How Safe is Your Home?
Ask homeowners which room in their house they consider the most dangerous and they’llmost often name the kitchen, bathroom, stairway/hallway or garage. But a new study by the Home Safety Council finds that most of us haven’t done much to improve the safety of any of these rooms.
Overall, the study found, homeowners cite uncertainty about what steps to take, concerns about money and time, and too many other obligations as reasons for not taking action to make these rooms safer.
There’s no substitute for vigilant supervision when it comes to keeping children safe in and around the home. But it’s a good idea to take a regular tour of your home (or anywhere your kids spend a lot of time) with a special focus on safety in each room or area.
Continue below for room-by-room lists of safety tips and reminders and the <, Stairs, Windows and In the Yard
TIP: Pass this page on (via email or print) to your child’s grandparents or caretakers.
• Have working smoke alarms on each floor of your home – especially the floor where your bedrooms are located – and hold regular family fire drills. If you build a new home, consider having a fire sprinkler system installed.
• Use flame resistant clothing and bedding.
• Don’t put pillows or large, floppy toys in crib.
• Crib slats should be more than 2-3/8 inches apart.
• All windows should have window guards. Keep furniture away from windows to prevent children from climbing on further and falling out of windows.
• Clip the loops on window cords and place them up high where children can’t reach them, or consider replacing them with new “cordless” blinds.
• Make sure your changing table is safe and sturdy.
Bathrooms and kitchens are the most dangerous rooms in the house.
• Keep medicines secure and out of children’s reach. Teach kids that medicine is not candy.
• Keep soaps, razors, shampoos, astringents, perfumes, nail polish and nail-polish remover out of young children’s reach. Throw away soap bars when they become small enough to become a choking hazard.
• Install toilet-lid locks to prevent drowning.
• Never leave a young child unattended in or near a bathtub with water. The Home Safety Council advises families to pay close attention and stay within an arm’s length of children in and around water, including tubs, toilets, pools, spas and even buckets of water.
• Set water temperature to no more than 120° to avoid unintentional scalding. Also consider installing tub spouts and shower heads with anti-scald features.
• Use tub knob covers.
• When possible install single control, anti-scald faucets.
• Install non-slip flooring in tub or shower. Consider graf bars as well.
• Make sure electrical outlets are far away from water sources; and keep electrical appliances away from water.
• Install latches on all lower cabinets and drawers to safeguard contents and to prevent children from using them as “stairs” to climb onto the counter.
• Beware of choking hazards, such as refrigerator magnets and pen caps, as well as foods such as hot dogs, grapes, hard candy, popcorn, raisins and peanuts. Children can choke on items smaller than 1 inch in diameter.
• Store common kitchen hazards – dish-washing liquid and cleaning products, matches, sharp knives, plastic wrap and bags and the serrated edges of foil and plastic wrap boxes – in high shelves or in locked cabinets. Keep these away from food and drinks.
• Turn the handles of pots and pans inward so children can’t reach or bump them and spill the contents. Cook on the back burners and keep hot liquids out of children’s reach. Use a stove guard and stove knob covers. The Home Safety Council suggests protecting young children from burns by using tape to mark a three-foot safety margin around the stove and instructing kids to stay outside that margin.
• Disconnect countertop appliances when not in use.
• Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
• Never eat, drink or carry anything hot while holding a child in your arms.
• Don’t leave a child unstrapped or unattended in a high chair. He or she can climb out and fall, or slide under the tray and be strangled.
• Remember, crawling babies and toddlers can pull a dangling tablecloth and cause whatever is on top to fall onto themselves.
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Living or Family Room
• Cap or cover unused electrical outlets and secure wires so children cannot pull on them.
• Keep matches or lighters out of children’s reach.
• Keep plants out of baby’s reach.
• Place corner covers on furniture corners.
• Cover hard fireplaces with edge guards.
• Secure sliding glass doors with a door stop.
• Protect your VCR and your child with a VCR lock.
• Keep gas, oil, pesticides, fertilizer and any other toxic chemicals locked away out of child’s reach.
• Keep sharp or heavy tools out of child’s reach.
• Keep automatic garage door activator well out of child’s reach
• To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never run a car, barbecue grill or generator in a closed garage, or a garage attached to or under house.
All Over the House
• Clean up spills immediately to prevent falls.
• Secure rugs to the floor with carpet tape.
• Place smoke detectors outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home (including the basement and attic). Check the batteries every six months. Make sure that all family members know the sound of the alarm and know what to do.
• Use nightlights.
• Keep electrical cords out of children’s reach.
• Use outlet caps to prevent children from sticking fingers or metal objects into a socket.
• If you have an older home, make sure you are aware of any lead poisoning risks.
• Place secure gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Use wall mounted (not pressure mounted) gates at the top of stairs.
• Falls are the leading cause of home injury, according to the Home Safety Council. Leave stairs uncluttered, install bright lights in stairwells (with on/off switches at the top and bottom of stairs), and have handrails on both sides of stairs and steps.
About 70 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries occur annually from window falls, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
• Open windows from the top, not the bottom.
• Lock all unopened windows.
• Install window guards and locks to prevent children from falling out of open windows. Do not install guards on a window that is a fire exit.
• Don’t rely on screens to protect children from falls.
• Keep furniture away from windows so small children are not tempted to climb up to the sill.
Also, the Window Covering Safety Council warns parents on the potential strangulation hazards of looped window cords. They advise parents to eliminate loops on two-corded horizontal blinds.
In the Yard
• Do not allow your child to sit on a riding mower alone or in your lap while you are operating the riding mower. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 12 should not operate walk-behind mowers, and children under 14 should not operate ride-on mowers.
• Do not use power weed trimmers and edge clippers when children are around. Keep children inside and under adult supervision whenever lawn work is in progress.
• Teach children not to taste outdoor plants – especially berries, wild mushrooms, roots or leaves. Plants are the leading cause of poisonings in children under age 1.
• Keep a list of the chemicals and pesticides used on the lawn, and know the names of plants in the house and yard for reference if a poisoning occurs.
• Keep insect sprays, weed killers, fertilizers and pesticides locked up and out of the hands of small children. If a lawn has been chemically treated, make sure it is fully dry before allowing a child to play on it.
• During the summer grilling season, be sure to keep lighter fluid and matches out of children’s reach, and watch children at all times around a hot grill.
• Ourdoor play can increase risk of lead poisoning.
• If you have a pool, use an approved fence or locking gate around it. Make sure your children always swim with a grownup or with constant adult supervision.