It is a parent’s job to make sure the home environment is as safe as possible, but unfortunately every year more than 2,000 children die in unintentional injuries in the home. Safety devices like smoke alarms and window guards are important, but active supervision by an adult is also key to making sure children stay safe. Baby-proofing is only the first step. Injury risks change as children grow and develop, and parents should regularly reassess the safety of their home to address the most serious risks.
Safe Kids Wake County recommends parents keep these home safety tips in mind:
Preventing Fires & Burns
- Make sure you have working smoke alarms in every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and in every bedroom. Plan how you would get each child in your home to safety, to help them escape in a fire. Practice a family fire drill twice a year.
- Set your water heater at 120 degrees and test the bathwater by running your whole hand and wrist throughout the tub before putting your child in it.
- Always supervise children near water. Never leave young children alone in the bathtub or pool – a child can drown in a matter of seconds.
- Keep toilet lids closed and lock all doors to bathrooms.
- Safeguard your pools and hot tubs by making sure your pool has four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate that is locked when no adult “water watcher” is on duty. Hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
- Install protection to prevent entrapment if you own a pool or hot tub, such as protective measures like anti-entrapment drain covers and safety vacuum release systems.
- Prevent serious falls by keeping furniture away from windows, installing guards or stops on windows that are not emergency exits, and installing safety gates at the top and the bottom of stairs if you have small children. Never use baby walkers and always use 9 to 12 inches of soft surfacing, such as woodchips, rubber mulch, or pea gravel, under and around playground equipment.
- Put your baby on his or her back to sleep on a crib that meets all current national safety standards. Remove all pillows, comforters, stuffed toys and other soft products from the crib before putting your baby to sleep.
- While looking at a room as your child would, ask yourself what looks interesting and what can be reached. Get rid of small items your child can choke on.
- Keep guns locked, unloaded and where kids cannot reach them. Lock up ammunition in a separate place.
- Lock up poisons such as medicine, vitamins, cleaning supplies and pet food. Read labels and follow directions when giving medicine to children. Post the Poison Center Helpline by every phone: 1-800-222-1222.
- Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and on each level of your home. Test them every month and make sure heating systems are vented outside and checked each year.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
- Be prepared for emergencies and keep emergency numbers by every telephone.
- Call 911 if your child is choking, collapses, can’t breathe or is having a seizure.
- Check your first aid kit to make sure it is fully stocked.
- Make sure babysitters and other caregivers know where to find first aid supplies and how to handle an emergency.
For more safety tips on how to make your home safer for your children, visit www.safekids.org.
Angie Bullock is manager of WakeMed’s Trauma Program and serves as the Safe Kids Wake County Coalition Coordinator.