If you have young children, you know how fast they can get around. You also learn very early on that you can’t possibly be everywhere at once. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to ensure that your home is as safe as possible for your young explorers, even when you aren’t in the room with them.
On the Move
Regardless of what stage of mobility the children are in (rolling over, pulling themselves up, crawling, walking, running) they are always on the go. Once they become mobile, it is critical that you clear all potential safety issues from their paths. Aside from the tried-and-true advice of setting up safety gates and installing cupboard door latches, here are some additional ways you can avoid a potentially perilous situation for young adventurous children:
- Regularly check blinds/drapes and appliances, ensuring that cords are tied up or secured, and out of reach.
- Scan furniture for sharp edges and jutting parts, including screws.
- Ensure all furniture is solid and stable so young climbers and early walkers avoid injury.
- Keep furniture away from windows so children can’t access them and fall out.
- Use back burners on the stove when possible, and always keep pan handles turned inward.
- Keep doors to unused rooms closed, especially the bathroom.
- Make sure the toilet lid is always down and no freestanding water is ever left unattended (drowning is the first and second leading cause of death in children 1-4 and 5-9, respectively).
- Keep pillows and blankets out of cribs and away from small children while they’re sleeping (unintentional suffocation is the number one cause of death in infants).
Very young children like to touch and taste everything they can get their hands on. It’s a natural part of development because it’s a way for them to figure out ‘what’s what’ in the world. However, this method of exploration can have dire consequences (choking, poisoning) if children get their hands on the wrong objects, or put dangerous things in their mouths. So, a critical component of home safety related to young children is vigilance in ensuring that only safe objects are within their reach.
Obviously it’s important to child proof outlets, arrange furniture, secure area rugs, and move other objects that may cause a child to slip, trip or fall. But, small objects are important, too. Toys and other items that easily pass through the middle of a toilet paper roll can choke babies, toddlers and older children. So, keep all small objects out of their reach. Avoid purchasing toys that small, but otherwise only allow children to play with them when they’re being directly supervised.
Houseplants aren’t something we may typically think about as being potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, there is a long list of plants that are considered toxic for human consumption, so keep all houseplants out of children’s reach. If your child ingests part of a plant, contact your local poison control center immediately.
Thousands of items are recalled every month in the United States. Check www.recalls.gov to make sure that none of the items you own or plan to purchase are on the list. If you own a recalled item, follow the instructions listed on the website for said item. You may be eligible for a replacement or repair, depending on the type of recall.
Maintaining a safe home for your children doesn’t have to be difficult. A few bumps and bruises can be expected along the way, but with some forethought and ongoing diligence on your part, your children can make it through childhood relatively unscathed.