Making Safe Simple: At home
Since the majority of children’s time is spent at home, it’s not a surprise that home is where most injuries occur. Falls, bumps, and bruises are practically expected as a part of childhood, but more serious injuries such as burns, poisoning, strangulation, entrapment, pet bites, cuts, and drowning can easily be prevented. Review the safety tips below.
More than two million emergency department visits a year are related to childhood falls. Thankfully, many falls can be prevented. Prevention is not difficult. It does require your attention and some effort. Supervision is the most important thing you can do to prevent childhood injuries. Download the fall prevention PDF.
- Never leave babies unsupervised on any piece of furniture including changing tables, beds, and sofas.
- Use safety straps and other safety features on high chairs, shopping carts, and changing tables.
- Use safety covers or install padding on sharp corners.
- Use stationary “walkers” instead of wheeled walkers.
- Be sure televisions and other heavy furniture are stable and secure to prevent tipping.
- Use safety gates to keep young children away from stairs.
- Don’t place toys or items that attract children on top of furniture.
- Make sure stairs are clear of toys and other objects.
- Install window guards on all windows above the first floor.
- Do not rely on window screens to keep children from falling out.
- Point your feet out slightly like a penguin to increase your center of gravity
- Bend your legs and walk flat-footed
- Keep your hands out of your pockets; your arms can be used to help keep your balance
- If you do fall, try land on your side or bottom and don’t brace your fall with your knees, wrists, or neck; relax your muscles as you fall to reduce injury
- Review the poison prevention home checklist from the Minnesota Regional Poison Center at www.mnpoison.org.
- Keep all potential poisons up high and out of the reach of children — preferably in a locked storage container.
- Keep medications and vitamins out of the reach of children.
- Keep products in original containers. Do not use food storage containers to store poisonous substances (i.e. plant food in a drink bottle).
- Identify all household plants to determine if poisonous.
- Post the Poison Center phone number, 800-222-1222, near each phone in the home.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home.
- Set your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Cover any unused outlets.
- Install barriers around fireplaces and furnaces.
- Always supervise young children in the kitchen and around electrical appliances and outlets.
Choking, suffocation and strangulation
- Keep small objects out of reach of young children.
- Do not let children under age 3 eat small, round, or hard foods including hot dogs, hard candy, nuts, or whole grapes.
- Buy only age appropriate toys for your toddler.
- Do not allow infants or toddlers to sleep on sofas, chairs, regular beds or other soft surfaces.
- Never allow young children to play in poorly ventilated spaces such as laundry machines, car trunks, or toy chests.
- Install only cordless window coverings.
- Dogs typically don’t like hugs and kisses, particularly when it’s not on their own terms. Teach kids to respect your animal’s space.
- Don’t stare at a dog in close proximity to its face as this can be interpreted as an act of aggression.
- Dogs that are tied up, cooped in or curled up (sleeping or relaxing) may be more agitated if approached – they either want to get out or be left alone.
- Know that dogs don’t only attack when they’re angry (growling, barking, hair standing up); they can attack because they’re scared; a dog with its mouth closed, eyes wide and ears forward may indicate that it’s scared or worried.
- Recognize these behaviors in your family dog to know it’s time to stop playing and give your pet some space.
- Avoidance – hiding behind something or someone or turning its head away
- Submission – rolling on its back, licking, or leaving the room; even though the dog is giving up now, it may not some day
- Body language – tail between legs or low with only the end wagging, ears in a non-neutral position, rapid panting, licking its chops, or shaking out its fur
- Acting out – tearing up or destroying personal possessions such as toys or other items your family uses frequently, or urinating or defecating in the house; these may be signs that your dog should be seen by a behavioral professional – don’t delay!
Pets outside of the family*
- Always ask an adult’s permission before approaching or petting a dog. Start by letting the dog sniff you, then gently pet under its chin or on top of its head, but never its tail, back or legs.
- Never run or scream if a dog comes up to you.
- Never try to ride a bike away from a dog; they can run faster than you can bike.
- Always be calm around dogs and don’t look them in the eye; they may see this as an act of aggression.
- Stand still like a tree or rock and let the dog sniff you. If a dog starts biting, put whatever you have (backpack, stick, toy, etc.) in its mouth.
- Avoid dogs that are eating, playing with toys, tied up in a yard, or behind a fence; also avoid dogs who look ill or angry
- Never tease a dog by throwing things at it, barking at it, etc.
*Source: Children’s Hospital of Michigan