The world in and out of a kid’s home offers endless enticements to explore and investigate, to go faster and to climb higher. All of those wonderful hallmarks of childhood come with the accompanying risks, which is why November, Child Safety and Prevention Month, is a great time to review some basic steps to keep your kids happy and healthy no matter where they are.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the greatest source of non-fatal injuries for children from ages 0 to 19. Make your home safer by installing gates above stairs and window guards. Use safety straps on car seats, high chairs, strollers, baby carriers and changing tables at all times. When using high chairs and changing tables especially, supervise your child, rather than relying on the safety strap alone.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the rate of pediatric injuries caused by falling TVs is increasing rapidly, with the most common injuries affecting the head and neck region. Mount all televisions to the wall and secure other pieces of furniture into a wall stud.
In vehicles, use the correct type of car seat for your child’s age, weight and height, and make sure it is properly installed. According to SafeKids.org, kids should be in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old. If you are in a frontal collision, the most common type of crash, the rear-facing car seat allows the child’s head, neck and spine to move evenly into the seat, not away from it.”
Once your child turns 2 and can transition to a forward-facing seat, follow the car seat’s manufacturer weight and height guidelines to know when to transition your child to a convertible seat, followed by a booster seat that attaches to the vehicle’s seat belt. Be sure to register the car seat to be notified of recalls and expiration dates. If you purchase a used car seat, ask the previous owner if it has been in a collision and make sure it comes with the registration paperwork. To have your car seat installed properly, visit a certified child passenger safety technician or your local fire department.
Though they may complain about it, kids under age 12 should ride in the backseat of a vehicle. According to the CDC, airbags can kill or cause serious injury to young children. The safest spot for children in a car is in the middle of the back seat with the seat belt or car seat buckled properly.
Curiosity about every nook and cranny is a big part of childhood. Unfortunately, those exploratory instincts also lead kids to dangerous discoveries. Make sure that all household chemicals, cleaners and pesticides in your home are secured with child safety locks or on a shelf too high for kids to reach. The list of dangerous products includes nail polish, perfume and hair products. Even batteries can be a hazardous item and the small ones can be easily swallowed.
Playgrounds are the ultimate adventure for kids, with all kinds of just-their-size structures for climbing, jumping and swinging. Watch your kids to make sure they are playing safely and that they don’t climb or jump beyond their ability. Help them get a good grip on equipment by bringing sneakers, while avoiding items that could get caught like necklaces, scarves or clothing with drawstrings.
Always have your child wear a properly sized helmet on anything that moves – bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller blades, tricycles, snow skis and snowboards.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not buying a trampoline for your home. If you do have a trampoline, exercise the following: adult supervision at all times, one jumper at a time and no somersaults. Routinely check the padding, net and equipment for damage.
Make sure your child or teen wears a life jacket on boats, rafts, inner tubes and on any personal watercraft or when swimming in open water. Check the label of the life jacket for user weight information and make sure it is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Inexperienced swimmers should have on a life jacket near any body of water.
Make sure your child’s costume fits well so he or she doesn’t trip and fall. Attach reflective gear on the costume or candy bucket so drivers can see the costume-clad child. Clear out debris and tripping hazards on walkways and make sure they are well-lit for trick-or-treaters.
For parents and caregivers, the biggest safety measure of all is proper supervision of the children. While it only takes a fraction of a second for an injury to happen, accidents can be prevented if you closely monitor the kids, stay aware of their surroundings and be prepared in the event of an emergency.