Did you know that unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening at home.
Household injuries are one of the top reasons kids under age 3 visit the ER, and nearly 70% of the children who die from unintentional injuries at home are 4 years old and under. Young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that’s where they spend most of their time.
Here are some simple ways to prevent injuries in your own home. Please note that although childproofing will make your job easier, it won’t eliminate the need for supervision.
- Install safety latches on all cabinets and drawers to keep children from potentially poisonous household products.
- Use the stove’s back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to keep hot pots and pans out of the reach of children.
- Keep kitchenware and appliances out of reach and away from the edge of counters and tables.
- Put visual reminders like the Mr. Yuk stickers from poison prevention centers on potential poisonous or hazardous items.
- Install safety latches on cabinets and drawers to keep children from potentially poisonous household products.
- Install toilet locks to keep toilet lids closed. Children are more top-heavy than adults and can lean and fall into a toilet easily. They also can drown in just one inch of water.
- Install anti-scalding devices on faucets and showerheads to prevent burns. Also set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. It takes just three seconds for a child to sustain a third-degree burn from water at 140 degrees.
- Unplug hair dryers and electric rollers after use to prevent electrocution from contact with water in the bathroom. Also keep them away from curious children to prevent burns.
- Make very sure your child cannot lock the bathroom door from the inside, or ensure that you can unlock it from the outside.
- Place a non-skid mat in the bathtub.
Generally around the house
- Cover unused electrical outlets with outlet protectors or safety caps. Make sure outlets in the bathroom and kitchen – or near any water source – are updated with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which turn off electricity if appliances fall into water. For outlets in use, especially those low to the ground, there are devices available which make it difficult to pull out plugs.
- Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs and in the doorways of rooms with hazards. Gates with expanding pressure bars should not be used for blocking stairs.
- Use doorknob covers to keep children away from rooms and other areas with hazards, such as swimming pools. Be careful, though, that these devices are easy for adults to use in case of emergency.
- Put corner and edge bumpers on furniture and other items like a fireplace hearth to protect against injury.
- Place furniture away from high windows so children won’t climb onto windowsills. Screens aren’t strong enough to keep children from falling through windows.
- Make sure window blinds do not have looped cords – they can be strangulation hazards for children. Always lock blinds into position whether they are all the way up or not.
- Remove free-falling lids from toy chests, which should have lids that stay open or very light, removable ones.
- Prevent furniture from tipping by securing bookcases, shelving, and heavy furniture to walls with brackets and anchors. When storing items, put heavier items on bottom shelves and in bottom drawers.
- Put a smoke alarm in any bedroom whose door will be shut at night or where children are sleeping in bunk beds, because smoke rises.
Remember that childproofing your home can never be 100% effective against injury. Supervise your children at all times.