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As an expectant parent or the parent of young children, keeping your kids safe at home is a top priority. But unfortunately, many things in your house can be hazardous. For example, hot stoves, sharp objects, cleaning chemicals and heavy appliances can cause serious injury or even death to small children. To keep your kids — and the rest of your family — safe at home, it’s essential to childproof certain areas of your house and understand what to do in the event of an emergency.
One of the most effective ways to improve home safety and reduce the risk of serious injuries is to childproof your house. Here are some statistics on child safety and childproofing at home:
- Among parents whose child was injured in a home accident, nearly 40% said that their child’s injury could have been prevented if they had taken proper childproofing precautions. (SafeHome.org)
- Data shows that parents are often less vigilant about childproofing after their first child. 20% of parents said they took fewer childproofing precautions in their home for their second or third child. (SafeHome.org)
- According to parents, the kitchen is the most hazardous room in the house, followed by the bathroom and living room. (SafeHome.org)
- More than 6 out of 10 parents say that childproofing a home is extremely or very important. Parents in their 40s tend to be more concerned about home safety than younger and older parents. (SafeHome.org)
- Some of the most overlooked areas of risk at home include toilet lid locks, garbage can locks, non-skid strips on bathroom floors and anti-scald devices that measure water temperature. (SafeHome.org)
- Data shows that more than half of parents don’t childproof their homes until their kids are infants or toddlers, and only 15% start the childproofing process during pregnancy. (SafeHome.org)
- Accidental injuries are the number one cause of fatalities in children between the ages of 1 and 14 years old. (Centers for Disease Control)
- Smart home devices have been shown to reduce child injuries. In one study, it was found that close to 70% of parents either owned a smart monitor to track their baby or wanted to get one. (SafeHome.org)
Child injury statistics
Child injuries caused by home accidents are extremely common. Below are some facts about child injuries that current or expectant parents should be aware of:
- Over 7,000 children between the ages of 0 and 19 die each year from unintentional injuries. (Centers for Disease Control)
- Between 2018 and 2019, drowning was the leading cause of injury and death among young children between the ages of 1 and 4. (Centers for Disease Control)
- The majority of drownings and near-drownings happen in residential swimming pools and in open water sites. (Stanford Children’s Hospital)
- Between 2010 and 2019, suffocation death rates among all infants increased 20%; among Black children, the increase was 21%. (Centers for Disease Control)
- Falls are the number one cause of non-fatal injury for kids. There are about 8,000 fall-related visits to emergency rooms each day among children ages 19 and under. (Stanford Children’s Hospital)
- On an annual basis, roughly 2,000 kids under 14 years old die as a result of a home injury. These fatal injuries are primarily caused by fire, burns, suffocation, drowning, firearms, falls, choking and poisoning. (Stanford Children’s Hospital)
- Each year, poison centers answer more than 1 million calls about a child under 5 years old. (SafeKids.org)
- On average, eight children under the age of 5 die each year as a result of falling out of windows. An estimated 3,300 children are injured falling out of windows each year. (SafeKids.org)
- Data shows that, on average, there are five emergency room visits each hour for a stove-related injury for kids and adults. More than 40% of injuries are among children under age 19. (SafeKids.org)
Are you having an emergency?
First and foremost, if you are having a medical emergency, or someone in your household is, the most important thing to do is call 911 immediately, even if you are uncertain if you need additional help.
If you have questions about specific hazards in your home, several resources are available to answer frequently asked questions. Here is a list of common emergency numbers and who to reach out to for specialized help.
|Falls||First Aid for falls|
|Burns||First aid for burns|
|Cuts||First aid for cuts|
Heimlich Maneuver for babies and small children
Heimlich Maneuver for children and adults
National Capital Poison Center
First Aid for Poisonings in a Child
|Safety recalls||U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission|
Expect the unexpected
As a parent or guardian, it’s your responsibility to keep your kids safe from potential hazards at home. But even if you take all the obvious precautions, accidents can still happen, often when and where you least expect them.
When thinking about home safety, don’t neglect issues that you assume pose less of a risk to your kids and family members. For example, make sure to keep your plumbing and electrical systems updated. Have major appliances, like your water heater and dryer, inspected by a professional each year to ensure they are in good working order. Also, pay attention to your yard. Trim low-hanging tree branches, avoid plants with thorns and keep garden tools and lawn mowers out of sight.
