Common Misconception About Child Safety
Parents worry endlessly about how to protect their children from stranger abduction and violence, but many overlook one of the biggest threats to their children’s safety and well-being — their own home.
Experts say that children between the ages of 1 and 4 are more likely to be killed by fire, burns, drowning, choking, poisoning, or falls than by a stranger’s violence.
Scope Things Out From The Childs Perspective
The most effective way to ensure your baby’s safety is to take a baby’s-eye view of your home. Get down on your hands and knees and see how things look from down there.
What’s within reach? What looks tempting? Where would you go if you could crawl, toddle, or walk?
This will help you figure out which cupboards, drawers, and other spaces your child might get into. As he starts walking and climbing, you’ll have to reevaluate again, looking higher each time.
Child Safety Gadgets
You’ll find all kinds of gadgets for sale that can really help your home childproofing efforts.
Or you may utilize our Professional Child Safety Consultation Services to choose and install safety devices for you.
Keep in mind that gadgets are no substitute for your eyes and ears.
It’s a good idea to protect electrical outlets with outlet covers. Unfortunately, the removable little plug-in caps can easily end up in your baby’s mouth. Instead, replace the outlet covers themselves – at least those that are accessible – with ones that include a sliding safety latch.
Use caution with furniture and fixtures
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 16,000 children under the age of 5 went to the emergency room in 2006 with injuries caused when television sets, bookcases, and other furniture and appliances tipped over on them. Between 2000 and 2006, more than 130 young children died from furniture tip-overs.
Large or heavy bookcases, dressers, and appliances are real hazards: Bolt whatever you can to the wall. Push items like televisions back from the edge of the furniture they’re on or move them out of reach, and then secure them, too. Always put heavier items on bottom shelves and in bottom drawers to make furniture less top-heavy.
Babies start pulling up on furniture shortly after they start crawling. And when they learn how to climb, watch out! Some children scale counters, bookcases, and anything else they can grab on to. Place floor lamps behind other furniture so that their base is out of your child’s reach.
Keep dresser drawers closed when you’re not using them – they make perfect ladders. And be particularly careful to fully close file cabinet drawers, because pulling out one drawer could cause the cabinet to fall over.
Most parents consider safety gates essential childproofing tools. They allow you to open outside doors for air while keeping your child indoors, they contain him within a designated room, and they block his access to dangerous stairways and forbidden rooms (such as the bathroom or kitchen).
Unfortunately, if out-of-date or used improperly, safety gates can themselves pose a hazard to children. In general, look for gates that your child can’t dislodge but that you can easily open and close. (Otherwise, you’ll be too tempted to leave them open when you’re in a hurry.)
Check ties on blinds and curtains
According to the CPSC, the cords on window coverings are a frequent cause of strangulation of children, killing a child between the ages of 7 months and 10 years every month in the United States.
Window blinds pose a particular hazard because a baby’s neck could become trapped in the cords that raise the blinds or run through the slats. A child can become entangled in a looped window cord and strangle in a matter of minutes. Use cordless window coverings wherever possible, and avoid placing your baby’s crib near a window.
If you have curtains with pull cords in your home, either cut off the pull cords or use cord shorteners or wind-ups to keep them out of reach. You can also replace a cord loop with a safety tassel. Corded window coverings sold since November 2000 have attachments on the pull cords to prevent a loop from forming between the slats.
Secure your windows and doors
According to the CPSC, every year about eight children under the age of 5 die from falling out of windows in the United States, and more than 3,000 are injured.
Always open double-hung windows from the top or fit them with locks to prevent small children from opening them.
Low windows shouldn’t open more than 4 inches. Window stops are available that can prevent windows from opening more than this. Some newer windows come with window stops already installed.
Window screens are not strong enough to prevent falls. To make windows safe, install window stops or window guards, which screw into the side of a window frame, have bars no more than 4 inches apart, and can be adjusted to fit windows of many different sizes.
According to industry standards announced by the CPSC in June 2000, the guards must fit snugly but not so securely that an older child or adult can’t remove them in case of an emergency. (The CPSC considers nonremovable window guards safe for windows on the seventh floor and above.)
Keep furniture away from windows to prevent children from climbing up and reaching the windowsill. Tragically, thousands of children fall from windows every year.
Use doorstops or door holders on doors and door hinges to prevent injuries to hands. Children are prone to getting their small fingers and hands pinched or crushed in closing doors.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, more than 1.2 million possible poisonings of children under age 5 were reported in 2009. The CPSC reports that about 30 U.S. children die from poisoning each year.
Be prepared. Keep the number for the national poison control center – (800) 222-1222 in the United States – and your local emergency numbers close to every phone.
Store poisonous products out of your child’s reach. Put safety locks on all cabinets and drawers that hold bug sprays, cleaning products, medications, and other potential poisons. Even some houseplants can be harmful if ingested.
Dispose of old or outdated medications. Most medicines shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain, as they could contaminate the water supply. Check the label on the bottle: If it’s safe to flush leftover medicine, it will say so on the label.
If you live in the United States, ask your local waste disposal agency whether there’s a program in place for safely getting rid of them. You can also ask whether your pharmacy will take back expired medication.
If you’re not sure how to safely dispose of medication, call the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hotline at (800) 463-6332.