When was the last time you crawled around your home on your hands and knees? As strange as it sounds, give it a go. Kids explore their everyday environments, so it’s important to see things as they do to make sure your home is safe.
We often think of babies and toddlers when we hear the words “babyproofing” or “childproofing.” And it’s true that young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that’s where they spend most of their time. But accidental injury is the leading cause of death in kids up to 14 years old — and more than a third of these injuries happen at home.
Common causes of home-injury deaths are fire and burns, suffocation, drowning, choking, falls, poisoning, and guns.
Most household accidents happen in areas with:
- water: in the bathroom, kitchen, swimming pools, or hot tubs
- heat or flames: in the kitchen or at a barbecue grill
- toxic substances: under the kitchen sink, in the medicine cabinet, in the garage or garden shed, or even in a purse or other place where medicines are stored
- the potential for a fall: on stairs, slippery floors, from high windows, or from tipping furniture
- choking hazards: including an unsafe sleep environment, foods that pose a choking risk (like grapes or hot dogs), button batteries, and items inside and outside the home that could entrap or strangle a child
You can make these places safer, but the most important safeguard is to watch young kids at all times. Even if your home is childproofed, it only takes an instant for babies and toddlers to fall, run over to a hot stove, or put the wrong thing in their mouths. Your watchfulness is your child’s best defense.
However, accidents will still happen, so it’s important to be prepared. If you’re expecting a baby or have kids, it’s wise to:
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the age-appropriate Heimlich maneuver.
- Keep these numbers near the phone (for yourself and caregivers):
- emergency and poison-control number
- doctor’s number
- parents’ work and cell phone numbers
- neighbor’s or nearby relative’s number (if you need someone to watch other kids in case of an emergency)
- Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside.
- Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries regularly.