According to the Home Safety Council’s State of Home Safety Report 2004, fires and burns, choking and suffocation, and drowning are leading causes of unintentional home injury that leads to death among children younger than 15 years old.
They also state that, children less than a year old have the highest rate of home injury that results to death, compared to all other childhood age groups. For infants, choking and suffocation cause most unintentional home injury fatalities followed by fire and burns. For children ages one to 14, fires and burns cause the most unintentional home injury fatalities.
Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal home injuries across all childhood age groups, accounting for an average of nearly 1.3 million injuries each year in United States alone. Unintentional poisonings are the second leading cause of nonfatal injury for children less than 5 years of age.
With these facts we should be responsible for the safety of our young ones and provide precautions in each scenario. Here are some tips to reduce risks in and out of our homes.
Protect your child from fires and burns
- Install standard smoke alarms on every floor and in living rooms, every bedroom, outside of sleeping areas and at the top and bottom of stairways.
- Make sure your fire extinguisher is accessible and ready. Have it checked annually by a professional technician. You can do a visual check monthly to make sure that there are no rusts, dents, or problems in your fire extinguisher.
- Replace alarms in your home that are more than 10 years old. If you don’t know when your alarms were installed, replace them.
- Create and practice a fire escape plan that includes two exits out of each room with details such as who will assist your baby/child. Should a fire occur, go to your outdoor meeting place immediately and call the fire department from there. Never re-enter your house.
- Turn the temperature on your home’s water heater down to 120˚ F to prevent scalds. Test bath water before bathing baby. It should be no more than 100˚ F. If it feels hot to you, it will burn your baby.
- Cover unused electrical sockets with outlet plugs or guards.
- Turn pot/pan handles inward on the stove out of child’s reach. Never allow children to be unsupervised in the kitchen.
- Keep items such as matches, lighters, curling irons, candles, and hot foods and liquids out of a child's reach.
Protect your child from choking and suffocation
Protect your child from choking
- Do not hang mobiles or other objects above the crib that have strings or ribbons on them.
- Scan the floor of every room in your home for objects such as coins, screws, buttons, and other small items that might choke your child.
- Read the packaging on toys and games to verify they are age-appropriate for your child.
- Always cut your toddler’s food into small bites.
- Until age 4, avoid foods that can block the airways such as: peanut butter, hot dogs, popcorn, whole grapes, raw carrots, raisins, nuts, hard candies or toffees and chewing gum.
- Keep small magnets away from children. These include magnets found in construction set, refrigerator magnets and others. Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect that magnets have been swallowed. Look for abdominal symptoms, such as pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Note that in X-rays, multiple magnetic pieces may appear as a single object.
- Be vigilant. Small children put many things in their mouths. A watchful adult is often the best defense.
Protect your baby from suffocation
- Bassinet and/or crib should meet current safety standards.
- Keep items such as pillows, comforters, quilts, and stuffed toys out of the bed.
- Mattress should be firm and fit snugly within the bassinet/crib.
- Lay your baby on his or her back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Cut all loops on window blind cords and make sure they are out of your child’s reach.
Protect your child from falls and while playing outside
Protect your child from falls
- Install safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases. Consider gates that screw into the wall. They are more secure than pressure gates.
- Always use the safety straps provided for your baby on car seats, strollers, high chairs, and swings.
- Install window guards or window stops on all upper windows. Familiarize yourself with how to open these windows in the event of a fire.
- Never leave baby unattended on beds, sofas, chairs, or any place where he or she may fall.
- Keep doorways leading to dangerous areas, such as basements or attics, locked.
- Put skid-proof pads underneath all rugs.
- When grocery shopping, use the safety strap to buckle your child into the seat, and remain close to the cart at all times.
- Do not leave baby unattended on a changing table, and be sure to use the safety strap. Avoid walking away from baby by keeping all changing supplies within arm's reach of changing table.
- If your children have their hearts set on a new bike, skateboard, scooter or other riding equipment, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun.
Protect your child while they play outside
- Having kids wear the appropriate and properly-fitted sports gear during practice and games can help avoid minor and serious injuries.
- Don’t take chances with the brain; know the signs and symptoms of concussions learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion
- Learn the signs and symptoms of dehydration and other forms of heat illness. Have your kids bring a water while they play. Encourage children to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after play.
Protect your child from poisons and overdosing.
Protect your child from poisons
- Identify poisonous substances in your home by looking for words such as “Caution,” “Warning,” or “Danger” on the packaging. Make sure all poisons are locked up in a cabinet out of a child’s reach and have child safety caps on all poisonous products.
- Post the Poison Control Center number next to every phone in your home.
- Have all your gas appliances checked every year. If used improperly or not working correctly, fuel burning appliances can emit carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can be fatal to you and your baby in minutes.
Protect your child from medication overdose
- Use the dosing device that comes with the medicine, not a kitchen spoon.
- Read and follow the label, and avoid giving your child more than one medicine with the same active ingredient.
- When other caregivers are giving your child medicine, write clear instructions about what medicine to give, when to give it and how much to give.
- Take all medicines and medical supplies out of purses, pockets, and drawers. Never refer to medicine as "candy."
Protect your child around water
- Take the time to learn CPR. It’s a skill worth learning especially for your love ones.
- Never leave your child unattended in the bathtub or the pool.
- Stay within reach of your child when they are in or near water.
- Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
- Install toilet lid locks on all toilets in your home.
- Turn all large buckets bottom-up to prevent them from collecting water.
- Install a fence around your pool or hot tub, and always keep the gate locked and shut.
- Never rely on personal flotation devices or swimming lessons to protect your child.
- Bathe baby in a specially designed, slip-resistant infant bathtub. Fill tub with 2-3 inches of warm—not hot—water (check temperature with your wrist or tub thermometer. The water should be between 96-100 degrees Fahrenheit). Stay within arm's reach of your baby while he or she is in the tub.
Protect your child while in the car or on the road
- Purchase and correctly install an infant/child car safety seat appropriate for their size.
- Never leave your child unattended in the car. Your car is an oven on wheels and children can overheat very quickly if left inside.
- Always hold your child’s hand in car parks and when walking on footpaths or crossing a road.
- Teach your kids about road safety. Children learn by example and emphasize on following road signs and warnings.