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.
The good news: many 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.
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 the CDC, “Every day, over 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned.”
The situation was much worse in the past. Over 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 “child-proof packaging” doesn’t really exist. 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 or small child.
Poison.org cites national statistics showing household cleaners make up 10.5 percent of pediatric exposures reported to Poison Control Centers around the country. That’s more than 100,000 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.
The garage is typically a place where sharp tools are stored and should be placed out of reach at a minimum. If possible, lock them up inside a cabinet or toolbox.
Make sure your garage door has an automatic reversing mechanism that is properly setup to raise if a child is underneath the door when closing. Test it regularly with a cardboard box and if the door does not stop, call your garage door repair company immediately.
Like household cleaners, products such as fertilizers, paint, varnish, and pesticides should be stored on higher shelves and remain in their original containers.
Avera.org offers additional safety tips for the garage including:
- Unplug and store power tools in a cupboard or boxes and baskets out of children’s reach
- Lock car doors to keep kids from playing in vehicles
- Store ladders horizontally to prevent kids from climbing them
- Avoid leaving ropes, extension cords, and cables lying around or hanging from hooks
- Keep toxic substances in their original containers and store in a locked space
In general, 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 stored 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 launched a public awareness campaign, called Pool Safely, to help educate families about these risks.
Pool Safely recommends parents use these safety tips:
- Never leave a child unattended in or near water
- Teach children how to swim
- Teach children to stay away from pool drains
- Ensure all pools and spas have compliant drain covers
- Install proper barriers, covers and alarms on and around your pool or spa
- Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults
Above all, children who are still learning to swim should always be supervised in swimming pools. You and your child should understand their limits as a swimmer.
Watch this important video from Pool Safely below for more information.
5. The Stairs
Per Kids in Danger, in the United States a child is taken to the hospital every six minutes for a stair-related injury. One in four of these injuries are children under the age of one when a parent or caregiver falls or drops a child they are carrying.
The number of kids hurt on stairs is much higher when you consider that this only covers children who went to the emergency room.
Child safety gates at the top and bottom 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, especially in preventing a fall. You may also want to install treads that help prevent slipping.
Keep stairs clear of clutter 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 with doors at their level.
Household laundry products, like single-use laundry packets, may look like candy to children who are too young to understand. These packets contain concentrated detergent, and if they are ingested or encounter the eyes, they could be harmful.
That’s why Tide® provides safety information and helpful resources reminding parents to keep Tide PODS®</sup packages up, closed, and safe. The closed part involves special closures like Child-Guard® sliders which are designed to help keep families like yours safe.
How Child Guard™ Makes Your Home a Safer Place
We created Child-Guard® sliders as a way for the makers of your favorite products to provide 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.
Already being used on laundry packets, the possibilities for use with other products is impactful. Child-Guard® sliders can help keep young children out of packages containing medicines and supplements, pool chemicals, household cleaners, pesticides and fertilizers, and more.
If there’s a room in your home where there are potential hazards, there’s a good chance Child-Guard® closures can add an extra layer of safety that helps give you more peace of mind.
This post was originally published on 8/8/2016 and updated and revised on 8/23/2021