- Smoke detectors save many lives. There should be at least one on each floor of your home, and more if possible, especially in children’s rooms. Smoke detectors should be regularly tested and always have fresh batteries. It’s one of the least expensive yet best investments you can make for your family.
- Don’t smoke in bed. The leading cause of house fires where a child has died is smoking in bed.
- Work out an action plan with the whole family about what you will all do in case of a fire. Plan and practice alternative escape routes from every room in your home.
- You should own and know how to use at least one all-purpose fire extinguisher. Be sure your extinguisher is always fully charged, and regularly inspected by a trained technician.
- If you have disposable lighters in the house, make sure they are child resistant.
- One of the most common bathroom injuries comes from scalding hot tap water. Therefore always run bath water and test the water temperature yourself before the child gets in. Besides these measures, one of the very best ways to prevent hot tap water scalding is to set the maximum temperature on your hot water tank to 120° F (49° C).
- Bathtub and toilet drownings are also quite common. In fact, a child can drown in just a few inches of water. So always pay full attention to your child in the bath. Have everything you need for bath time close at hand, and don’t leave your child in order to answer the phone or door – even while the bath is just being filled. It’s not worth the risk.
- To avoid injuries and drownings from bathtub falls, use a slip-resistant mat or decals. Also, discourage standing in the bathtub.
- Keep toilet lids closed at all times. Better yet, install and use toilet lid latches.
- At all times keep all medications, vitamins, cosmetics and personal care items safely out of reach and locked away in the medicine cabinet or cupboard. Also be sure to keep cleaning products and other chemicals locked away and out of child’s reach. To further help prevent poisonings, install and always use child-resistant cupboard locks and drawer latches.
- Always use properly sealed child-resistant packages for all medications, even for vitamins. Also bear in mind that many child poisonings from medication, vitamins and minerals happen at grandparents’ homes and other such places where child-resistant packaging is not customarily used.
- Instead of holding baby while you cook, or while reaching for the upper shelves, put her in a play pen, or on a play mat on the floor near a wall, ideally in a corner. It’s a lot less trouble if baby has her own regular, out-of-the-way spot, where everyone in the house knows to expect her.
- Beware of holding baby while also handling a hot drink. If you must, be sure the drink is at most only warm, never steaming. Spilled hot tea or coffee could seriously burn your baby.
- Many children are poisoned by household chemical products. It is customary for us to keep cleaning supplies, etc. below the sink. But get into the habit of keeping these products on upper shelves, completely out of the reach of children.
- Look for products that come in child resistant packages.
- Don’t leave sharp objects unattended. Sharp dangers even include small things like plastic bread bag hooks and wire twist-ties, which should be kept in a safe place or put in the garbage so they don’t fall into the wrong hands.
- Don’t leave anything hot unattended. Make a habit of turning pot handles away from the edge of the stove, counter-top or table.
Stairs and Window Safety:
- Falls down stairs are an all too common cause of head injuries and other serious injuries. Therefore properly install stair gates at the top and bottom of all stairways, and always ensure they are properly closed. The reason for installing stair gates at the bottom of staircases is to ensure that a child can’t climb up the stairs then fall back down.
- Ensure that all windows are secure and locked.
- Install window-guards that stop children from falling out, but which can also be opened in case of fire.
- If secure windows are your landlord’s responsibility, insist that necessary maintenance be done immediately.
Pediatrician DR.PAUL Roumeliotis is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The information provided above is designed to be an educational aid only. It is not intended to replace the advice and care of your child’s physician, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you suspect that your child has a medical condition always consult a physician.