Parents worry about their children’s safety when they are away from home, but not many realise that there are also safety concerns to be handled at home. Home injuries are a leading source of accidental death for children.
Fortunately, home injuries are largely avoidable through education and prevention. Parents can take proactive steps to childproof the home and keep their children safe by teaching them a few practical rules.
1. Keep cleaning material and other potentially poisonous materials out of reach.
Be sure to install cabinet guards on any cabinet where cleaners, chemicals or garden fertilizers are stored. Keep these products in their original container; do not store them in a container where they might be mistaken for food.
If there are certain rooms that aren’t childproofed or contain many potential hazards, such as a workshop or a hobby room, keep the door closed and install a doorknob cover or childproof lock.
Store all medicines in a locked cabinet, away from a child’s reach. Even cabinets that are up high need a lock, because curious kids might climb up to see what’s inside.
2. Take measures to prevent accidental drowning.
Never leave your child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water.
Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
If you have a permanent pool, enclose it with a fence that’s at least 4 feet high, and lock the gate leading to the pool after each use. Always secure and lock the cover on your spa or hot tub.
3. Childproof your electrical outlets.
It’s a good idea to protect electrical outlets with outlet covers. Unfortunately, the removable little plug-in caps can easily end up in your baby’s mouth. Instead, replace the outlet covers themselves – at least those that are accessible – with ones that include a sliding safety latch.
If you’re using extension cords in your home, cover any exposed outlets with electrical tape.
Keep your kids away from electrical appliances as much as possible and teach them to respect electricity from an early age.
4. Important steps to prevent choking.
Cut food for toddlers into tiny pieces. Children under 5 should not eat small, round or hard foods, including pieces of hot dogs, cheese sticks or chunks, hard candy, nuts, grapes, marshmallows or popcorn.
Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it’s just right for your child.
Make sure small household items, such as coins, buttons, jewellery, small balls and pins, are stored away from a child’s reach to avoid accidental choking.
5. Preventing falls and related injuries.
Keep stairs and hallways clear and free of clutter that could cause a child to trip and take a tumble, and install safety gates to block a toddler’s access to a staircase.
Many injuries to older toddlers and preschool children result from falling out of an unsecured window. To avoid such injuries, keep windows locked and screens in place. A young child could squeeze through a window opened as little as 5 inches. Screens are not strong enough to keep a child inside.
Discourage play near windows and patio doors, which could lead to a fall through glass. And most important, don’t store or display anything a child could climb near a window.
6. Take adequate precautions to guard against fire
Teach kids never to play with matches and lighters. Make a habit of placing these items up and away from young children.
Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent. For the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. Instruct them on how to respond to the sound of a smoke alarm.
Create and practice a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room in case of a fire.
7. Take preventative measures against carbon monoxide poisoning.
Install a carbon monoxide detector along with your fire detector, and keep it properly maintained, to help ensure your home is safe from this poisonous and silent killer.
It should be installed near sleeping areas, and kept them at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.
Home injuries are largely avoidable through education and prevention. Parents can take proactive steps to childproof the home and keep their children safe utilising tips outlined in this article.
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