Creating secure surroundings for your family.
Unintentional injuries are the number one cause of death in children under the age of 14 years, and more than a third of these injuries occur in the home. Providing a safe environment for your family should be a top priority.
Childproofing each room of your home will keep your kids safe and give you peace of mind. Safeguarding tips for your home follow.
* Replace cribs and furniture painted before 1978 (they may contain lead)
* Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. Cribs should not have drop sides
* Make sure the crib mattress is firm, flat and fits snugly against the sides of the crib. Keep pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads and soft bedding out of the crib
* Bolts and screws should be secure
* Mobiles should not have hanging ribbons or strings
* The changing table should have a safety belt
* Dressers and bookcases must be tethered to walls
* Toy chest/storage container lids should be non-locking, with a support to prevent them from slamming shut
* Plugged-in nightlights should not touch fabric (bedspreads, curtains, etc.)
* Kids should wear flame-retardant sleepwear, free of any drawstrings
* Supervise young children playing with toys that have small or removable parts. Store toys when not in use.
Your Bedroom/Guest Rooms
* Store all small or sharp objects or decorative items out of children’s reach
* Secure fi rearms in a locked case, unloaded, with the safety on. Store ammunition separately in a locked container. Hide keys from children.
* Store knives, forks, scissors and other sharp items in a drawer that has a childproof latch
* Install dishwasher locks so kids cannot open the door while it’s running, and cannot reach breakable dishes, knives and other dangerous objects
* Use stove locks and knob protectors to protect against burns
* Position chairs and step stools away from the stovetop.
* When cooking, turn all pot handles inward or place pots on the back burner
* Store glass objects and appliances with sharp blades out of children’s reach
* Keep all appliances with cords unplugged and out of reach when not in use
* Keep garbage cans behind a cabinet door with a childproof latch
* Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet
* Keep the space under the sink free of cleaning supplies, insect repellants, dishwashing detergents and liquids, etc.
* Keep alcoholic beverages out of reach
* Keep plastic garbage bags, cords, wires, refrigerator magnets or other small objects out of reach
* Install childproof latches on all cabinet doors
* Make sure the hot water heater thermostat is set below 120° F (49° C)
* Store razor blades, nail scissors and other sharp tools in a locked cabinet or drawers with childproof latches.
* All outlets should have ground-fault circuit interrupters, which protect against electrocution if appliances get wet
* Leave toilet lids closed with a lid lock if you have small children
* Store hair dryers, curling irons and electric razors unplugged if not in use
* Use nonskid mats in showers and tubs
* Use nonslip pads under rugs
* Store all prescription/nonprescription medications, cosmetics, health and vitamin supplements, mouthwash, perfumes, hair dyes, nail polishes, polish remover and cleaners in locked cabinets
* Hang mirrors and frames securely
Doors & Windows
* Install finger-pinch guards on all doors. Use childproof locks on sliding doors
* Remove rubber tips from all doorstops. Removed by small children easily, they can become choking hazards
* Use doorknob covers so young children cannot accidentally open doors
* Window-guard upper-story windows
* Tie or secure window blinds and curtain cords with specially designed cord clips, and keep out of reach and away from cribs.
* Secure bookshelves and other furniture with wall brackets (tethers) so they cannot be pulled or tipped over
* Install protective padding on corners of coffee tables, furniture, fi replace mantles and counter tops with sharp edges
* Mount flat-screen televisions securely to the wall. Older, heavy TVs should sit on low, stable furniture
* Install hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs
* Clear stairs of tripping/falling hazards
* Install guards on banisters and railings, so kids cannot fit through and fall
* Keep the basement door locked.
Garage & Laundry Area
* Store gardening, automotive and lawn care tools and supplies out of kids’ reach
* Keep garage doors locked
* Store hazardous products out of reach
* Childproof-lock laundry chutes
Outdoors, Backyard & Pool
* Keep walkways and stairways well lit and free of clutter
* Playground equipment should be free of rust, splinters and sharp edges. The surface beneath should be soft and cushioned with sand, mulch, wood chips or approved rubber-surfacing mats
* Install at least four-foot high, climb proof fencing around the pool
* Remove ladders from above ground pools when not in use
Heating & Cooling Elements
* Cover radiators and baseboard heaters with childproof screens
* Secure gas fireplaces with a valve cover or key, hidden from children
* Fireplaces should have a screen or other barrier in place when in use
* Position electric space heaters at least three feet from flammable objects
* Unplug and store heaters when not in use
Emergency Equipment & Phone Numbers
* Post a list of emergency phone numbers near each phone
* Have an emergency ladder for the upper floors of your home, which family members should know how to use.
* Make a family emergency exit plan, and practice at least twice a year
* Install smoke detectors in each room and hallway, and perform a monthly check to make sure they are working. Change batteries every six months
* Install carbon monoxide detectors in homes that use natural gas or that have an attached garage
* Make sure fire extinguishers are full and not expired, and that all family members know how to use them.
Your family’s safety and security are well worth the effort of childproofing. Safeguards you put in place will become part of your family’s healthy habits and help keep your kids out of harm’s way.
Robin Denise Schier, DNP, APRN, CPNP, AC/PC, is a board-certifi ed primary and acute care PNP with 15 years of experience in pediatric emergency medicine and trauma. She is manager of Advanced Practice Providers West Campus and is currently practicing in the Emergency Center at Texas Children’s Hospital.