From the moment parents first set eyes on their baby, they’ll do pretty much anything within their power to protect their little one from harm. Sooner or later, though — and especially when that child starts becoming mobile — bumps and bruises are bound to happen. It's totally normal, and let's face it; there's only so much you can do to prevent a stubbed toe, or a scraped knee. But what about the more serious injuries that can happen in the home? What are they and what can parents or caregivers do to prevent them? Let’s take a look at the most common household injuries for babies. Because knowing the top risks can help parents better child-proof their homes.
According to Stanford Children's Health, roughly 2,000 children ages 14 and under die each year as a result of a home injury. Some of the top accidental home injury deaths are caused by fire and burns, suffocation, drowning, falls, and poisoning. The good news is, there are plenty of simple precautions caregivers can take so the children in their care don't become a statistic. So let's review some of the injury numbers, as well as some safety tips in each category, shall we?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 300 children ages 0 to 19 are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries every day — and two children die each day from burns. Babies and younger kids are more likely to be injured from scald burns from hot liquids or steam, while older kids are more likely to get burned from direct contact with fire. The good news is there are steps caregivers can take to reduce the risk for burns, such as:
- Installing and testing smoke alarms on every floor and near all bedrooms.
- Having a fire escape plan, including two ways out of every room and a central meeting place.
- Never leaving food unattended on the stove, and supervising or keeping kids away from stoves, ovens, and microwaves.
- Setting your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
According to BabyCenter, drowning is a leading cause of death for children aged 14 and below. In fact, three children die every day as a result of drowning reported the CDC. Here are some quick tips for avoiding this terrifyingly-too-common household hazard:
- When you're not using them, make sure buckets and pails are empty.
- Making it a habit to keep toilet lids down and bathroom doors closed.
- Never, ever leave your infant unattended around water — even for just a few minutes in the bathtub — and pay attention to what's going on.
- Installing a four–sided isolation fence — complete with self–closing and self–latching gates — around backyard swimming pools.
According to the National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD,) more than 300 children ages 0 through 19 wind up in emergency rooms in the United States each day because of poisoning — and two children die every day from it. However, there are precautions you can take to help ensure a call to poison control isn't in your future.
- Keeping medicines and toxic products — like cleaning solutions and detergent pods — in their original packaging where children can’t see or get them. (Because unfortunately, these products have a tendency to look like candy or sweet, flavored beverages.)
- Post the poison control center phone number on your refrigerator (or save it to your phone.) It's: 1-800-222-1222.
- Follow label directions carefully and read all warnings when administering medicines to children.
- Safely dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs, as well as vitamins and supplements.
As Stanford Children's Health pointed out, falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury for kids. Every day, there are 8,000 fall-related ER visits for kids ages 19 and under. Here are a couple of fall-related safety tips from BabyCenter:
- Be sure to install window guards, stair gates, and guard rails.
- Never leaving a baby unattended on a changing table or another piece of furniture.
- Be sure to anchor things like dressers (or other heavy furniture) to the wall — as well as mount TVs to the wall. Because young children are prone to climbing, they can fall or knock over these common home items and become crushed by them.
The NICHD reports that infants are most likely to suffocate while they sleep and toddlers are more at risk from suffocating from choking. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) roughly 3,500 infants die each year in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including accidental suffocation. It's for this reason that caregivers should ensure that babies are put to sleep under the recommended conditions.
While it's true that parents can't possibly protect their children from everything in the outside world, there are simple things they can do that make a big difference in at-home safety. For this reason, I invite you to check off the tips above — and then share them with other parents and caregivers of your children. Because no parent wants their child to be included in these grim statistics.