When was the last time you crawled around your home on your hands and knees? As strange as it sounds, give it a go. Kids explore their everyday environments, so it's crucial to check things out from their perspective to make sure your home is safe.
And though we often think of babies and toddlers when we hear the words "babyproofing" or "childproofing," 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.
Supervision is the best way to prevent injuries, in the home and out, but even the most watchful parents can't keep kids completely out of harm's way every second of the day.
Here are some simple ways to help prevent injuries in your own home.
Accidents That Can Happen at Home
The common causes of home-injury deaths are fire and burns, suffocation, drowning, choking, falls, poisoning, and firearms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most home accidents happen where there's:
- water: in the bathroom, kitchen, swimming pools, or hot tubs
- heat or flames: in the kitchen or at a barbecue grill
- toxic substances: under the kitchen sink, in the medicine cabinet, in the garage or garden shed, or even in a purse or other place where medications are stored
- potential for a fall: on stairs, slippery floors, from high windows, or from tipping furniture
You can take precautions to make these places safer, but the most important thing to remember is to watch young kids at all times. Even if your home is childproofed, it only takes an instant for babies and toddlers to fall, run over to a hot stove, or put the wrong thing in their mouths. Your watchfulness is your child's best defense.
However, accidents will still happen, so it's important to be prepared. If you're expecting a baby or have kids, it's wise to:
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the age-appropriate Heimlich maneuver.
- Keep the following near the phone (for yourself and caregivers):
- poison-control number: 1-800-222-1222
- doctor's number
- parents' work and cell phone numbers
- neighbor's or nearby relative's number (if you need someone to watch other kids in case of an emergency)
- Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside.
- Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Check out these Household Safety articles for more information:
- Preventing Injuries From Falling, Climbing, and Grabbing
- Preventing Burns, Shocks, and Fires
- Preventing Strangulation and Entrapment
- Preventing Suffocation
- Preventing Choking
- Preventing Poisoning
- Preventing Drowning
- Preventing Cuts
- Preventing Injuries in the Crib
- Preventing Injuries From Firearms
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010
|National SAFE KIDS Campaign The National SAFE KIDS Campaign offers information about car seats, crib safety, fact sheets, and links to other health- and safety-oriented sites.|
|National Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.|
|U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) This federal agency collects information about consumer goods and issues recalls on unsafe or dangerous products.|
|American Red Cross The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and works to keep people safe every day. The website has information on first aid, safety, and more.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Poison Control Centers Use this toll-free number to reach any of the United States' 65 local poison control centers - (800) 222-1222 - or visit the website to find the poison control center nearest you.|
|TOYSAFETY.net This site, which is a project of the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) provides toy safety information for consumers.|
|Water Safety Kids need constant supervision around water - whether the water is in a bathtub, pool, the sea, or a water park. Here's how to keep them safe.|
|Fire Safety Would you know what to do if a fire started in your home? Would your kids? Check out our fire safety tips.|
|Gun Safety Guns are in more than one third of all U.S. households, so they're a very real danger to kids, whether you own one or not. Learn how to talk with your kids about gun safety.|
|Head Injuries Head injuries fall into two categories: external and internal. Learn more about both kinds, how to prevent them, and what to do if your child is injured.|
|CPR Every parent should know how and when to administer CPR. Done correctly, CPR can save a child's life by restoring breathing and circulation until medical personnel arrive.|
|Playground Safety Following these safety guidelines can make neighborhood playgrounds entertaining and safe for your kids.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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