How to keep your children safe in your own home

An estimated three-million children under the age of 14 are injured in home accidents every year from burns, fires, poisons, bathtub drownings, choking, strangling, suffocation and more. All too many accidents end in fatalities. These startling statistics could be drastically reduced if parents took the necessary precautions to child-proof their homes and make them safe for their children.

Child-proofing the home:

Infants and toddlers

From birth on up, children need to be protected. Children, especially infants and toddlers, don’t know what is dangerous and what isn’t. As soon as they can crawl or walk, they set out to explore their environment. They will crawl up stairs that are not gated. They will walk out a door that isn’t locked. They can fall out a window that isn’t secured. They will put almost anything in their mouth.

Adolescents and teens

Accidents and injuries don’t happen to infants and toddlers only. They happen to older children as well — different ages and different dangers — but they still need protecting. Older children can be tempted by an unlocked liquor cabinet or prescription pain killers in the family medicine cabinet. An angry teen may grab easily accessible car keys in the heat of the moment and take off, unlicensed and out of control.

Inspect your home

Start your child-proofing by going through your entire home. Check each room. Look in every closet, cabinet and drawer. Check out other areas where your child may go, such as the attic, basement, garage and yard.

What to look for?

The list is endless for what can pose a danger to a child. Many things are obvious like boiling water on the stove, a fire in the fireplace, an open stairway or an exposed electrical outlet. Other things are less obvious like frayed wires, slippery floors and top-heavy TVs and wobbly furniture that can fall over on a climbing toddler. Space heaters can be extremely hazardous if not carefully monitored. They can easily tip over, injure a child or start a fire.

Look for things that can cause choking, strangling or suffocating like small objects that fit in the mouth, Venetian blind cords, plastic baggies, bubble wrap and rubber bands. Look for sharp items like knives, scissors, razor blades, even knitting needles, that can seriously hurt a child.

Read product labels on items for toxic chemicals and flammability. Check out toys for small parts and lead paint. Make sure your child’s crib, high chair, playpen, swing and other furnishings meet current safety standards.

Lock things up

All medications, vitamins, pesticides, cleaning supplies and personal products should be locked up. Lock your liquor cabinet. Lock all weapons and firearms far out of sight and far out of reach. Install child-proof safety locks on all cabinets, drawers and storage areas that contain anything potentially hazardous to your child. Make sure all doors are locked and can’t be unlocked by your children. Secure windows and flimsy screens with safety locks and window guards.

Put things away

Never leave things around that could be dangerous if left unattended. A lit candle, a hot cup of coffee, a cigarette lighter, each poses a serious danger to a child. Be sure to turn off all appliances when not in use and put them safely away.

Family pets

Never leave a young child alone with a family pet, no matter how wonderful the pet is. Pets can get jealous of a new baby or easily irritated by a rambunctious toddler.

Alarms and detectors

Make sure your home is adequately protected with smoke alarms. Install at least one alarm on each level of your home and especially in every area where people sleep. You should also install a carbon monoxide detector for additional safety.

To ensure that your home is child-proofed and your children are safe, check your home thoroughly and frequently. Make sure all potential dangers are eliminated or locked up. Never leave your young child unmonitored. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy just in case, including your child’s pediatrician, the Poison Help Hotline (1-800-222-1222) and your local police and fire departments. If you have questions on the safety of your children’s toys or furniture, refer to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for product reviews and recalls.