Keeping Children Safe: Baby-Proofing Tips
One of the most exciting moments as a new parent is when children begin to walk and crawl, gaining their independence. Oftentimes, new parents will instinctively document the milestone and share their pride by posting videos on social media. After the rush of excitement for a child’s achievement, parents often become nervous fearing their child’s newfound independence will lead to an injury. How can parents keep their children safe, now that they are moving?
All caregivers, including parents, daycare workers, and nannies must baby proof their homes or facilities. Without proper baby proofing, children risk burns, poisoning, suffocation, and falls.
Children between the ages of one and four are more likely to die from causes within the home than a stranger’s violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children in the United States. Each year, around 9.2 million individuals from age zero to nineteen seek emergency medical treatment for unintentional injuries and more than 12,00 die from their injuries.
Read on for tips to create a safe environment for newly exploring babies and toddlers.
One of the classic baby-proofing items, the baby gate, remains a critical piece of safety equipment for preventing young one’s injuries. Baby gates are used to keep children away from dangerous parts of the house, such as staircases, fireplaces, and dangerous windows.
When installing a baby gate, keep these important considerations in mind:
- Installing the gates correctly is critical for safe and effective functioning. If gates are mounted incorrectly, they can be pushed down by children, possibly causing additional injury. Gates that screw into the walls provide a more secure foundation than pressure-mounted gates.
- Gates should be installed before a child begins crawling or walking.
- Use a gate at the top and bottom of the staircase.
- Keep items that a toddler may use to climb over the gate away from the gate or out of reach.
Our experienced San Antonio child injury attorneys have the skill, commitment, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your child’s rights and recover just compensation. Leave baby gates standing until you are sure your child can safely navigate the risks the baby gate was protecting them from.
Lock away all firearms and other weapons and place them where small children cannot get to them. Consider fixing them with trigger locks. Store all guns unloaded.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that children are more likely than adults to be injured by electrical receptacles. Each year, 1,500 children under the age of five sustain injuries involving an electrical outlet. Fortunately, beginning in 2008 the National Electric Code (NEC) was updated to require tamper-resistant receptacles (TRR) in new and renovated homes. In 2017, the NEC also required TRRs in any property type where children are likely to be present.
If your home was built before the NEC updated the electrical outlet requirements, you may need to obtain outlet covers to protect children from injury.
Window blinds present an often overlooked risk to children and are considered one of the top five hidden hazards in the home. Loose cords and chains on window blinds present a risk of strangulation, in particular, in children under the age of three. Between 1990 and 2015, more than 16,000 children in the U.S. were treated for injuries from window blinds.
To reduce the risk of injuries from blinds, parents should:
- Opt for cordless blinds where possible;
- Keep cords out of the reach of children;
- Position cribs and beds away from windows to limit access to cords; and
- If cords or chains are loose, install a tension device to keep them taut.
Tip-Over Risks From Furniture
Any large and heavy piece of furniture presents a risk of a tip-over accident, but the most common culprits are:
- TV stands
Much of the furniture in your home was likely in place before you needed to consider the safety of a young, active child. Now that you have a mobile child in the home, evaluate furniture that may pose a risk of tipping over and ensure you properly secure it. Anchoring kits are inexpensive and easy to install.
According to the National Capital Poison Center, children under the age of six make up almost half of all poison exposures each year. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the five most common substances creating a poison-risk for children five and under are:
- Cosmetics and personal care products
- Household cleaners
- Pain reliever medications
- Toys or other foreign bodies
- Topical preparations
To prevent childhood poisoning, the CDC recommends that parents and caregivers:
- Lock away substances that present a poison risk or keep them in locations that children can’t reach;
- Have the poison control phone number, 1-800-222-1222, readily available in case of emergencies and call immediately if you believe your child has ingested poisonous substances;
- Call 9-1-1 immediately if your child has collapsed or is not breathing;
- Follow all label instructions for any medicine and read all warnings; and
- Dispose of drugs, vitamins, and supplements that are expired or no longer being consumed in the home.
Residential Fire Hazards
The majority of fires that kill or injure children are residential fires. Over half of children aged five who die during a home fire are asleep when the fire occurs. The best thing you can do to protect your children from the risk of injury due to fire is to have working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home and in each bedroom. While the majority of homes in the U.S. have at least one smoke alarm, 25 percent do not have working smoke alarms.
In addition to smoke alarms, the following safety tips can help reduce fire and smoke inhalation risks:
- Install a sprinkler system, which can reduce death risks associated with residential fires by 73 percent.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Avoid smoking in the house.
- Keep matches, lighters, lit candles, and flammable chemicals out of reach.
Hopefully, with help from the above advice, the exciting moments of watching your child learn new skills and become mobile do not involve your child sustaining injuries. If your child has suffered personal injuries, please contact or call us at 210-225-0909 to schedule an appointment today.