Top Home Safety Hazards To Children

Every year, tens of thousands of children under the age of five are hurt or killed by hazards in the home. Furniture and other items in your home that seem harmless can indeed be dangerous or even deadly to children. Here are some of the top home safety hazards to young children, and ways to prevent many injuries.

Unsafe cribs

 
More babies — about 40 to 50 each year — die in cribs than with any other piece of nursery equipment. Children can strangle when their bodies slip between crib slats that are too far apart and their heads catch in the slats. To help prevent injuries, make sure cribs have a certification safety seal and are in good condition. Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8″ inches apart. Also make sure mattresses fit snugly in the crib. If the mattress is too small for the crib, a child can suffocate if his or her face gets wedged between the mattress and crib.

Window cords

 
Never place a baby’s crib, bed or other furniture near windows. Children can strangle themselves on window blind cords (on average, one child per month dies from this). Also, cut looped cords in half and add safety tassels to the ends to help reduce the risk of a child getting strangled.

Drawstrings on clothes

 
These can catch on playground and other equipment and strangle young children. Starting several years ago, clothing manufacturers voluntarily agreed to stop putting drawstrings at the neck of children’s jackets and other outerwear. Some older clothes may still have them, so take a look at your child’s clothes and be sure there are no drawstrings around the hood and neck.

Soft bedding

 
Don’t use soft bedding when putting babies to sleep. Babies should be put to sleep in a crib with a firm, flat mattress. This reduces the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and suffocation related to soft bedding.

Unsafe stairways

 
Each year, nearly 100,000 children under the age of five need hospital emergency room treatment because of stair-related injuries. Many of these injuries can be prevented with the proper use of safety gates. Safety gates can also be used to prevent access to rooms with hazards in them.

Household cleaners and medicines

 
Children must be protected from accessing dangerous items like medicines and household cleaners. Putting a safety latch or lock on cabinets and drawers where these items are kept can help prevent injuries.

Electrical shocks

 
Putting outlet covers on electrical outlets can help protect children from electrical shock and electrocution. Be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so children cannot choke on them.

High chairs

 
Thousands of children are injured every year when they fall out of high chairs. To help avoid these kinds of injuries, always use restraining straps to prevent children from slipping out under the tray. Restraining straps should go around the child’s waist and between the legs of the child to keep him or her safe.

Small magnets

 
Many toys, building sets and jewelry contain magnets. In hundreds of cases, magnets have fallen out of these products and been swallowed by children, resulting in many serious injuries (and even death). Parents of young children should watch carefully for loose magnets and keep them away from children.

Tipovers

 
On average, there are over 20 deaths and 3,000 injuries to children each year caused by furniture, televisions, ranges and other large objects tipping. These deaths and injuries usually occur when children climb onto these objects. To reduce the chance of injuries, make sure furniture, televisions and other potentially harmful objects to children are stable. If necessary, anchor them to a floor or a wall to prevent them from tipping over and hurting someone.

Pool and spa drains

 
Suction from a pool or spa drain is strong enough to hold an adult under water. With a child, the power exerted can be deadly. Many injuries result from missing or broken drain covers. When your child uses a pool or spa, be sure the drain covers are in place and not damaged, and there are no hazards which could result in the child becoming sucked into the drain and unable to get away from it.

Injuries from sharp edges of furniture

 
Many children suffer injuries as a result of bumping into the edges of sharp furniture and fireplaces. Corner and edge bumpers can be put on furniture and fireplace hearths to help prevent these injuries.

Recalled products

 
Many injuries to children (and adults) occur every year because they are using products that have been identified as dangerous and been recalled. To be notified when unsafe products have been recalled, sign up for free e-mail notifications at www.cpsc.gov.

These are just some of the ways to childproof your home and make it safe. By closely inspecting your home, you should be able to spot possible problem areas and take fast and inexpensive steps to prevent injuries.

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