Protecting your child starts with making your home a safe space. Here are five ways to prevent the most common causes of childhood injury.
When you think about keeping your child safe, your mind might be drawn to various outside threats that most of us learned to look out for in childhood—stranger danger, crossing the street safely, and various other scenarios. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, the most common causes of childhood dangers and injury actually exist within your home. The good news is, they’re more preventable than you think.
With our handy list of pointers, Simplist is here to help as you begin your homebuying journey with your new family. When you buy a home and become a parent, you quickly learn that child-proofing your immediate environment is about more than outlet covers and child-safe doorknobs. It’s about consistency in implementing the best and safest practices every day, even though it might feel time-consuming or inconvenient.
By identifying the most serious risks to your child, you can put into place the safety measures you need to effectively protect them. Fortunately, many of these measures are simple to implement into your regular daily routine.
1. Practice automobile safety
While it’s not technically part of the home, the car is often an extension thereof. According to CDC statistics, nearly 150 children between the ages of 0 and 19 are treated every hour in US emergency rooms for injuries related to an auto accident. That means that practicing proper child restraint—using the right car seat and using it consistently— is essential for keeping your infants safe and secure.
Current guidelines for child safety in automobiles include:
- Use a rear-facing car seat from birth to ages 2-4, or until your child meets the maximum height and weight requirements for their car seat.
- Use a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5.
- Use a booster seat until seat belts fit properly. That means that the upper belt fits across the chest, not the neck, and the lower belt fits across the lap, not the stomach.
- Remember that seat belt fit varies by vehicle and seat height. While your child might not need a booster seat in one car, they might need one in the other. Check the fit for each vehicle your child rides in.
- Use child restraints and seatbelts on every trip. It can be tempting to take your child out of the car seat if he or she is fretful or if it’s time for a feeding—but make sure you park the car safely before doing so, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
2. Guard against suffocation
Suffocation can include smothering accidents as well as strangulation and choking accidents. Suffocation is a leading cause of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), formerly known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Current guidelines for SUID prevention include:
- Infants should sleep in the same room as parents (but not in the same bed) from 0-6 months old.
- Infants should sleep on a firm and flat mattress with a fitted sheet only. There should be no other bedding, blankets, or soft items in the bed including crib bumpers or toys.
- Provide tummy time when awake under the supervision of an adult caregiver.
- Do not allow infants to routinely sleep in car seats, swings and bouncers.
- Be careful at mealtimes to ensure that food is cut up properly and that babies and toddlers are supervised while eating to prevent choking hazards.
3. Emphasize drowning prevention
Be mindful of the risks associated with drowning. Drowning accidents are especially high-risk since they can happen quickly and quietly. More than one-half of all survivable drowning injuries result in hospitalization, and can place your child at risk of permanent disabilities from brain injury.
Never leave children unattended in the bathtub or when bathing in a sink or baby bath. Install safety gates around pool areas or outdoor water features. Parents and caregivers should be familiar with swimming, rescue, and CPR in the event of an accidental drowning incident.
4. Protect against poisoning
You may have already had the forethought to put away caustic household cleaners and insecticides, but there are a wide variety of common household items that can prove harmful to children’s health. These should be put away inside a cabinet—preferably one that is high and out of reach—with a child safety lock. These include:
- Medications: All medications should be completely inaccessible, but it’s especially important to put away children’s medications as these are often mixed with sweet flavorings to make them more palatable.
- Vitamins: Children’s gummy vitamins can also be easily mistaken for candy and may be toxic in large quantities.
- Cleaners in pod form: Because they are often brightly colored and look like candy or cookies, be careful with laundry and dishwasher detergent or toilet cleaner pods.
- Arts and crafts supplies: Use markers, paints, glues, and other supplies that are non-toxic and designed for children. Keep grown-up art supplies safely locked away.
- Rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and mouthwash: While these are important tools in your fight against infection, they can be tempting to children and are quickly absorbed—even when taken in small amounts.
5. Help avoid burnsBurns can happen all too quickly and emanate from a variety of sources. If needed, consider adjusting your hot water heater to a lower setting to avoid scalding water from the faucet. Practice safe bath times by running the bathwater for young children and using a tub thermometer, if necessary, to ensure a safe and comfortable water temperature.
In addition, take care in the kitchen when boiling hot water or when pouring hot tea or coffee— younger children are more likely to be burned by hot liquids or steam. For older children who can reach up and touch the stove or a hot pan, take care to practice safety precautions and supervision in the kitchen or while cooking together. And never, ever leave an iron plugged in and unattended—it could tip over or fall, potentially burning surrounding items or, even worse, a member of your family.
Taking care of your children starts with taking care of your home. It’s worth taking the time to evaluate your surroundings through a child’s eye. Remember, your tots are likely curious and eager to learn about their environment—which often means making use of all five senses. It’s up to you to help them avoid tempting, but potentially dangerous, household items.
Enjoy greater peace of mind when you work with Simplist. We’re here for you at every step of the homebuying journey—whether you’re just starting out on the housing ladder, refinancing your family’s home, or building a real estate empire. With more than 50,000 mortgage options, and licensed loan experts to answer all your questions, we’re here to help turn your homeownership dreams into a reality.