Our homes have turned into much more than places to relax and spend time together. There are many new distractions as families work from home, educate children and focus on staying healthy. With those distractions come safety risks inside our homes that often go unnoticed.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, on average 2,200 children die each year from an injury in a home. Approximately 3.5 million children visit the emergency department for the types of injuries that may happen inside of a home. Safe Kids Florida Suncoast recommends some tips to create a safer space for your entire family.
Scan each room for safety hazards
Looking at safety in your home room by room is the recommended way to secure your home. Start with the living room and apply this method to all rooms in your house.
- Make sure all furniture is secured. Using brackets, wall straps, anchors, braces and other anti-tip devices can help prevent furniture from tipping over if your child happens to climb on it or pull on drawers. You can request a furniture-anchoring kit from this organization.
- Flat-screen TVs can also tip over very easily. Make sure any flat-screen televisions are mounted to the wall. If you have a box-style TV, make sure it is positioned on a low table that is secured.
- Small objects are choking hazards for young children. Make sure small items are not at the child’s eye level and are out of reach. When playing games, always follow the age-appropriate restrictions on the game or the toys. Visit Safe Kids Worldwide to learn about product recalls on household items.
- While cooking, use the back burners on your stove and turn handles of all pots away from the edge of the stove. Keep all hot liquids and foods away from this edge. This makes it less likely for young children to reach the pot and spill its hot contents.
- Keep cleaning products out of a child’s reach or use childproofing locks or latches on cabinets to prevent children from entering the area where the cleaning items are stored.
- If your house has multiple floors, secure the staircases using safety gates. Secure the top and bottom ends of the stairs by attaching the gates to the walls, if possible.
- Window guards are another safety option for multi-story homes. These safety products prevent children from falling out of open windows.
- Safe sleeping conditions are especially for children under the age of 1. A baby’s crib should only have a firm mattress with a fitted sheet. Keep all toys, blankets, and pillows out of the crib at night and during naps.
- It is safe to share your room with your baby. Babies should be placed to sleep on their backs in their crib. Parents should not bring their children to sleep with them on the couch or in their bed.
- Families may store medications in the bathroom or in other rooms of the home. Medicine may be tempting because it can look like candy to a child. Store medications in tamper-proof containers out of reach and sight of children. If your child ingests medication, cosmetics, detergent pods, chemicals or other substances, contact Poison Control 1-800-222-1222.
- Remember to watch children at all times when they are in or around water. Empty all tubs, buckets and containers immediately after use and store them upside down so they do not collect water.
- Close all toilet seat lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. Keep the door to the bathroom closed.
- Laundry and dishwasher detergent pods may pose hazards to children. Keep these out of reach and sight.
- If there is a firearm in your home, safe storage is key. The safest way to store a firearm is unloaded with a child-resistant gunlock — some law enforcement agencies may be able to provide you with a lock or guide you on where to find one. The firearm should be out of sight and out of reach of children in a locked container or safe. Ammunition should be stored separately from the firearm in its own locked container. Children as young as 3 years old may be strong enough to pull a trigger. Leaving a firearm in your closet, on a nightstand or anywhere a child can access can lead to injuries and fatalities. If you decide you no longer need a gun in your home, consult with local law enforcement about the safest way to dispose of it.
Petra Vybiralova is the Safe Kids supervisor at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Safe Kids Florida Suncoast, led by Johns Hopkins All Children’s, is a coalition of community organizations and partners committed to reducing the frequency and severity of injuries and fatalities to children.