Most parents want to keep their children safe at all times. Yet, we sometimes let our guard down at home. Home is where your children should feel their safest. But sadly, each year there over 4 million emergency room visits involving children with injuries sustained at home.
Home safety is mostly common sense. But our fast-paced and often frantic lives provide opportunities for mishaps and accidents. Protecting your children will be easier if you are aware of these three hidden dangers in your home.
Gravity. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It prevents us from floating away, yet it often does so harshly. The World Health Organization estimates that 540,000 people worldwide died from falls in 2010. And falls are the second leading cause of death in the home, leading to an estimated 6,000 fatalities annually according to the Home Safety Council.
Falls are also the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children ages 0 to 19. Every day, approximately 8,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. This adds up to almost 2.8 million children each year.
How to Stay Safe
- Eat a Health Diet & Exercise – It may sound silly, but staying healthy and strong can help you avoid falling, or at least help minimize the damage if you do fall.
- Avoid Unstable Shoes – These include high heels, oversized shoes or slippers, shoes with slick soles and even walking around in socks. This is especially true if you have slick flooring in your home such as hardwood floors, ceramic tile or linoleum.
- Remove Tripping Hazards – There are too many to list, but here are a few: toys, clothes, and shoes, of course! You can also secure loose rugs and electrical cords.
- Use Non-Slip Mats – These are perfect for bathrooms, bathtubs, kitchens and entry doors.
- Clean Up Spills – Immediately!
- Light up the Place – Make sure you have adequate lighting throughout the house to find your way easier.
Fire departments in the U.S. responded to 370,000 home structure fires in 2011, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. These fires resulted in 2,520 deaths and 13,910 injuries. The number one culprit was cooking, with the kitchen being the leading area for fires at 42%. Only 7% of fires started in bedrooms and a mere 4% in family rooms or dens. Home fires tend to occur mostly between the hours of 5:00 and 8:00 pm.
How to Stay Safe
- Install Smoke Detectors – This seems obvious, but three out of five reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarm present or none operable. Maintain your alarms by testing and replacing the batteries at least twice per year.
- Check Appliances and Electrical Equipment – Look for frayed wires or a burning smell when in use. Replace immediately if you notice either of these.
- Monitor Space Heaters and Fireplaces – Only use space heaters by following their safety guidelines. Keep the fire in fireplaces and use fire screens. Space heaters and fireplaces can be attractive to children for both their warmth and the almost magical qualities of fire. Close supervision is critically important if you use either in your home. Also, having your chimney cleaned annually will help reduce fire risk.
- Plan an Escape Route – Have a plan in place and make sure every member of your family knows what to do in case of a fire. Keep fire extinguishers readily available throughout your home.
Over 300 children are treated for poisoning in the emergency room every day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sadly, two of those children die each day. Poisonous items come in many forms, and some are as common as household cleaners and medicines.
How to Stay Safe
- Keep Them Out of Reach – Lock up or store poisonous items out of reach of children. Remember that children are often more adept than we give them credit for being. Meaning, they can and will figure out how to open child-proof containers.
- Dispose of It – Throw away old, unused household chemicals such as paint, thinners, cleaners and other potentially dangerous substances. If it’s highly toxic and you have no plans to use it, consider discarding it or giving it away.
- Know This Number – 800-222-1212. This is the number to the national Poison Help Line. Post it near your home telephone and add it to your mobile phone contact list.
Learn more about poisoning prevention from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
I hope you all enjoy a happy and safe Labor Day weekend!