Child Safety Tips from Home Safety Council

Keep your little ones safe and sound

Child Safety Tips

The Home Safety Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating safer American homes, found that poisoning is the second leading cause of unintentional home injury and that an estimated 50 children die from poisonings in a single year.

To help raise awareness and reduce these risks for families, the Home Safety Council offers safety advice for parents on how to make their homes safer. You can also find more information at

Crib/ Play Yard Safety Checklist

To help ensure the safety of your youngest guests, follow these simple guidelines every time you prepare a crib.

For wooden or metal cribs, check to see the following:

• Crib has not been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

• Slats are 2-3/8 inches (60 mm) apart or less.

• Slats are not missing, loose, cracked or splintered.

• Crib has no sharp or jagged edges.

• Mattress fits tightly into crib (i.e., no more than two fingers fit between the edge of the mattress and the crib side).

• Mattress support is securely attached to the crib headboard and footboard.

• Screws or bolts holding crib parts together are tight and none are missing.

• Corner posts are 1/16 inch (1-1/2 mm) high or less.

• Crib has no cutouts in the crib headboard or footboard.

• Drop-side latches are too difficult to be released by a young child.

• Mattress is covered with a well-fitting crib sheet (never use adult sheets).

• No pillows, comforters, stuffed animals or other soft items are in the crib.

READ MORE: Advice on mattresses for babies and toddlers

For mesh cribs and play yards, check to see the following:

• Mesh crib/play yard has not been recalled by the CPSC.

• Mesh is less than 1/4 inch in size.

• Mesh has no tears, holes or loose threads.

• Mesh is securely attached to the top rail and floorplate.

• Top rail cover has no tears or holes.

• Mesh crib/play yard has no missing, loose or exposed staples.

• Use only the original mattress that was purchased with the crib.

• Mattress is low and firm, not thick and soft.

• Mattress/floorpad is covered with a sheet or floorpad cover provided by the manufacturer (never use adult sheets or other crib sheets because they won't fit).

• No pillows, comforters, stuffed animals or other soft items are in the crib or play yard.

Crib Safety Ruler

A few measurements are critical in assuring a safe crib environment. First, the spaces between crib slats should not be wider than 2-3/8 inches. If the spacing is wider, infants whose heads are typically larger than their bodies - may strangle when their body slips between the slats but their head gets caught. Corner posts or finials are strangulation hazards because children's clothing can catch on them. They should never be more than 1/16 inch high.

Important measurements: Corner posts are no greater than 1/16 inch. Crib slats spaced no greater than 2-3/8 inches apart.

Fire Safety

• Install and maintain smoke alarms (outside bedrooms and on every floor) and carbon monoxide detectors (in every sleeping area) in your home.

• Test alarms once a month, replace the batteries at least once a year and replace the alarms every ten years.

• Plan and practice two escape routes out of each room in your home. Designate an outside meeting place.

Choking / Suffocation Safety

• Make sure that pacifier shield is large and firm so it cannot fit into a child's mouth and that the shield has ventilation holes.

• Ensure that the pacifier has no holes or tears that might cause pieces to break off in a baby's mouth.

• Make sure that rattles, squeeze toys, and teethers have handles too large to lodge in a baby's throat.

• Make sure that squeeze toys do not contain a squeaker that could detach and choke a baby.

• Do not attach a pacifier or teether around a baby's neck.

• Do not use balloons as play objects and make sure infants and toddlers are closely monitored around balloons.

Scalding / Bathtub Safety

• Set the temperature on your water heater's thermostat at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

• A lower water temperature will reduce the chance of scald burns. It takes just three seconds for a child to sustain a third degree burn from water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which would require hospitalization and skin grafts.

• Stay with a baby in the bathtub at all times.

• Do not use bath seats as a safety device, babies should not be left alone in the bath seat.

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