Learn how to make your home safe for children of all ages

Use household safety checklists and childproofing tips to eliminate common hazards in your home that can cause childhood injury and death.

Parents may be surprised to learn that every year 3.5 million children in the United States are seen in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that typically happen at home. Annually, more than 2,200 of those children die from their injuries. Suffocation, drowning, burns and falls account for many of these deaths. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, these injuries and deaths are largely preventable.

Their February 2015 Report to the Nation: Protecting Children in Your Home provides statistics about top causes of both fatal and non-fatal injuries to children which occurred in a home. Their experts surveyed parents to determine what concerns they had for their child’s safety and what they had done specifically to ensure the child’s safety at their home. The report examines common hazards that exist in various areas of a home including the kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, and around stairs. Parents don’t need to be reminded how much curious, active young children love to climb, explore and taste things. Making sure that everything within their reach is safe can be an ongoing challenge for parents. Even if you have taken precautions to secure medications out of the sight and reach of young children, make sure that visitors to your home do not leave a purse or suitcase containing their own medication where children can access them. Page 16 of the report lists top tips for maintaining a safe home for children.

Recommendations include: installing safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs; having guards or stops on windows especially on upper floors; securing heavy, unstable furniture and televisions to walls; having and practicing a home fire escape plan; and storing all household cleaners and toxins out of the sight and reach of young children.

The Safe Kids website categorizes additional safety tips into five distinct age groups from birth -19 and also addresses safety issues specific to special needs children. A comprehensive list of safety risks includes those that can be found in homes, at school, in vehicles, and at neighborhood playgrounds. Parents can also sign up to receive monthly e-newletters and child-related product recalls.

KidsHealth is another helpful resource for parents concerned about making their home as safe as possible for children. There are six checklists that parents are invited to use in completing a safety check of areas of their home. Ideally, you should answer “yes” to each question. If you are not able to do so, the checklist will assist you in identifying the specific safety risks that need to be addressed in your home. Their website provides a comprehensive list of home safety topics, printable guidelines for responding to specific medical emergencies your child may experience, and information about protecting children when outdoors engaging in active pursuits.

To learn more about how to care for young children, visit the Michigan State University Extension website. If the articles posted on the site do not contain the information you are looking for, you can contact your local Extension office or use the Expert search to find an Extension staff person who can assist you.

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