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COVID-19 Injury prevention: Keeping kids safe while they’re at home
April 02, 2020
COVID-19 Injury prevention: Keeping kids safe while they’re at home

Tips to prevent injuries and keep kids safe during COVID-19

Routines are different these days. Kids are home from school and parents are challenged with juggling increased demands on their time and attention – a daunting task for even the most experienced multi-taskers. This sets the stage for an increased risk of injury.

Corri Miller-Hobbs, RN, BSN, CPN, CPST, Safe Kids Virginia program coordinator, and Safe Kids Worldwide offer the following tips:

Avoid accidental poisonings

It only takes a second for a child to swallow something they shouldn’t. Save the Poison Helpline number – 800-222-1222 – on your phone and remember these tips so you hopefully won’t need it.

  • Store cleaning products safely: As families ramp up efforts to disinfect, there may be additional and more frequent use of cleaning products. Remember to keep these products in their original containers and out of children’s reach and sight.
  • Don’t forget about medications: Be sure to keep medicine out of kids’ reach and sight as well. Don’t forget purses, nightstands and other places you may tuck medicine or vitamins. Curious kids will find them!

Read more tips for preventing poisonings and medication mishaps.

Prevent falls

Kids love adventure and they’re great at finding things to climb and explore, especially when Mom or Dad is distracted. Unintentional falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for kids in the U.S.

  • Strap them in: When placing babies/toddlers in high chairs, strollers or swings, be sure to secure them with the straps.
  • Guard the stairs: Install approved safety gates at the top AND bottom of stair cases. Follow the installation instructions and ensure that your specific gate is approved for the top of the stairs.
  • Secure TVs and furniture: Use mounts, brackets or wall straps to secure televisions and top-heavy furniture to prevent tip-overs.

Prevent choking and strangulation

  • Cut food: Food for little ones should be cut in tiny pieces. Round, hard foods are especially dangerous and should not be given to children under the age of 5. These include hot dogs, cheese sticks, hard candy, nuts, grapes, marshmallows and popcorn.
  • Separate toys by age: Keep toys intended for older kids, especially those with batteries and/or small pieces, separate from the toys safe for little ones.
  • Keep cords out of reach: Cords from window blinds should be tucked up and out of reach. While you’re at it, move furniture away from windows and properly install window guards to prevent climbing/falls.

Cook safely

Adults may be cooking while simultaneously watching kids, or trying to get work done. Older kids might be taking on new responsibilities during the day, including helping with meal prep. Review these tips for minimizing distractions and maximizing safety.

  • Baby-free zone: Teach little ones to stay at least three feet from the oven/stove. If they’re too young to understand, place them in a high chair or find another safe way to secure them where you can still see them while you cook. Remember not to carry or hold a child while cooking.
  • Use the back burner: Keep kids them from pulling hot food or liquids onto them by using the back burners when cooking and turning pot handles away from the edges of counters.
  • Stay in the kitchen: Remind teens that they must tend to food while cooking and that oven mitts or potholders are a must when handling hot pots and pans.
  • Use caution with the microwave: A common cause of burns that bring kids into our ER are scalds that occur when taking hot food out of the microwave. Adults should help with this step, especially when microwaves are overhead. Remind kids to slowly open containers that have been in the microwave, as steam can burn fingers and faces.

Carefully walk or ride outside

While most people’s time is spent in the home these days to prevent the spread of coronavirus, getting outside to stretch and play a bit is important too. If your family’s outside play involves taking a walk or going for a bike ride, review the following safety tips before setting off on your adventure or allowing your kids to go alone.

  • Wear a helmet: Make sure your kids wear properly-fitting helmets on every ride. And, if you’re going with them, be a good role model and wear yours too. Don’t forget about helmets for other wheeled-sport activities. A properly-fitting bike helmet is effective when riding a scooter or roller/in-line skating. For skateboarding, it’s important to wear a Consumer Product Safety Commission certified skateboarding helmet to ensure proper protection.
  • Look left, right and left again: Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. They may need to hear and practice this a few times before it becomes second nature.
  • Make eye contact with drivers: With all of today’s distractions, we can’t assume that just because we see a car, the driver sees us. Walkers and bikers can protect themselves by taking the extra step to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.

Visit Safe Kids Worldwide for more tips to keep kids of all ages safe at home.

Do you have questions about how COVID-19 might affect your family?

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