Most injuries to young children occur at home, according to the Government of Canada.
Falls, poisonings, burns: these and other accidents are to blame. The good news is they are preventable and, for the most part, they don’t require a lot of effort or cost to implement.
Here are ten simple tips on keeping your home safe for children.
- Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Ideally, every bedroom should have a smoke detector as well. And remember to test them monthly: a defective detector can’t save lives (it’s easy to forget the monthly testing, so put a reminder in your digital calendar). More on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors here.
- Watch out for drapes and other window coverings with cords, which are a strangulation hazard for kids. If your window coverings have cords, secure the cords to the floor or keep them out of reach with wall brackets.
- When you’re cooking around youngsters, try to use the back burners of the stove and always turns pot and frying pan handles away from the front of the stove so little hands can’t reach them. In fact, turning handles away from the front is a smart move even when no kids are around — it could save you from a nasty burn.
- Button or coin batteries — the kind we use in watches, key fobs and other common consumer items — are wonderful inventions because they are powerful and long lasting. Shiny and small, they also appeal to children who can suffer severe injury to the esophagus or intestines if batteries are inhaled or swallowed. Keep spare batteries in a high cupboard and dispose of old batteries correctly.
- Young kids love putting things into other things, including electrical outlets. Don’t take any chances around electricity: use safety plugs for empty outlets and keep power bars and extension cords out of children’s reach.
- Bookcases, dressers, televisions and other top-heavy household items should be anchored to the wall so a child can’t pull it over on herself. Wall anchor kits are available at Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Amazon and elsewhere.
- Children’s urge to explore is a healthy instinct but if it involves an open window it can be disastrous. Window guards, available at hardware and building materials stores, can keep your little ones safe. As an extra precaution, keep dressers, tables and other climbable items away from windows.
- Use non-slip floor mats on bathroom floors and in the shower and tub. This will keep adults safe as well as the little ones.
- Are medications, household cleaners, cannabis and other potentially dangerous substances within easy reach of children? According to one study, over 12,000 children aged 0-14 wound up in emergency departments in 2018 due to accidental poisonings. Learn how to prevent accidental poisonings in your home.
- Be extra-vigilant around water, including pools, beaches and the like. We get distracted, kids move quickly and unexpectedly, and every summer we hear of children drowning. Swimming lessons are one of the greatest gifts we can give our children and grandchildren: not only will lessons keep them safe, kids will learn the joys of swimming and experience the health benefits that go with it.