Home is where the kids grow and learn, feel safe and secure, and find love and care. It’s where they first see and experience the world around them and let their mind and body develop. But even when their home must be the safest place on earth for a child, it’s still the leading source of accidental death for children. According to the Home Safety Council, almost 21 million medical visits and 20,000 fatalities occur annually as a result of accidents in the home.
These accidents can be avoidable through prevention and education. You need to remove all home safety hazards and teach your child about what’s safe and what’s not. In the case of young children from babies to 5 years old, they need to receive maximum supervision to ensure home safety, because even if you’ve removed all hazards, they can still experience other dangers like tumbles and falls.
To keep your home safe for your little ones, here are some of the things you can do:
1. Provide a creative place for them
Children are full of energy and it’s easy for them to get bored. If they have a place where they can play, explore and be entertained for hours, they will less likely seek stimulation by exploring things you don’t want them to touch or areas you don’t want them to get into. Provide them with enough toys and books to keep their imagination running.
2. Secure your perimeters
Avoid falls and injuries by keeping your doors and windows locked. Don’t allow them to play around open windows (especially those in higher floors), or patio doors. Don’t allow them to go and wander by the neighborhood alone. Never leave a baby on the bed unattended as he/she may fall down from it.
3. Install safety guards
Falls are the most common cause of injuries for children. It usually happens in stairs and balconies, so it’s best to install safety guards on them. When you have infants and toddlers, install baby gates in the top and bottom of stairs. Even when these things are installed, it’s best to always supervise your children when they’re using it. Some toddlers may figure out how to open and close the gates, so watch closely.
4. Keep nightlights
Before you sleep at night, turn on a low-power night light in your children’s room and in your room as well, especially if the baby is with you. This will give you and your kids visibility at night in case you need to get up and go to the toilet. For older children, you can leave on a hall light or simply use sensor lights.
5. Set a smoke alarm at home
A working smoke alarm is an essential fire safety precaution which is required by law. It is important to have it installed at least on each level. Replace the batteries each year and replace the alarms themselves every ten years. Teach your kids about its purpose, its sound, and have a fire escape plan when the alarm goes off and teach it to them. In case your child smells smoke or the fire or smoke alarm rings when you have left them at home, teach them that they should get outside, ask a neighbor for help or call the fire department.
6. Lock away dangerous items
If you own a firearm, it is your responsibility to keep it stored after unloading ammunition and secured in a safe place which cannot be accessed by your children easily. Knives, razor blades, and scissors must also be placed in out-of-reach areas for children. Also, keep your hand tools, power tools, chainsaws, lawnmowers, and other sharp tools out of their reach. When you’re using these tools, make sure your child is out of the way. And whenever you take a break, make it a habit to unplug your tools so your child won’t get curious and examine it.
7. Keep all potential poisons away
Little kids like to put everything in their mouth, so they must not reach or touch anything that will be poisonous when swallowed. Make sure potential poisons like detergents, soaps, pesticides, polishes, lamp oils, kerosene, and other non-edible solutions are placed in locked cabinets or in out-of-reach shelves. Never store these items in food or drink containers nor store them in kitchen cabinets since your kids might mistake them for food.
8. Keep small-sized items away from kids
Small children are usually in danger of choking, so don’t allow them to play with toys with small parts or eat foods like almonds and nuts. Keep earrings, pins, marbles, buttons, and coins out of reach from small children, especially if they’re under three years old.
9. Keep the sleeping areas of your child, especially infants, uncovered
If you have a baby at home, keep the crib as bare as possible. Too many pillows, stuffed toys and a lot of bed covers might fall into the baby’s face and suffocate them accidentally.
10. Don’t leave them alone in the water
Kids love to splash in the water, whether it’s in the swimming pool, bathtub or even buckets of water. Don’t leave them unattended while they’re having a dip, even for a second, as they may slip or slide or drown accidentally while having fun. Make sure that when you place your kid in water, the level must not be above their waistline. If you’re dealing with more than one kid playing in the water, them strictly that there should be no pushing or roughhousing while enjoying a dip in the pool or tub. For bath safety, always supervise bath time of kids under age five. Don’t let your older kids supervise unless they are already teenagers and are very responsible.
11. Install safety covers for electrical outlets
Cover your unused electrical sockets with safety covers or at least plastic covers to prevent electrical shock in case your little one decided to tinker it. Insulate or put into a case your electrical wires to cover it. Teach your children the dangers of electrical shock and tell them never to touch any plugs, sockets or cords with wet hands.
12. Teach kids to be gentle with pets
If you have house pets, especially dogs, they can be affectionate and fun to touch for children. But some actions like pulling the ears and tails may not be fun for the dog and they might get pissed off. Teach your children to be gentle with the pet and avoid playing rough games like wrestling with them. Also, teach them not to bother the dog while they’re eating because dogs tend to growl and worse, attack anyone who bothers them when they eat. Teach your child to stay away from the pet when they’re already growling or showing off teeth.
13. Keep hot surfaces away from children
Keep a close eye on your child every time he’s near things that can burn like ovens, heaters, stoves and other heat-generating appliances. Kids love to touch anything, so and they might get burned with these. Keep your hot beverages away from their reach. And also, don’t give your kids too-hot baths, as it’s a major cause of scalds for small children.
14. Practice first aid
Always keep a first aid kit in your home and review it with your older children, ages seven and up. Children are prone to cuts and bruises as they play – it’s part of childhood. Teach them how to use the first aid kit components on themselves, and help them identify between a real emergency and a minor emergency that they can handle using the first aid kit. It’s also not a bad idea to undergo CPR training and then teach it to your kids as well, especially if you own a pool.
15. Have an emergency plan
Practice emergency plans with your children about what to do in case of injury, fire or other emergencies. Write it down and tell your children where they can find it. Have the contact number of your friends, neighbors, poison control facility, a pediatrician and other important contacts posted on a sheet on the wall near the home phone, besides storing it in the phone itself. Make sure you list your personal or work numbers in there too, so your child can contact you if ever you need to leave them at home. If your child is old enough to know your exact address and can use a phone, you can already teach him to dial these emergency numbers.