National Child Safety and Protection Month is an entire month dedicated to recognizing the unique potential dangers many children face in their everyday lives and taking tangible steps of prevention against those challenges.
Taking safety measures can help reduce the number of unintentional injuries and deaths. In honor of Child Safety and Protection Month, we encourage you to take precautions to keep children safe. Talk to them about potential dangers and teach them what to do in case of an emergency.
For children less than one year of age, two–thirds of injury deaths are due to suffocation. It is so important to place your baby on their back to sleep, remembering that “back is best,” and “face up to wake up.” Do not allow infants to sleep with blankets, stuffed animals, or other items before the age of one. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, these are the Top 5 Tips to Protect Your Baby:
- A firm mattress and fitted sheet are all you need for your baby’s crib. Remove blankets and toys.
- Learn to use your child’s car seat the right way. Use this basic car seat safety checklist to help.
- Make sure you have both a working smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home and in all sleeping areas. Test the alarms to make sure they work.
- Place your baby’s crib and other furniture away from windows and blinds. Your baby is safer without any strings or cords within reach.
- Set your water heater to 120F to avoid scalds.
Safety at Home
Children should be safe at home. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, 12,175 children ages birth to 19 die each year in the United States from an unintentional injury. It was found that an estimated 9.2 million children annually had an initial emergency department visit for an unintentional injury. You can prevent some of these injuries by making sure your home is a safe environment for children of all ages.
Thousands of children are treated or hospitalized each year because of accidental poisonings within their own homes. The CDC found that children between the ages of 1 to 4 years had the highest rates of poisoning. These tips from the American Association of Poison Control Centers can make your home safer:
- Keep cleaning supplies, medicines, garden chemicals, and toxic art supplies locked away or on a high shelf. Make sure these items are put away immediately after each use.
- Purchase over the counter and prescription medicines with childproof caps. Keep them on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet, not on your bedside table.
- Keep vitamins and minerals such as iron out of reach. They can be hazardous, even fatal, to children.
- Never use food containers to store nonfood substances.
- Have the Poison Control Center’s phone number readily available (1-800-222-1222).
Safeguard Your Bathroom
The bathroom is often a dangerous place for young children due to its combination of hot water and wet floors. To help minimize the risk for injury, parents should turn the water heater temperature down, safely secure all razors and other medicine cabinet items and install slip-resistant mats and a toilet lock.
Functioning Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
When it comes to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, early detection is essential. Without a functional alarm system, parents may not become aware of the presence of fires or carbon monoxide leaks until it’s too late.
This means it’s imperative to install detectors throughout the house and check batteries regularly. Don’t wait for low battery signals to start beeping — check detectors on a regular basis to ensure they still work.
Cover Electrical Outlets
A child’s naturally inquisitive behavior can lead to life-threatening injuries when it comes to electrical outlets or frayed wires.
Be sure to cover all outlets with childproof covers and make sure the cords attached to appliances and other devices are in good condition. Teach your children to avoid touching these items and to never mix electricity with water.
Safety with Water
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages one to four. It’s incredibly vital to monitor children when swimming or near a water source, provide adequate safety swimming materials and stay close by in case children experience any issues. Never leave a child unattended in a bath.
The following is a partial checklist of things you can do around the house to keep children safe:
- Keep things tidy. Keep walkways and areas near stairs clear of clutter to help prevent falls. Storage bins offer a great way to store toys and baby supplies, preventing anyone from tripping.
- Safety when cooking. When cooking, use the back burners of the stove and turn handles toward the back of stove, so children can’t reach or knock the pots over.
- Safety with Food. Choking on food can be a serious hazard for many children, both young and old. Some foods are more dangerous, such as hot dogs, hard candies and nuts. Foods like these cause up to 40% of all child choking deaths. Help prevent potential issues by monitoring what your child eats and breaking or cutting it up into smaller bites whenever possible.
- Use safety gates. Even before your baby crawls, install safety gates and protect curious children from harm. Hardware mounted gates should be installed at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Prepare for bedtime: Remove all soft, fluffy and loose bedding from the baby’s sleep area. This includes pillows, blankets, quilts, bumper pads, sleep positioners, sheepskins, stuffed toys and other soft products.
- Be mindful of plants. Choose decorative plants that are nontoxic. Common household plants can often cause serious sickness.
- Update your exterior. Place a welcome mat outside your home or apartment. Pesticides and other toxins may be carried inside on the soles of people’s shoes.
- Lock it up. Put locks on anything and everything that can open.
- Be cautious of choking hazards. Be vigilant about coins, marbles, keys, jewelry, paper clips, water bottle tops, safety pins, removable rubber tips on doorstops, jeweled decorations on children’s clothing, and crayons. Keep coin lithium batteries, or “button batteries,” and any devices that contain them, out of reach of children; they can be fatal if swallowed.
- Check out your furniture. Use angle braces or anchors to secure large furniture to the wall. Place TVs, VCRs and stereo systems on lower furniture, as far back as possible.
- Hot water: Set hot water heaters no higher than 120 degrees F. A lower water temperature reduces the chance of scald burns. Munchkin’s White Hot Super Safety Bath Ducky can help you manage the temperature of water in your children’s baths.
Child Car Safety Tips
Auto accidents account for the largest number of unintentional deaths to children. We can take steps to reduce the risk of serious injury or death to child passengers if a car crash does happen.
- Car seats exist for a reason. They are there to keep children safe in the event of an accident. But many people fail to make sure that their child’s car seat is installed properly. Checking that children are properly secured in their car seat can save a life.
- It is crucial to be aware of car seat recalls. If your child’s car seat is defective, get it fixed immediately.
- Follow laws regarding child passenger safety. Use the correct car seat for your child’s size, make sure older kids are wearing their seatbelt, and don’t let children sit in the front seat until they are 13.
Child Product Safety
Some products, including toys, clothes, and cribs, are made specifically for child use. Children’s products are required to follow certain laws to be deemed safe. When these products are dangerous or defective, they present an injury risk.
- Be aware of recalls. If a product that your child uses has been recalled, replace it immediately. This includes toys, cribs, strollers, and more.
- Make sure that children have access to toys or other objects that are safe for their age. Follow the age determination guidelines for toys.
- Keep choking hazards away from children. Young children should not play with toys that have small parts or pieces that could break off. Children, particularly those under the age of five, will put anything in their mouth. Be sure to keep small items like coins and marbles out of their reach.
In honor of National Child Safety and Protection Month, help by teaching parents, families and friends how to see the world from a child’s perspective and make sure he or she stays safe. Safety is an important part of life and is important to implement it into all areas.
For parents, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of their children. Follow these tips to help keep your loved ones safe and secure.