How to keep your kids out of harm’s way
What do burns, falls, drownings, poisonings and suffocation have in common?
They are some of the most common causes of accidental injury, which is the number-one cause of death for children and teens in the US, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent Childhood Injury Report.
In the last couple decades, better safety standards and parent-education efforts have helped cut in half the number of child deaths from accidental injuries in the US, according to the CDC. Still, roughly 15,000 kids die from accidental injuries each year – and many more are seriously injured.
“So many things around our homes and yards can be dangerous to children,” says Corinne Watson, MD, a pediatrician at Cotswold Pediatrics. “Of course you can’t keep your eyes on them 100 percent of the time, but it’s important to childproof as much as possible to reduce their risk of getting into dangerous things.”
Childproofing Tips from a Pediatrician
Kids learn by exploring and pushing their boundaries. Because they don’t fully understand what is dangerous yet, younger children often explore with their hands – and their mouths. So anything they get into, they may accidentally swallow.
“Younger kids start to understand the concept of ‘no’ and other rules in the first couple years,” says Dr. Watson. “However, they don’t develop a true understanding of danger until their school-age years. It’s always a good idea to put yourself in the eyes of your child and assume they will get into anything they can find or reach.”
Dr. Watson shares her top tips to keep your little ones safe. You also can check out this list of childproofing tips by age.
Keep Your Family Safe
- Think Like Superman: “Up, up and away!” Keep dangerous items out of sight and out of reach.
- Be Original: Keep chemicals in their original containers to avoid confusion.
- Don’t Toss Meds: Safely dispose of expired, unneeded medications. Look for community-based “drug take-back” initiatives or mix them with unpleasant substances (kitty litter, used coffee grounds, etc.) before throwing in the trash.
- Test the Air: Use carbon monoxide detectors, and check them often.
- Let in a Breeze: When using harsh chemicals indoors, open windows or use a fan.
- Pick Plants Wisely: Flowering plants, such as daffodils, Easter lilies, oleander and foxglove, can be dangerous or even poisonous.
- Know Your Home: Older homes can have lead-based paint.
- Lock It Up: Install safety locks on cabinets or storage closets that contain household cleaners, medications or personal care products.
- Keep an Eye Out: Always be attentive by the pool, even if a lifeguard is present. Invest in swim lessons to teach your kids water safety.
Look Out for These Common Household Poisons
- Medications (prescription or over-the-counter)
- Home, car, yard and landscaping products
- Washing detergent pods
- Painted toys and plumbing, whic may contain lead
- Art supplies (rubber cement, super glue, acrylic paints); look for supplies approved by the Art and Creative Materials Institute or Information Toxicology International Incorporated
Beware of Hidden Dangers
- Some vitamins taste like candy but can be toxic in large amounts, especially if they contain iron.
- Liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes can be lethal.
- Button batteries – found in musical greeting cards, remotes and key fobs – can burn through the gut if swallowed.
Get Help FAST
- If your child has an illness or injury that you feel is life-threatening, call 911 right away.
- If your child has come into contact with or swallowed a poisonous substance call the Carolinas Poison Center any time at 800-222-1222.
- Do not make your child vomit unless instructed to do so by Poison Control. It can cause more harm.
- You can call the Levine Children’s Hospital Emergency Department directly at 704-444-5437.