Whether you own a home or rent an apartment, it’s also a good idea to review your homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy on a regular basis. A robust property insurance policy can provide financial protection against medical and legal fees if you are found at fault for someone else’s injuries at your home.
Child safety hazards throughout the house
The following is a list of child safety hazards throughout the house, some of which you walk past daily and may not realize are potential accidents waiting to happen.
A sharp object can cause major damage if you or someone else falls on it or accidentally bumps into it.
Everyday sharp objects include:
- Furniture and fireplace edges
- Fireplace tools
- Cutlery including knives
- Cabinet doors
- Drinking glasses and bowls
You can lower the risk of accidents involving sharp objects by keeping sharp objects out of reach or adding childproof measures, such as a silicone protectant.
However, there are other dangerous sharp objects that you might not think of. For instance, grilling tools, razors, paper shredders, the edges of mirrors and grooming tools like clippers and nail scissors all need to be stored away and kept out of small hands.
Cleaners and chemicals are not just found under the kitchen sink but throughout the home and garage.
Some examples of dangerous chemical include:
- Spot cleaners
- Brake fluid
- Toilet and surface cleaners
- Motor oil
- Nail polish remover
You can lower the risk of accidents involving hazardous cleaners by locking them up or placing them in childproof containers to help prevent possible poisoning. You can also use stickers, such as the Mr. Yuk from the Pittsburgh Poison Center, to provide a visual cue that something contains a dangerous chemical.
Furniture may not immediately come to mind when you think of dangerous objects. However, these items may tip over and cause harm to young children.
Be aware of the risk associated with furniture like:
- Large appliances
You can lower the risk of accidents involving furniture by carefully reviewing each piece of furniture to see if further steps can be taken to secure the piece in place or if it needs to be removed altogether.
For example, you can use anti-tip brackets or straps to secure furniture to the walls and to help prevent tipping. Televisions and other heavy appliances should be kept on a broad base and strapped down or secured against the wall. Be aware that if you have furniture or vintage toys made prior to 1978, it is possible they contain lead and should be removed from the house.
Plants in the backyard and the house
Chemicals and cleaners may be the obvious poisonous materials around your house, but household plants can pose an equal threat. Several plants, if ingested, are toxic to children and pets.
Some common toxic plants are:
- Peace lilies
- Aloe vera
- Arrowhead plant
- English ivy
- Devil’s ivy
You can lower the risk of accidents involving toxic plants by eliminating these plants from your house and your backyard. If you are unsure if your favorite plant is poisonous to humans or pets, contact a poison control center and describe the plant in question — they will help you identify the poisoning potential.
Electrical outlets are a significant home hazard, especially for children. Not only is it enticing for kids to stick objects inside the outlets, but if tiny wet hands come in contact with an outlet, it can lead to accidental shock. Purchasing child safe outlets or sockets from home improvement stores or covering them with plastic covers helps prevent possible shock.
Other ways to make electrical sockets safer include:
- Shortening cords, such as electrical cords and cable cords, as much as possible
- Hanging loose cords out of reach
- Avoiding overloading outlets
- Only using a socket up to the recommended wattage
- Having one plug in a socket at a time
Radiators may be needed around your home for warmth, but they can pose a serious risk of burns if you don’t pay careful attention to how your kids interact with them. You can lower the risk of burns by installing approved covers or screens over radiators and other household heating devices, such as steam pipes. You could also install a screen or playpen gate to avoid having children come in contact with the radiator.
Child safety hazards room by room
Another strategy for evaluating the safety of your home is to examine possible hazards room by room. Here are the most common areas where you are likely to find issues that need to be addressed.
The kitchen is not only one of the busiest areas of the house; it also contains numerous safety hazards. There are a variety of big and small items, from your large appliances to small sharp objects, that can potentially hurt young children.
