We all know that an injury to a child can happen in mere seconds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injuries, such as those caused by burns, drowning, falls, poisoning and road traffic, are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children in the United States. However, there are specific ways to childproof your home to help avoid injury.
March 19-25, 2017 is National Poison Prevention Week, and we at Decof, Decof & Barry want to take this opportunity to help you and your family make your home a “home safe home.” Children act fast and so do poisons. On average, over 3,000 children a year swallow poisonous lithium ion button batteries and the results can be fatal.
Here are some safety tips to help keep children away from poisonous objects:
Keep small electronics and remotes with small “button” batteries out of the reach of children. Also, look them over regularly to make sure the battery doors are properly closed and functioning. If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Take them to the emergency room right away. Also, keep the number for the National Button Battery Ingestion Hotline easily available, 1-202-625-3333.
Keep liquid laundry packets and other cleaning products in locked cabinets or up high and out of the reach of children. Poison centers receive many calls each year about children getting into laundry detergent. Swallowing it often causes mild stomach upset, if there are any symptoms at all. However, poison center experts say the new highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry detergent packets seem to be different in that exposure can cause much more serious problems, including respiratory issues and chemical burns. As a result, Consumer Reports no longer recommends their use.
Purchase plain, unscented and alcohol-free hand sanitizer and keep it out of children’s reach. A new CDC study finds that thousands of children have gotten sick from drinking alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizers come in tempting brightly colored packaging and now can come with bubble gum and lemonade scents. As a result, the number of children drinking it is increasing. The problem is these products are toxic and can be 40% to 95% alcohol. So, drinking just a little bit is akin to your child drinking a shot or two of hard liquor.
Keep all medicines out of reach, too. In 49% of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the medicine involved belonged to a relative. Remember, when guests visit, make sure coats and purses are also kept up high and out of reach as they may contain medications in pillboxes and other non-childproof containers.
Check for lead based paint and remove any peeling paint or lead paint on chewable surfaces.
Have the phone number for the Poison Help line handy. It is 1-800-222-1222.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to help children avoid other potential home hazards:
Never leave your child unattended in the tub or near any pool of any depth, even little backyard pools. The number one cause of unintentional accidental death for children ages 1-4 is drowning.
Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home to make sure they are properly located, not expired, are working and have fresh batteries. Then recheck them and replace their batteries every 6 months. Set a schedule. For example, January 1st and June 1st, or when you change the clocks for daylight savings.
Help prevent burns by cooking on back burners with panhandles pointing in.
Never leave your toddler alone in the kitchen.
Turn your water heater down to 120Fto prevent scalding burns.
Put outlet covers over electrical outlets to prevent electrical burns.
Use the right safety gate at the top and bottom of staircases and attach them to walls where possible. Make sure to read the box carefully as not all gates are safe for use at the top of stairs. Injuries due to falls are the leading cause of nonfatal unintentional injuries to children.
Move chairs and other furniture away from windows.
Install window guards to prevent window falls.
Be sure to secure all large TV’s and tall furniture with wall straps, brackets or braces. According to statistics, every 45 minutes a child visits an emergency room due to injuries from large TV’s and large pieces of furniture tipping over.
Jennifer Barry is an accomplished attorney who focuses her practice on catastrophic personal injury cases, including wrongful death and medical negligence cases. In early 2013, she was appointed by Governor Lincoln Chafee to serve as a member of the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, the licensing board for all physicians in the state. Mrs. Barry is a member of the Rhode Island Association for Justice, and a Fellow of the Rhode Island Bar Foundation. Read full bio.