Early Safety Tips
Planning for a new baby can be expensive. Parents and well-meaning relatives often try to skirt the staggering costs of new baby equipment by shopping second hand stores or passing down cribs and other equipment. Before accepting used car seats or other baby equipment, parents should check for recalls, safety concerns and other information by calling the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) at (800) 638-2772. Ask specific questions about the history of car seats. A car seat that was in a previous car accident should be thrown away, not recycled.
Even in the first few weeks of life, a baby is vulnerable to many household hazards. For one thing, water that is too hot poses the risk of severely scalding a little one and causing third degree burns. Always check water before putting the baby in a bathtub. Set the temperature on the hot water heater at or below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid serious injury. Install working fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the house. Fire safety is a big deal for families with small children. Even if the household consists of two parents and a baby, practice a fire escape plan.
Tips for Older Babies and Preschoolers
Child proofing takes on a whole new meaning once babies become mobile. Curious little ones will find a way to get into just about everything. Even if you place breakables and other obvious hazards up out of reach, other dangers still lurk. Be sure to remove toys and crib mobiles from cribs once the baby can pull up into a standing position. Bumpers guards should be removed as well. Babies may use these items to stand up higher, putting them at risk for falling out of the crib. Other areas of the home require special attention.
In the playroom:
- Remove all toys from the baby's reach that are smaller than your fist. Anything smaller poses a choking hazard.
- Do not set cribs near other furniture. Little climbers will find a way out of the crib and onto dressers, changing tables, and other furnishings.
- Bind up mini blind cords. Each year a number of small children die after becoming entangled in loose mini blind cords.
- Choose a stationary baby walker instead of a mobile variety. They are much safer. Traditional walkers are simply not worth the risk they pose to little ones who can tumble down stairs and other places.
In the rest of the house:
- Place furniture corner covers, cabinet locks, and toilet locks throughout the house. Every electrical outlet should be fitted with a plug cover as well.
- Store cleaning products, medicines, and mouthwash and toothpaste products up high and out of reach. Even if it is an inconvenience, do not trust cabinet locks to protect children from finding potentially deadly products. Keep the number to your local Poison Control Center where you can find it quickly.
- Secure exterior doors with doorknob covers that will prevent the baby from going outside by themselves.
- Remove stove knobs that are within a child's reach. Keep hot liquids and foods far away from the edge of cabinets and stovetops. Turn pan handles inward while cooking to prevent baby from pulling hot foods down on top of themselves.
- As toddlers grow, be on constant lookout for furniture that can serve as a stool or a ladder enabling them to climb on kitchen cabinets and table tops. As a baby's abilities increase, so does the danger.
- Install permanent gates (never pressure gates) near stairways.
General Safety Tips
In homes with older children, safety is a must as well. Consider the following:
- If you have a swimming pool, never allow small children (or children who are unable to swim by themselves) unsupervised access. Use gates and locks to keep small children away from the danger of drowning.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep children under the age of six away from trampolines.
- Large pieces of furniture can tip over, trapping and injuring small children. Use wall anchors or straps to secure furniture and stoves to the wall.
- Remove drawstrings form sweatshirts and jackets for school aged children. Strings can become easily caught on playground equipment, on the school bus, and in other areas posing a strangulation danger.
- Keep children in a smoke free environment. Insist that visitors smoke outdoors.
- Even as children grow older (and seemingly more mature), keep an eye on cleaning products and chemicals for signs of tampering or unexplained use. It is never too early to inform older elementary students of the dangers of huffing.
- Never allow children under six to use bunk beds.
Has Your Child Been Injured By The Negligence Of Others?
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