Protecting young children doesn’t stop at babyproofing your home. As your children grow, so does their curiosity and in turn, their risk for unintentional injuries. Unintentional injuries, including burns, drowning, falls, poisoning, choking and road traffic are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children in the United States. More than 9.2 million children are hospitalized each year for nonfatal injuries.
Here are some of the most common safety hazards for children:
- Burns: Burns can include sunburns, electrical shocks or burns, or when your children come into contact with flames, hot surfaces, or hot liquid and steam.
To prevent an injury: Set your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees. Never leave hot food unattended and make sure to supervise your children at all times in the kitchen. Turn handles away from the edge of the stovetop. Also, make sure your smoke alarms are installed properly and change the batteries frequently.
- Drowning: Even small amounts of water can pose a danger to young kids. Always supervise your children when they’re around water. Some unexpected hazards include toilets, bathtubs, coolers, fountains and wells.
To prevent an injury: Keep a close watch on your children during water play, even if there’s a lifeguard or attendant available. Empty buckets and large containers when you’re not using them. Keep toilet lids and bathroom doors closed.
- Falls: Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries for children, including head injuries, fractures and sprains, and contusions or bruises. Most often, children fall from high chairs, beds, changing tables, stairs, slippery floors, shopping carts, play equipment, unsecured infant seats and baby walkers.
To prevent an injury: Screens will not protect a child from falling out of the window. Make sure to install window guards. Never leave a baby unattended on any piece of furniture, and keep a watchful eye at the playground.
- Poisoning: The most common ways children are harmed by poisoning are swallowing shampoos, perfumes and cleaning products or being exposed to carbon monoxide. Vitamins and medications are also extremely harmful if ingested.
To prevent an injury: Keep shampoos, perfumes, cleaning products and vitamins and medications out of reach of children. Make sure to dispose of expired bottles. Also, install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors.
- Choking and strangulation: Young children will put anything in their mouths and many everyday items are choking hazards, including small bits of food (including pet food), toys, batteries, bottle caps, coins, balloons, marbles, etc. Your child can also become tangled in necklaces, drawstrings on clothes, baby headbands, ties and ribbons, as well as cords on a variety of products.
To prevent an injury: Keep small toys and any choking hazards away from young children. Remember to check in hidden places, like between couch cushions or in bedsheets. Remove any loose cords or blinds from around their crib.
- Road safety: This category doesn’t just include car accidents. Children face many more hazards when it comes to road and car safety, including an incorrectly sized or improperly installed car seat, entrapment in power windows or car trunks and getting accidentally run over.
To prevent an injury: Make sure your child’s car seat is properly installed, and ensure that they always wear their seatbelt. Walk all the way around your car before getting in to make sure no children are playing nearby. When you’re not using your car, make sure all the windows and rolled up and the doors are locked, even if it’s just sitting in your driveway!
By increasing your awareness of the top safety hazards for children, you can take the necessary steps to ensure your children are safe.