We think of our homes as places of safety and comfort, and that’s exactly what they should be. However, your home is the most probable location for someone in your family to suffer an injury.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the highest percentage of injuries for both males and females occur inside or around the outside the home. Plus, children under the age of 15 are more likely than any other age group to be victims of an unintentional household injury.
The good news is, injuries in the home are preventable. You can make your home a safer place when you become aware of the risks found in different areas.
Once you’re aware, you can take precautionary steps to ensure your family – especially young children – can enjoy the comforts of home in a safer environment.
That means less time worrying and more time with each other!
Here are six areas in your home considered potential danger zones. Parents need to be cautious and focus on making these areas safer (or places safer).
1. The Medicine Cabinet
One of the most common causes of unintentional poisoning among young children comes when they accidentally ingest prescription or over-the-counter medications found inside the family medicine cabinet.
According to Dr. Daniel Budnitz, director of the CDC’s Medication Safety Program, “About one out of every 180 two-year-olds visits an emergency department for a medication overdose each year.”
The situation was much worse in the past. 50 years ago, as many as 500 children in the U.S. died every year because of unintentional poisonings, with medication being the top reason. Legislation requiring safety measures and the invention of the child safety cap for pill bottles led to those numbers improving.
Still, as parenting writer Alla Berger from ModernMom.com points out, even toddlers can figure out how to open those bottles.
“Children seem to be getting smarter and smarter these days. I recently heard a mom complain about witnessing her three-year-old daughter skillfully opening up a ‘child-proof’ bottle of Tylenol!”
The problem with that statement is there really is no such thing as “child-proof packaging.” Nothing is a guarantee, but child-safe packaging can add an extra layer of protection that saves lives.
New, innovative forms of child-resistant packaging may be able to help protect kids from unintentional exposure to medications. Read more about what Child-Guard® is doing at the end of this article.
In addition to keeping kids away from medicines they shouldn’t have or shouldn’t take without adult supervision, parents should also keep an eye on expiration dates and product recalls for any medication they give to family members.
2. Under the Sink
Cabinets under bathroom and kitchen sinks are often full of cleaning supplies. These products may contain chemicals that could be harmful if ingested. Products may be clearly labeled with warnings, but that does not stop a toddler.
Poison.org cites national statistics showing household cleaners make up 11 percent of pediatric exposures reported to Poison Control Centers around the country. That’s more than 118,000 cases a year.
While some household cleaners may have child-resistant packaging in place, it is still wise to have a child safety lock installed on cabinet doors where such products are stored.
Another option is storing them in a different place. The pediatric safety experts at HealthyChildren.org recommend keeping things like lye, furniture polish, and dishwasher soap in higher cabinets, which young children can’t reach.
3. In the Garage
Inside your garage, there are a lot of things that can get curious kids into unsafe situations.
For starters, the garage is typically a place where sharp tools are stored. These should be placed out of reach at a minimum, but if possible, lock them up inside a cabinet or toolbox.
Make sure your garage door has an automatic reversing mechanism and that it is properly setup to raise if a child is underneath the door when closing.
As with household cleaners, products like fertilizers, paint, varnish, and pesticides should be stored on higher shelves and remain in their original containers.
Parents.com offers additional safety tips for the garage including:
- Unplug and store power tools when not in use
- Lock car doors to keep kids from playing in vehicles
- Store ladders horizontally, so kids can’t climb them
- Avoid leaving ropes, extension cords, and cables lying around or hanging from hooks
- Remove doors from unused fridges and freezers
- Properly dispose of incendiary/flammable material like oily rags
In general, you should teach kids that the garage is not a safe place to play while unsupervised.
4. The Swimming Pool
Pool chemicals are yet another product that should be kept away from children, and are typically kept in the garage. Practice the same safe storage with these products and look for brands using child-resistant packaging like Child-Guard® for added protection.
Not every home has a pool, but just about every kid will swim in one at some point, whether it’s at a family member’s home, a hotel pool, or a neighbor’s backyard.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages one to four. The U.S. government has even launched a public awareness campaign, called Pool Safely, to help educate families about the risks.
Pool Safely recommends teaching kids these four steps:
- Learn to swim
- Don’t climb over gates
- Stay away from pool drains
- Ask a parent before going into the pool
Above all, children who are still learning to swim should be supervised in swimming pools at all times. You and your child should understand their limits as a swimmer. Learning CPR is also a good idea for every parent or guardian.
Watch the educational video from Pool Safely below for more information.
5. The Stairs
In 2012, an extensive study by the Center for Injury Research found that an American child under the age of five falls down the stairs and is taken to the hospital every six minutes.
The number of kids hurt on stairs could actually be much higher when you consider that this study only covers children who went to the emergency room.
“What that tells us is that we have much more that we need to do to make the home environment safer for children,” study author Dr. Gary A. Smith told CBS News.
Child safety gates at the top of stairs can keep young children from taking an accidental tumble. Parenting safety experts also recommend using stationary play stations instead of baby walkers with wheels.
As kids get older and begin walking up and down the stairs, teach them to use the handrail. Having something to grab onto can make a big difference. You may also want to install treads that help prevent slipping.
Keep stairs clear of clutter at all times, and remind children not to leave toys on the steps.
6. In the Laundry Room
The room where you wash and dry your clothes also has a few areas of concern.
Washing machines and clothes dryers can be tempting places for kids to crawl in and hide, especially the front-load variety, which have doors at their level.
The U.S. Fire Administration estimates there are more than 2,900 dryer fires in homes every year. Many of those dryer fires could be prevented with simple cleaning.
Household laundry products, like individual use laundry packets, may look like candy to children who are too young to understand what they actually are. These packets contain concentrated detergent, and if they are ingested or come into contact with the eyes, they could be harmful.
That’s why Tide® recently launched an awareness campaign reminding parents to keep Tide PODS® up, closed, and safe. The closed part of that awareness campaign involves special packaging from Child-Guard® designed to help keep families like yours safe.
How Child Guard™ Makes Your Home a Safer Place
We created Child-Guard® as a way for the makers of your favorite products to provide people with safer flexible packaging options. When added to a package, our child-resistant closure keeps resealable zippers closed, as it requires an additional action to unlock the zipper.
It’s already being used on laundry packets, and the possibilities for use with other products is impressive. Child-Guard® can help keep young children out of packages containing medicines and supplements, pool chemicals, household cleaners, pesticides and fertilizers, even legal cannabis.
If there’s a room in your home where there are potential hazards, there’s a good chance Child-Guard® can add an extra layer of safety that helps give you more peace of mind.
What kinds of product packaging do you think would benefit from the Child-Guard® closure? Tell us on social media and use the hashtag #guardit.