Most parents worry about children getting hurt crossing the street, riding skateboards or playing tackle football. What they don’t realize is children are most likely to be injured accidentally in their own home.
During June, National Safety Month, parents should renew their focus on making their homes safer for children.
The facts are overwhelming: More than 7,600 children ages 19 and under were killed by accidental injuries in 2013, while 8.3 million had to be taken to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.
Nearly half of the fatalities involved car accidents, but each year more than 2,200 children die from injuries at home, many involving suffocation, drowning, fires and burns, falls and poisoning, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
Many accidents occur because parents overlook household hazards and fail to take preventive steps such as putting child safety locks on cabinets to keep young children from getting into prescription drugs and harmful household cleaners.
Thirty percent of parents surveyed keep medicines and cleaning products in unlocked cabinets and on low shelves where children can reach them. As a result, poison centers receive more than one million calls annually about children under five.
Nearly three out of four parents put in baby cribs items such as blankets, bumpers and stuffed animals, which can be suffocation hazards. In 2013, 819 infants suffocated or died of strangulation.
One in eight parents surveyed admit leaving kids alone in the tub for five minutes or longer. Drowning is the main cause for injury-related deaths among children one to four.
Fourteen percent of parents fail to check batteries in smoke detectors. Smoke alarms that work properly cut the risk of dying in half.
Children may try to climb a piece of furniture and pull it over on top of them. Nearly half of all parents surveyed don’t secure TVs and furniture to stop them from falling over.
More than 93,000 children under five are taken to emergency rooms every year for stair-related fall injuries.
Safety Tips Save Lives
Follow these tips to prevent injuries to your children and their guests:
Install approved safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs, attaching them to the wall to keep children from falling and getting hurt.
Watch children closely when they are in the bathtub and swimming pools.
Clear a baby’s crib of all items and make sure they sleep on their backs to prevent suffocation or strangulation.
Create a home fire escape plan with two ways out and practice it with the entire family.
Avoid stove injuries to children by cooking on back burners and turning pot handles inward.
Put carbon monoxide alarms on all home levels, concentrating on sleeping areas.
Prevent children from getting into medicines by storing them up and out of sight in secured cabinets. Don’t leave pills in purses or nightstands and remove vitamins from easy reach.
Keep household cleaners and toxic products out of reach and sight and put a lock on cabinet doors to keep children out.
Mount TVs to a wall or put them on a low, stable piece of furniture.
If you have top-heavy furniture in the house, use brackets to secure them to the wall so they don’t tip over if children climb them.
Window cords and strings should be kept out of a child’s reach. Cribs, beds and furniture should be moved away from windows and pull cords.
Keep children from falling out of windows by putting in window guards and window stops.
Make sure children play with age-appropriate toys and keep them separate for kids of different ages.
With children out of school during the summer months and playing in and around the house more often, now is the time to make your home free of hazards that can cause child injuries. Don’t wait until the damage is done.