Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening at home. Every year, more than 3,000,000 unintentional injuries occur in the home to children (ages 14 and under) and result in emergency room visits; even more tragically, each day approximately six children die from injuries resulting from fires, burns, drownings, poisonings, choking, falls, suffocation, and strangulation in the home. Many of these injuries can be prevented by simply taking the time to properly childproof your living space - whether you are at home or away.
Tips for Childproofing your Home:
Your home should be a safe, loving environment that your child can explore with minimal chance of incurring injury; and while vigilant supervision is the most important safety precaution you can take, it’s sometimes not enough or possible. Below are some simple steps for making your home more "little-explorer" friendly and safe:
- Install standard childproofing devices and guards (according to guidelines and instructions), including:
- outlet plugs,
- cabinet and drawer locks,
- knob covers (stoves with controls on the front of the unit),
- door guards and doorknob covers,
- window stops,
- window guards,
- cord guards,
- furniture straps and brackets,
- corner guards, and
- stair gates (while pressure mounted gates can deter children, wall-mounted gates are more effective at preventing injuries from accidental falls).
- Install and check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, and be sure to change the batteries in each unit regularly.
- Set hot water heater thermostats to a maximum of 120 degrees, if you do not have control over the heating element (apartment dwellers, etc.) install an anti-scald device, which is relatively inexpensive and can be installed you or by a plumber.
- Make sure that if you are using a hotel-provided crib that it is up to standards with the Consumer Product Safety Commission: slats should not be more than 2 3/8 inches apart and all sides should be fixed (no drop sides).
- Whether using a hotel-provided crib or a port-a-crib from home, remove pillows, toys, or blankets that may cause suffocation or strangulation.
- Never leave your child alone in the bathroom.
- Unplug electrical appliances (i.e. hairdryer, razor, etc.) and store them in a locked drawer or cabinet.
- Ensure that the bathtub floor has a non-slip surface or that there are non-slip mats or decals available.
- Keep hazardous products out of the reach of children (i.e. mouthwash, shampoo, cosmetics, medications, etc.).
- Bring and install some basic childproofing gear (such as the items found in the Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit).
- Secure blind cords.
- Keep low cabinet doors shut with straps.
- Secure corner guards onto furniture.
- Place pinch guards on interior swinging doors.
- Install guards on interior sliding doors.
- Insert outlet covers into unused outlets.
- If your little traveler is curious about the toilet, be sure to place a doorknob protector on the handle or install a locking strap if the door has a lever handle.
- Ensure that all locks and latches on exterior doors are in working order and secure them to prevent unsupervised access to stairs, balconies, and terraces.
- Keep furniture away from doors and windows to prevent access to locks and accidental falls.
- Finally, be sure to arrange the furniture in a way that allows for some play space; a room full of “no-nos” will result in bored and irritated toddlers, which will lead to stressed and anxious parents!
Safe and happy exploring!