Your home is a haven for togetherness, a comforting place where memories are made. Unfortunately, however, it can also be ripe with safety hazards that put your children at risk. While there are the big safety factors to consider, like keeping kids away from the oven or making sure energetic toddlers can’t climb out of their cribs, there are many less obvious risks that are just as dangerous. That’s why it’s important to spend the time to go through your house and conduct a thorough safety check, making sure you stop to consider factors that are easily overlooked.
Check out the tips below to help you create the safest home for your family:
Install smoke alarms and periodically test them
A pan on the stovetop may catch fire or a candle can tip over, but a blaze can also start in seemingly inconspicuous ways, such as a spark escaping an outlet or a TV dinner tray being microwaved just a little too long. And in the event a fire does start, you only have a matter of seconds to evacuate your family. That’s why it’s vital to have smoke alarms installed throughout your home. Set them up on every level of your house and in every sleeping area for the best protection, recommends SafeKids.org. Make sure you’re regularly testing the alarms too and ensuring the batteries are functioning – working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent.
“Set up smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every sleeping area.”
Your kids probably love to sit in front of the tube watching their favorite cartoons, but the television can be a big safety hazard if it’s not properly secured. Large, bulky monitors and flat-screens can easily topple over and cause injury. This may not be a danger that’s ever crossed your mind, but it’s good to be aware: During the past 10 years, a child went to the emergency room every 45 minutes due to a TV that fell over. Make sure your family can safely enjoy its entertainment systems by only placing televisions on stable furniture that sits low to the ground. And if you have a mounted TV, use durable braces to ensure the device will stay firmly attached to the wall.
Hide or eliminate blind and curtain cords
The cords that hang from blinds, curtains and other types of window coverings can cause accidental strangulation. According to the Window Covering Safety Council, almost 800 children in the United States have died as a result of blind and curtain cord strangulation since 1973, and the average age of the children was 4 years old. To help prevent these incidents, make sure you keep the cords out of reach of children. Keep any cords separated so they do not form a loop, which is especially dangerous. Also, do not put your child’s bed, crib or playpen or a couch, table or bookshelf near windows with corded blinds or curtains, since children can climb up the furniture and then become entangled in the cords. And never leave your children alone unsupervised in a room where they might become entangled in cords.
Reduce choking and poisoning hazards
As their teeth grow in, little kids love to chomp on things – a teething ring, a towel, a plush toy. However, young children just can’t distinguish from what’s okay to put in their mouths and what’s not. For example, many children eat liquid detergent packets, thinking they look like colorful candies, so be sure to keep packets out of reach and out of sight of children and in a secured container. Small items like buttons, coins and jewelry are choking hazards, so make sure they’re stored where children can’t get them as well. Take stock of your child’s toy box, too – if any of the toys contain lots of small parts, they’re not safe for young children.
Kids love to climb and explore, and while that’s encouraged at the playground, it’s not so safe at home. In 2013, unintentional falls caused nearly 3 million injuries. Set up safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent falls, and don’t let kids sit on the kitchen counter or on a windowsill. And make sure that whatever area kids have access to, the windows there are shut and secured.
“Make sure you never leave a child alone while they are in the bath.”
Make bath time safe
Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for kids ages 1 to 4, according to the National Safety Council, with many of these cases involving bath time. Just a few inches of water can be a hazard, and things can change in an instant, so make sure you never leave children alone while they are in the bath. If you must go into another room to take care of something, take your child with you.
Install carbon monoxide alarms and periodically test them
In addition to smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms will also help keep your home safe, protecting against carbon monoxide poisoning, known as “the silent killer.” SafeKids.org noted that young children are extra vulnerable to CO due to their smaller bodies, so make sure you install alarms on every level of your home and near sleeping areas. When setting up alarms, make sure that they are 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.