How To Make Your Home Safe for Baby



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. Still, Home Safety Council research found that 82 percent of households report that medicines are left unsecured. Also, more than 69 percent of homes with young children report that household chemicals are stored in unlocked places and more than 33 percent report keeping medicines in an accessible place such as a table, shelf or countertop.

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

POISON PREVENTION TIPS:

* Make sure all potentially dangerous products (household cleaners, medicines, and typical garage items like antifreeze and pesticides) all have child resistant closures on them, are locked up, and are stored in high places.

* Store food and non-food products separately. This protects consumers in the event of a leak in the product and reduces any possible confusion between items.

* Make sure all medicines and prescriptions have not expired. If they have expired they should be flushed in the toilet and not thrown away in the garbage. Children and pets have access to the garbage and could possibly consume them.

* Even a few iron pills can kill a child! Lock them out of sight and reach of children.

* Immediately mop up puddles of anti-freeze and car oil in the garage or driveway. They are extremely harmful to children and pets.

* Do not mix household products, because a dangerous gas might form.

* Every home with fuel-burning appliances and/or an attached garage should be protected with a UL-listed Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector.

* Post the number of the Poison Control Center near your telephone. The national hotline is 800-222-1222.

NURSERY SAFETY INFORMATION:

* Plastic Bags: Remove all plastic bags in the nursery. This includes dry cleaning bags in closets and garbage bags in trash cans.

* Baby Monitors: Many parents keep the baby monitor too close to the crib. Parents should not place baby monitors and other cords close to the crib. Children may pull part of the electrical cord into the crib, possibly biting on the cord or wrapping it around their necks.

* Outlet Protection: Outlets should be protected. Sliding outlet covers always protect the outlet. Children have been known to pull small outlet caps out of outlets, leaving the outlet unprotected. Adults tend to forget to put outlet caps back into outlets. Other style outlet protection is available. A good suggestion is a box style outlet cover for items that are always plugged in. They cover and hide plugs so that children can't pull them out. There are surge protector covers available. Avoid the use of extension cords, which leave outlets exposed.

*Night Lights: Use only safety night light styles (on a few models available) that prevent children from pulling out the night light or gaining access to the bulb. Many parents use nightlights in the nursery in lower outlets but nightlights are intended to be used in outlets above a child's reach. Keep at least three feet away from bedding and other combustible items.

* Lamps/Lamp Cords: Remove unstable lamps that children can easily pull over and repair or replace immediately if cords are frayed or lamp emits a burning odor. Hide lamp cords and other cords behind furniture.

* Doors/ Fingers: Watch for pinched fingers in doors, including closet doors. A good recommendation is that parents use finger pinch guards and bifold door locks if they have bifold doors. Parents can also drape a towel over the door (near the hinge side) so that a child can't close the door all the way and pinch or crush their finger.

* Pictures Secured: All pictures should be secured out of reach. Fortunately, many parents have learned that it is not safe to use a thick quilt in the crib. However, many families hang the quilt above the crib, with the possibility that the baby could pull it into the crib.

* Windows/Window Cords: Furniture should not be placed near windows, including cribs to deny access to windows and blind cords. Blind cords should not have continuous loops. Newer styles come with separate tassels for each cord. Cleats can be used to wind up cords or cords may be cut shorter.

* Window Guards: Window guards or window stops (prevent windows from opening more than a few inches) are an important safety device in the nursery. Make sure to install guards with a quick-release mechanism that can be opened easily from inside in case of fire. They should be used when windows are open.

* Unstable Furniture: Dressers, bookcases and unstable furniture should be anchored. Many children like to climb. Furniture can cause serious and fatal injuries if it falls on children.

* Baby Gates: Some parents install baby gates at the nursery door to prevent children from gaining access to other dangerous areas of the house.

* Lid Supports: Lid supports should be used on toy boxes to prevent heavy lids from falling on children's fingers and necks. New toy boxes should come with lid supports which support the lid as someone closes it, so that the lid can't fall.

* Door Stops: Replace door stops with one piece safety door stops. Children like to pull the caps off the door stops which are a choking hazard. Door stops on hinges should be moved up to the highest hinge.

* Changing Tables: Parents should use harness straps on changing tables and never walk away from the changing table.

* Medicines: All diaper products, medicines should be stored up high and select those with child resistant packaging whenever possible.

CRIB SAFETY

* Crib Safety Standards: Make sure cribs meet current safety standards and have not been recalled, particularly used or hand-me-down cribs. Parents, grandparents and daycare providers can check recalls with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov).

* Crib Hardware: Make sure all crib hardware is secure. Children can become entrapped if the mattress support fails.

* Bedding: Make sure there is no soft bedding in the crib such as pillows and toys, stuffed animals. The AAP and CPSC recommend the use of sleepers instead of blankets. Besides suffocation risks, children can use these items to climb out of the crib. Many parents are surprised when their child climbs out of the crib.

* Crib Toys: Parents should follow manufacturer's guidelines for use of crib toys. Many parents continue to use them, long past the recommended age. This includes mobiles. Crib toys that attach to the crib railings should be placed on the wall side of the crib so that children do not use them to climb out of the crib.

* Crib Sheets: Make sure the crib sheet fits tightly. Parents should regularly check the crib sheet because it can shrink in the dryer and may not always fit properly. Children have become entrapped in sheets and suffocated.

* Bumper Pads: The SIDS alliance does not recommend the use of bumper pads. Parents should remove bumper pads because children can use them to climb out of the crib.

For more home safety tips, check www.excitingread.com in February.