoo. But bear in mind that black henna paints often contain strong allergens that may lead to life-long allergy problems and cause severe eczema. Read more on the Medical Products Agency’s website, http://www.lakemedelsvarket.se/henna. However, normal transfer temporary tattoos that you can buy in, for example, toy shops, are normally not dangerous at all. But only buy products that have a list of ingredients and Swedish instructions.

Wood for outdoor use

Wood for outdoor use is often treated and sometimes material from old railway sleepers or telegraph poles that is treated with creosote is reused. Creosote is carcinogenic and this material has been banned in playgrounds and should be avoided in gardens, especially in vegetable patches, and in places where children may frequently come into contact with the material. There are other wood treatment products, aside from creosote, that should be avoided when you are building something new. If you are building a sandpit, it is therefore a good idea to use untreated timber and instead reinforce the wood with oil.

Lighter fluid

Every year, children are hurt by lighter fluid and they do not need to swallow a lot to be harmed. If a child swallows lighter fluid, some of it can end up in their airways. This can lead to chemical pneumonia and, in the worst case scenario, can be life threatening. Remember to always screw on the cap properly and that a childproof cap is not always safe. If you have lighter fluid at home, the safest thing to do is to always store it out of the sight and reach of children. You also need to pay attention to warning labels and follow the instructions on the packaging when you use it. Alternatives to lighter fluid are lighter paper or an electrical barbecue lighter.