There are two steps everyone can take to protect children at home.
First, childproof your home. The best way to find dangers your child might encounter is to explore your home at her level - by getting down on your hands and knees. Cover every room, asking yourself what looks tempting and what is within reach (between the floor and about 40 inches above). Also, check carpets for buried dangers like pins or coins.
Second, understand that childproofing can never be 100 percent effective. That's why it's so important to supervise your children at all times, especially around water, in the kitchen and bathroom, and wherever known hazards exist.
In the kitchen:
Keep hot foods and liquids away from young children. Each year, nearly 26,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms for scald burns.
Use the back burners on the stove and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
Keep glassware, knives, appliance cords, placemats and tablecloths out of reach and away from the edge of counters and tables. If your child is visiting someone else's home, ensure dangerous items are stored out of reach during your child's stay.
In the bathroom:
Set the thermostat of your hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the chance of scald burns. It takes just three seconds for a child to sustain a third degree burn from water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lock medicine cabinets. Even items as seemingly harmless as iron pills and mouthwash can be dangerous for a young child.
Install toilet locks. Unlike adults, children's weight is concentrated in the top half of their bodies. When they lean into a toilet bowl, they may lose their balance, fall forward and drown in as little as 1 inch of water.
Request child-resistant packaging. But keep in mind that child-resistant containers are not childproof. These medicines still need to be locked up out of a child's reach.
Remove sharp utensils and appliances. Razors, scissors and blow dryers are better kept in an adult's bedroom, locked out of children's reach.
In the bedroom:
Beware of old cribs. Baby furniture built even a decade ago might not meet some of today's safety standards. Sharp edges, corner post protrusions and dangerously spaced slats can be deadly.
Keep beds and cribs away from windows and drapery.
Children can strangle in drapery cords or fall from windows that are accessible from the bed or crib. Consider purchasing cordless window coverings to avoid these hazards.
Around the house:
Check for fire hazards. Look for frayed electrical wires or flammable materials near heat sources such as space heaters. Never run electrical cords under rugs. Make sure that your home, and any home your child visits, has working smoke alarms in every sleeping area and on every level.
Install carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and check batteries often. Exposure to even low levels of this poisonous gas can be fatal to a small child.
Use safety gates. Stair falls tend to result in severe injuries. Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to keep infants and toddlers out of harm's way.
Cover all unused electrical outlets.
If firearms are kept in the house, keep them locked, unloaded and stored out of reach. Secure ammunition in a separate, locked location.
Install window guards on all windows that are not emergency exits. Window guards can be purchased at your local hardware store.
Post emergency numbers by telephones. Post phone numbers for the poison control center, pediatrician, police, fire department, emergency medical services and a neighbor by every telephone.
Keep first aid supplies on hand. Have a one ounce bottle of ipecac syrup for each of your children, but use it only on the advice of the poison control center or a physician.
Reprinted courtesy of the National Safe Kids Campaign.
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