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Tips on preventing childhood injuries

Author / Coordinator:  
March 2007

Each year, more children die from injuries than from all childhood diseases combined. As well, injuries result in suffering, doctors’ visits and even hospital stays. Many injuries to babies and children can be avoided if parents take preventive action.

Is your home safe for children? Work through this checklist and see. To make your home child-safe, be sure to correct any item that is not checked off below:

To Prevent Poisoning

  • All medicines, cleaners, chemicals, and pesticides are stored in child resistant containers and are out of reach.
  • Alcohol and tobacco are kept out of reach.
  • All house and garden plants are non-toxic. If you are unsure, check with your local poison control center.

To Prevent Cuts…

  • Counters and tables have rounded corners or corner guards
  • Scissors, knives and other sharp objects and tools are out of reach

To Avoid Burns…

  • Your hot water tank is set no higher than 120°F.
  • Matches and lighters are stored where children can’t see or reach them.
  • Smoke alarms are installed on each level and in each sleeping area and batteries are changed twice a year (if you have a hard-wired smoke alarm, you do not need to change batteries).
  • Electrical outlets are covered.
  • Hot drinks and foods are always out of children’s reach.
  • Chen cooking, pot handles and cords are out of children’s reach.
  • Children are unable to reach stove controls.
  • A fire extinguisher is kept in the kitchen.

To Prevent Choking and Suffocation…

  • Small toy parts and other choking hazards (coins, plastic bags, and balloons) are out of reach of babies and toddlers.
  • Children under four are never given foods that can cause choking such as raw carrots, hard candies, whole hot dogs, or whole grapes.
  • Cords for drapes and blinds are out of reach.
  • Infant is not allowed to sleep in car seat when not in the car.

To Prevent Drowning…

  • Children are always watched when in the tub.
  • A bathtub seat with suction cups is NOT used.
  • A toilet-lid lock is installed.
  • Pails, baby baths and splash pools are always emptied after use.
  • A four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate keeps children away from your pool.
  • An adult always watches children in and around swimming or wading pools, ponds and ditches.
  • Adult is always at arm’s length from infants and toddlers around water.

To Prevent Falls…

  • Baby is never left alone on a high place such as a bed, change table or sofa.
  • Safety belts on strollers, high chairs and shopping carts are always fastened.
  • Loose rugs have a non-slip backing
  • Toddler access to stairs is blocked by a wall-mounted (not pressure mounted) gate
  • A baby walker is NEVER used
  • Window hardware restricts opening to 10 cm (4 inches)
  • Furniture, step stools, and toy boxes are away from windows
  • Bunk beds are used safely (meets ASTM F-1427 safety standards; children under 6 are not allowed on the top bunk ; the top bunk has guard rails on all sides; and the ladder is securely attached.
  • Young children are always supervised on decks and balconies.

To Prevent Crib Accidents…

Cribs, high chairs and stationary activity centers are placed so children cannot reach hazards such as windows, electrical cords or hot appliances.

Furniture, including book cases and televisions are fastened to the walls and stove is anchored to the floor.

Crib is used safely (was made after 1986, as indicated by the label), mattress is tight against all four side and the mattress is at lowest level once the baby can sit up.

What Is An Attractive Nuisance?

An attractive nuisance is a potentially harmful object so inviting or interesting to a child that it would lure the child onto the property to investigate. An unenclosed swimming pool, for instance, or a fountain containing goldfish could be attractive nuisances. Ordinary objects can attract and injure children as well. An idling lawnmower, paint sprayer, table saw — even the family car. Children are also fascinated by construction sites and equipment, gasoline pumps, wells, tunnels, dumpsters, paths and stairways.

You may be thinking that almost anything could injure a small child. After all, even a stick in the yard can be picked up and poked into an eye. Yet a stick is not so unusual or enticing as to draw children over at their peril. And not every dangerous condition is an attractive nuisance. Most natural conditions, such as a lake or a naturally steep bank, are not considered attractive nuisances. To be liable for injury, an owner must create or maintain the harmful object. And even a very small child is presumed by the law to understand some dangers (for example, falling from a height or touching fire). The attractive nuisance doctrine only arises when the child doesn’t realize the extent of the danger.

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