Injuries are the leading cause of death for children in the United States, according to the CDC.
Many of these injuries happen at home, where we expect our families to be safest.
"Many parents just can't imagine it could happen to them, but it happens far too often," says Kathryn Bass, M.D., a Carilion Children’s pediatric surgeon with expertise in pediatric trauma. “But the good news is, we know how to prevent these injuries, and that means parents can take these simple steps to protect their kids."
Follow these tips from Safe Kids Worldwide to keep your home’s littlest inhabitants (or guests) safer.
Make Windows Safer
We love windows for the light they let in and the views they provide, but they can be a major hazard to children. And falls are just one of the potential dangers—window cords can cause strangulation and death.
To prevent window falls:
- Add window guards and/or locks to all windows on a second story or higher
- Remember that window screens are to keep bugs out, not kids in—they are insufficient to prevent falls
- Never place cribs, children's beds or other furniture near a window
To prevent cord strangulation:
- Choose accordion, roller shade or shutter-style window coverings; these are the safest options for homes with young children
- Eliminate dangling cords; cut cords as short as possible and cut any loops
- Use a retrofit kit to keep cords attached to the wall or window frame; the Window Covering Safety Council offers free retrofit kits
Unfortunately, windows aren’t the only falling hazard in the home—and since falls are the number one cause of non-fatal injuries in children, anyone who has children (or frequent young visitors) should take these precautions:
- Add bumpers to any bed that a child sleeps in, or just put their mattress on the floor
- Use an anti-slip mat in the bathtub
- Place wall-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of all staircases (do not use accordion-style gates, which can trap a child’s head or neck)
- Use all safety straps when placing a child in a highchair or other children’s furniture
And, whenever a young child is on or near any high surface in your home, keep them under your supervision and within arm’s reach!
Child Proof Your Furniture
Here’s how you can make your furnishings safer for kids:
- Anchor furniture like dressers, bookshelves, armoires and TV stands to a wall
- Remove kid-tempting objects, like toys or snacks, from high shelves
- Replace box TVs with flatscreen TVs and mount them to the TV stand or to a wall
- Avoid glass-top furniture
- Add corner and edge bumpers to furniture like coffee tables, nightstands and fireplace hearths