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Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual

7.24 Health & Safety Guidance for Adopters

This chapter was added to the manual in May 2013.


  1. Aim
  2. Legislative Summary
  3. Key Policy Objectives
  4. Risks to Children
  5. Safety at Home
  6. Car Safety
  7. General
  8. Hygiene
  9. Diet and Nutrition
  10. Building Contents
  11. Reducing the Risk of Cot Death
  12. Alcohol
  13. Pets
  14. Internet Use
  15. Shotguns and Firearms

1. Aim


To provide guidance concerning Health and Safety in the homes and vehicles of (prospective) adopters, to prospective adopters and those involved in their assessment, approval, and support. 

2. Legislative Summary


Standard 9.2 (Adoption: National Minimum Standards, 2011) stipulates that the adoption agency has a written policy concerning safety for children in the prospective adopters' home and in vehicles used to transport the child.

3. Key Policy Objectives


To ensure (prospective) adopters are aware of what is expected of them in regards to the health and safety in their homes and vehicles.


To ensure those involved in the assessment, approval, and support of (prospective) adopters are aware what is expected of (prospective) adopters in regards to health and safety.

4. Risks to Children


Some children will be developmentally immature and are likely to be more at risk from hazards than their peers. Others will not have received appropriate guidance in this area from their own parents and will be unaware of potential dangers.


The assessing social worker completing your assessment will have completed the Health and Safety Checklist with you as part of the assessment process. Any significant issues identified will need to be rectified prior to a child being placed.

5. Safety at Home


There are a number of precautions which should be taken to ensure the safety of all members of your household. The following is a basic guide.


Fire Precautions

  • Install a smoke alarm on each floor of your home. These are relatively cheap and easy to install;
  • The fire service undertakes fire safety checks, offer advice and install smoke alarms free of charge. The number to ring to arrange this is 0800 587 4536;
  • Where homes have attic bedrooms, or only one exit, it is particularly important that a fire safety check is arranged;
  • Exit routes should always be kept clear of prams, toys and other obstacles;
  • When exit doors are locked (e.g. at night), the key must be easily accessible;
  • Ensure that all members of the household know how to dial 999 and how to escape in the event of a fire;
  • Ensure that everybody knows what to do if trapped by a fire: go into a room, shut the door, put a blanket at the bottom of the door and call for help through the window;
  • Go through/practice your fire escape plan regularly;
  • Do not attempt to fight the fire yourself unless it can be dealt with quickly and at no personal risk;
  • Ensure that fixed guards protect fires;
  • Store spare gas cylinders for heaters out of doors. Do not use paraffin heaters or free standing fires;
  • A cooker guard should be fitted if caring for small children and flexes to electrical appliances should be kept short and out of the reach of children.


Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is produced when any fossil fuel such as gas, coal, oil, or wood is burnt without enough oxygen. You cannot see it, smell it, or taste it.

A build up of Carbon Monoxide can be extremely dangerous and can cause a variety of symptoms, or even death. All heating and cooking appliances should be serviced regularly, and a CO detector should be fitted.


Gardens and Outside Play

  • Where gardens slope or have steps, thought must be given to any risks this might present for a child. Steps should have a handrail;
  • Garden space and fences should be maintained in a safe condition and garden exits secured;
  • Water butts, ponds, or streams should be netted, covered, or fenced off;
  • Garden equipment and insecticides should be locked away when not in use;
  • Outside play equipment must be age appropriate and maintained in a clean and safe condition;
  • Greenhouses and cold frames should have protected toughened glass and be fenced off;
  • Garages and garden sheds often contain sharp tools or dangerous chemicals and should be sound and secure;
  • Drains and flue outlets etc should be secure and fitted with an appropriate guard/cover;
  • Washing lines should be out of reach and if caring for young children, carers should be aware of the hazards presented by rotary washing lines;
  • Poisonous trees and plants should be safeguarded and children taught not to handle them;
  • Extreme caution must be exercised when using barbecues - these should never be left unattended;
  • Adequate supervision should always be provided.

6. Car Safety


Front Seat

Rear Seat

Who is Responsible?

Child up to 3 years old.

Correct child restraint MUST be used.

Correct child restraint MUST be used.

If a restraint is not available in a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle, the child may travel unrestrained.


Child from 3rd birthday up to 135cms in height (approx 4' 5") (or 12th birthday whichever they reach first).

Correct child restraint MUST be used.

Where seat belts are fitted, the correct child restraint MUST be used. The child must use adult belt if the correct child restraint is not available as follows:

  • In a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle; or

  • For a short distance in an unexpected necessity; or

  • Two occupied child restraints prevent fitment of a third.

A child 3 years and over may travel unrestrained in the rear seat of a vehicle if seat belts are not fitted in the rear.


Child over 1.35 metres (approx 4' 5") in height or 12 or 13 years old.

Seat belt MUST be worn if available.

Seat belt MUST be worn if available.


Passengers aged 14 years old and over.

Seat belt MUST be worn if available.

Seat belt MUST be worn if available.



If seat belts or child restraints are fitted in the rear of the car, it is the driver’s legal responsibility to ensure that children under the age of 14 years use them. It is also the responsibility of the driver to ensure that passengers are carried safely and vehicles should not be overloaded.


Cars must be well maintained, regularly serviced, adequately insured, and covered by a current MOT certificate if the age of the car requires it.