Some kitchen hazards are:
- Hot stove and/or oven
- Access to items in cabinets
- Sharp objects
- Potential chemicals
You can lower the risk of kitchen accidents in a few ways. First, consider setting up a “safety zone” within a few feet of your oven. You should also make sure all appliances are secured to the wall whenever possible, and install safety latches to cabinets and appliances to keep kids out. In addition, you should never leave cookware unattended within kids’ reach. When cooking, try to use back burners as much as possible, and keep a close eye on your kids if they are in the kitchen while you’re cooking.
Additionally, keep knives, cutlery, graters and mandolins on high shelves where kids can’t easily reach them. After running the dishwasher, put sharp objects away immediately. If you store cleaning supplies under a kitchen sink, consider relocating them to a higher shelf or locked cabinet. Beyond the cleaning supplies, items such as white vinegar and spices can be equally harmful if ingested, so be sure to store them in a secure, unreachable place for kids or secure them in a latched cabinet.
While your backyard can be an oasis, it is also an area with possible safety risks for kids.
Backyard dangers include:
- Swing sets
- Gardening and lawn equipment
- Lawn chemicals
You can lower the risk of backyard accidents by taking several precautions. If you have a pool in your backyard, drowning is a top concern. An average of 3,957 unintentional drowning deaths occurred each year in the United States from 2010 to 2019, according to the CDC, which also reports that drowning is the second-highest cause of death for children ages 1 to 14. To keep your kids and family members safe around the pool, install alarms and a fence with a locking gate around the pool. In addition, stay as diligent with kiddie pools as you do with adult pools and make sure they are emptied when not in use, since drowning can occur in only one inch of water.
If you have a swing set and jungle gym, watch your children closely as they play, or make sure there is an adult with them to help prevent falls and injuries. Keep an eye out for any objects left in the yard that pose a potential hazard, too, such as poisonous plants, sharp-edged barbecue tools and equipment, garden tools, garden pesticides or lawn equipment.
Garages pose numerous safety hazards for children, even if your kids don’t spend much time there.
Common garage risks include:
- Sharp tools
- Heavy objects
You can lower the risk of garage accidents by keeping the space tidy and taking precautions. For example, tools pose a serious threat since they can easily cause physical harm. Make sure to lock up your tools or place them on a high shelf out of reach. Be equally cautious with shelving and make sure it is not placed anywhere it can be pulled down, and do not weigh shelves down with heavy objects. Overloaded shelves may fall down and hurt a small child standing below.
If you keep chemicals in the garage, such as antifreeze, lawn care, pesticides, motor oil or batteries, keep them locked away and well out of reach.
A special note on cars
Hundreds of children die each year from heatstroke from either accidentally gaining access to a vehicle or being left in a hot car by a caregiver. Keep your car doors locked, even while in the garage, to help prevent the accidental entrapment of a curious child.
Bathroom and laundry room
Bathrooms are one of the most dangerous places in your home for several reasons. First, poisonous substances can often be found in bathrooms, like cleaning supplies and nail polish remover. In addition, it’s important to make sure that your kids don’t have easy access to medications.
Some bathroom and laundry room dangers are:
- Personal care tools
- Personal care chemicals
- Cleaning chemicals
- Heavy objects
You can lower the risk of bathroom and laundry room accidents by locking up prescription drugs or storing them out of reach of children. If you no longer need the medication, or it has expired, properly dispose of it before it becomes a hazard to someone else in the house. Keep cleaners out of reach, too, in the same manner as you would in your kitchen or laundry room. Toilets also present the potential for accidental drownings, so you might consider installing latches on the toilet seats to stop a child from reaching the water.
In the laundry room, all cleaning products should be stored out of reach or locked away. Keep items such as laundry cleaning pods and laundry detergent in childproof packaging and out of reach. Do not forget about the appliances. Make sure your washer and dryer are secure and not in danger of tipping over. Keep your dryer’s lint trap cleaned out to lower the risk of house fires. You should also have your dryer vents blown out at least once per year.
While there are numerous obvious and hidden dangers around the house, taking time to evaluate them and working to prevent potential accidents are safety measures well worth taking. Unfortunately, many normal items in your household can pose a significant risk to young children. Whether you’re expecting a child or already have young children, it’s never too late to start childproofing your home. Taking simple precautions, like locking chemicals in a cabinet and latching appliances to walls, may help prevent serious accidents in young kids and will keep your entire family safe.