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Home safety

Home safety tips to prevent injury

Keeping your kids safe starts right at home. Too often, children end up in urgent care or the emergency room from common injuries. It’s important to be aware of the danger areas in your home so you can help keep your kids safe. 

Know the high-risk areas that can cause injuries at home

Poison prevention and medication safety for kids

Did you know that poisoning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury and death in children ages 1 – 19 years-old, with medicines being the leading cause of child poisoning? 

It only takes a second for a child to swallow something they shouldn’t. Here is how you can reduce a child’s risk of poisoning. 

Top tips for poison prevention and accidental medicine ingestion in your home: 

  • Store cleaning products safely, in their original containers and out of children’s reach and sight. Make sure to lock them up!
  • Read and follow product labels.
  • Be aware of children mixing cleaning products as they might be highly toxic.
  • Keep medications out of kids' reach and sight: Think about the places they might get into medicine, such as your purse, counter or nightstand. Make sure these are not accessible for kids to grab.
  • Write clear instructions for any caregivers about what medicine to give to children, when to give it and how much they should give.
  • Ask how medicine is stored before your children go too visit their grandparents home, or homes of family members or friends.
  • Just because it’s not an over-the-counter medicine or prescription, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about it. Vitamins, eye drops and diaper rash creams are examples of items that also must be stored out of reach. 
  • Save the Poison Helpline number –?1-800-222-1222?– on your phone in case of an emergency. 

Falling prevention for children

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.  

  • Securely strap little ones into?high chairs, strollers or swings and be sure to secure them with the straps. 
  • Properly install window guards to prevent children from falling out of a screened-in window. Move furniture away from windows to prevent children from climbing so close. 
  • Install approved safety gates at the top AND bottom of staircases.?On average each year more than 93,000 children under the age of 5 are seen in the ER for stair-related injuries. 
  • Secure TVs and furniture by using mounts, brackets or wall straps. 

Preventing choking and strangulation

The need to teethe, suck and drool on everyday objects and toys can cause choking and strangulation. Here are some tips to help keep your child from choking: 

  • Cut food into tiny pieces. 
  • Round, hard food such as hot dogs, cheese sticks and hard candy should not be given to children under the age of 5.
  • Separate toys by age.
  • Keep small magnets, cords and strings out of reach. We recommend installing cord free blinds for example. 
  • Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings from areas where your child is playing or sleeping 
  • Don’t tie a ribbon or string to a pacifier or toy 

Safety measures to prevent burning and scalding from cooking

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. 

  • Create a baby-free zone that is at least three feet from the oven/stove. If they’re too young to understand, secure them in a high chair or another safe space where you can see them while you cook. 
  • Use the back burner when cooking. 
  • 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 by helping children take food out of a microwave safely to avoid scalding. 

Fire safety tips

Fires in your home can start and spread quickly. Preventing fires and having a fire escape plan is important. Here are some tips for parents: 

  • Check smoke alarms to make sure there is at least one working alarm in every level of your home and in the bedrooms near sleeping areas. 
  • Have an appropriate fire extinguisher available in the kitchen, garage and storage areas.
  • Be aware of potential fire hazards in your home such as the stove top, candles, small appliances and wood in the fireplace. 
  • Create a fire escape plan that has two ways out of every room and a safe meeting spot for the family outside. Be sure to practice your family’s fire escape plan at least twice a year! Also practice during the day and at night when everyone is asleep.
  • If there is a fire in your house, leave immediately and call 9-1-1 when you’re safely outside. 
  • If your child has suffered an injury at home, please seek emergency care near you. If it is life-threatening, immediately call 9-1-1.  

Toy safety measures

Toys can be so much fun for children and adults alike. Here are some safety measures to help prevent toy-related injuries such as choking. 

  • Find the right toys by age and make sure there aren’t any small parts that could cause choking 
  • Have your child wear a properly-fitted helmet if they’re playing on riding toys. Make sure to choose an appropriate helmet for the type of activity or riding toy. 
  • Make sure to store toys safely after your child is finished playing. The bin should be free of holes or hinges that could catch your little one’s fingers.
  • Know the toy safety guidelines from the Virginia Poison Center.
  • Stay in the know about product recalls.

Gun safety

“Is there an unlocked gun in your home?” is simply another question that should be on the list when you exchange numbers and talk through the details of your child’s visit.

Ways to start the conversation about guns in the home

Here are some suggestions for ways to bring up the topic:

  • “I hope you don’t mind me asking a few questions about the kids’ safety.”
  • “I want you to know I’ve spoken to my kids about not playing with guns but…”
  • “I’m not judging anything. I just want to be sure my child is safe…”
  • “I heard the most surprising fact from my child’s pediatrician…”
  • “We all know how curious kids can be…”
  • “Remember what we found in our houses when we were kids!”
  • “I just read this blog post from our doctor’s office…”

When you have your answer If the answer is “no” then you have one less thing to worry about. If the answer is “yes,” make sure all guns are stored unloaded and locked, ideally in a gun safe, with ammunition locked separately.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in the United States:

  • Approximately one-third of homes with children have guns
  • Nearly 4.6 million children live with unlocked, loaded guns
  • More than one-third of unintentional shootings of children take place in the homes of their friends, neighbors or relatives
  • Every day, 87 children, teens and young adults are injured or killed by guns

Read about safe gun storage practices

CHoR serves the Richmond area with 24/7 pediatric emergency room care. We also are available for virtual urgent care visits from 4 p.m. to midnight for minor injuries sustained at home. 

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