Car keys should not be accessible to children and young people and should always be stored safely and securely.

7. General


The following are general points of consideration:

  • Matches and sharp knives should be stored safely;
  • Decorative swords are dangerous and should be safely disposed of. Where they are displayed, they must be secure in their scabbard and inaccessible for children to reach;
  • Bleaches, disinfectants, aerosol sprays and other dangerous substances must be kept out of the reach of children and young people, or locked away. Cupboard clip-locks are a cheap and safe precaution for pre school children;
  • Medicines, tablets and alcohol should also be securely stored in a locked cupboard;
  • Stair gates must be fixed securely where appropriate;
  • Windows should be bolted where possible or made safe by the fitting of limited opening devices. The keys should be kept securely at hand in case of an emergency;
  • Protective covers should be used to prevent young children interfering with low electric sockets;
  • Pull cords on window blinds can be a hazard to children. Cutting the loop reduces the danger;
  • Bags must not be hung on bunk bed corners - children can become entangled;
  • Hot drinks can scald even half an hour after being made. They must be kept well out of reach and never held whilst holding a child;
  • Very young children can drown in as little as 3cm of water. They must be supervised at all times when bathing, using a paddling pool etc.


Most childhood accidents can be dealt with fairly easily although medical advice should be sought if there is any doubt. It is advisable to have a well stocked First Aid box available.


Consideration should be given to whether children are allergic to certain ointments and lotions in common use. All medication should be kept securely out of the reach of children.

8. Hygiene


Good hygiene standards prevent the spread of illness and infection. The risks of cross infection are higher for children moving between homes and this must to be recognised, particularly in relation to young children.


A range of minor and major infections can be transmitted via blood and body fluids. Hygiene standards should be maintained for all children and young people looked after, e.g. cuts and sores on the hands should be kept covered with waterproof, adhesive dressings. Hands need to be washed thoroughly before and after carrying out first aid procedures or after contact with bodily fluids. Disposable gloves should be used when carrying out first aid procedures.


Good hand-washing is one of the easiest and best ways of preventing cross-infection. This practice should be followed by responsible adults, encouraging children to do the same.


Because the faeces of a baby can carry live traces of the polio virus following vaccination, it is advisable to check with your GP that you are immunised against polio and to maintain thorough hygiene standards after each nappy change.

9. Diet and Nutrition


It is important to promote a healthy lifestyle and to eat a varied and balanced diet. Food and mealtimes can be a source of tension and eating disorders can create a great deal of worry. It is important to recognise that children may come from different backgrounds in terms of diet, and to recognise the need to be flexible and introduce new foods appropriately. Attitudes towards food, mealtimes, and eating habits are extremely important and influential.

10. Building Contents


Homes should be in good repair, adequately insured, safe and hazard free for children. All glass that can be reached by a child should be toughened to relevant British safety Standards, or fitted with protective safety film. Electrical equipment should be well maintained and in good order. Gas fires /boilers/cookers should be regularly serviced by an appropriately qualified person. Portable electrical equipment should be safe and adequately maintained. Doors, windows, and floor coverings should be safe and secure

11. Reducing the Risk of Cot Death


The Lullaby Trust (previously the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID)) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), provide the following advice to reduce the risk of cot death:

  • Do not let anyone smoke in the same room as the baby;
  • Do not let the baby get too hot (or too cold);
  • Keep baby's head uncovered;
  • Place baby with their feet to the foot of the cot;
  • The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot in a room with the main carer for the first six months;
  • Do not share a bed with a baby;
  • If a baby is unwell, seek medical advice promptly.

Up to date advice is available from the NHS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, NHS), the Lullaby Trust (previously FSID) website or your Health Visitor.

12. Alcohol


Children may have experienced trauma and abuse associated with alcohol use so it is vital that adopters have full background knowledge of the child, and are sensitive to the child's perception of adult drinking patterns and behaviour.

13. Pets


Pets can be important members of the household and can bring benefits for children of all ages who grow up with them. There are however a number of health risks associated with household pets. They can also injure and cause emotional distress to children unfamiliar with animals or who have had negative experiences of them.


Children and animals are unpredictable. Household pets are expected to be well looked after and children should be taught to behave responsibly towards animals.


It is expected that basic animal welfare such as regular worming of domestic pets will be undertaken. Pets' housing, sleeping and toileting arrangements, routine and training must be carefully considered and good hygiene standards observed. Adopters need to be able to demonstrate that they have measures in place for the welfare of all concerned.


Information about your pets is important when it comes to making decisions about placements, for example of a child with allergies or asthma.


The presence of certain dogs in a household will need to be carefully considered and may be incompatible with adoption. The ‘Animal Ownership Questionnaire’ must be completed.

14. Internet Use


Adopted children can be particularly vulnerable when accessing social networking websites and parents will need to be vigilant in ensuring that any internet usage is adequately supervised.


Computers should have “parental controls” activated and these should be reviewed regularly. Children will also need your involvement, experience and guidance so that you can make sure their experience of the internet is educational and enjoyable whilst also safeguarding them from any potential risk of harm.

15. Shotguns and Firearms


Prospective adopters must disclose if they hold or have access to firearms. Where applicants confirm that they hold firearms, a current firearm certificate must be seen and a copy placed on file.


The assessing social worker must be satisfied that guns and ammunition are stored in such a way that they cannot be accessed by children or young people.