As we begin another year, health and wellness are at the forefront of our everyday discussions. It’s easy to overlook some of the safety hazards in your home, even with all the time we’ve been spending here!
Give this list of everyday safety hazards in your house a quick once over. And once you’ve done that, forward this list to whomever may be in a caretaking role of your child in their home :: Here’s looking at you, grandma and grandpa.
Disclaimer: it’s important to note that this list is not meant to cover each and every household danger possible but rather a list of risks that have quick dire consequences but relatively easy fixes.
1. Heavy, tip-prone furniture
For me, this was an easy one to forget about. My toddler has never been a climber, never pulled out dresser drawers. But when my best friend’s 3 year old narrowly escaped an entire dresser falling on top of him, I quickly ran around the house affixing anchors to everything that could tip. And I was right to be alarmed! Consumer Reports Product Safety Commission reports that someone is injured by tipping furniture every 20 minutes.
Easy Fix: start by going through every room in the house, not just playrooms and bedrooms. TVs and TV stands are super dangerous and we often use them to stash items that can be tempting for our littles. Don’t assume because a piece of furniture is large or heavy it can’t tip over!
There are a multitude of options when it comes to furniture anchors and one size does not fit all. But don’t be overwhelmed by the task so much that it doesn’t get done. Here’s a helpful resource for anchoring furniture so you can get it done today.
2. Cleaning products
PUT YOUR CLEANING PRODUCTS HIGH AND AWAY. I cannot stress this one enough. During my CPS career, I witnessed firsthand the deadly consequences of unsecured cleaning products. Specifically detergent pods, in the hands of a toddler, can be DEADLY. If you have cleaning items under your sink, even secured with some kind of lock mechanism, I beg you to move them. Right now. In my opinion, these are the greatest safety hazards in your home but thankfully they are the easiest to correct immediately. Locks, latches, “child-proof” containers, etc. are only as good as the adults who are in charge of securing them. And we all forget things, all the time, because we are human. We are multitasking. We are forgetting those locks. It happens. Kids are quicker than us and their small bodies are unforgiving when in comes to ingesting a large quick dose of what is essentially poison, no matter how organic the content.
Easy fix: Move these items to a spot up high in a closet. Tight on closet space? Switch cabinets. If you have cleaners under the kitchen sink but cereal up on top of the fridge, switch them. May look a bit odd or take a while to get used but you’ll manage. Remember this goes for cleaners in different areas of the house especially the kitchen, bath and laundry.
BY THE WAY: High and away is also an important rule for any medications in your home. Over 70,000 kids per year visit the emergency room because of unintentional ingestion of medicine.
3. Bath Time Supervision
We all may know, thanks to prenatal and parenting classes, that infants can drown in less than an inch of water. Bathing an infant requires 100% hands on attention but we often relax once our kids get bigger. It may seem ok to quickly pop out of the room to grab a towel or check on a little sibling. This is your gentle reminder to stop doing that. Slip and fall injuries in the bath/rub account for more than 40,000 emergency room visits a year. Kids tend to fall forward due to a high center of gravity aka- they hit their heads a lot! That’s not to say these falls can’t happen when you’re standing right there. But a fall when you’re NOT there can turn into time under water and that ups the ante on risk of serious injury.
Easy Fix: Consider investing in an anti-slip mat for the tub but most importantly, park yourself in that bathroom by the tub until they’re fully bathing themselves without you.
4. Ditch The Walkers
This might be a tough sell but hear me out.
A good friend mentioned to me that her pediatrician urged her not to use walkers. Why? I asked. They seemed so innocuous to me and an easy way to keep a child relatively contained for play. But I did some research and quickly found that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, walkers are responsible for thousands of injuries per year.
Turns out, kids can – and do – fall down stairs in their walkers. And because they can reach higher in walkers, they’re more likely to sustain burns from hot surfaces or even gain access to poisons like the cleaning products I mentioned earlier. Kids have even fallen into tubs and drowned because of walkers. AAP has pushed for the discontinuation of walkers altogether and the items are actually banned in Canada.
I had no idea.
Easy Fix: There are plenty of great alternatives like stationary activity centers, high chairs, and play yard/play pens for that easy contained play we need. In addition, there’s actually no evidence that the use of walkers aids in children’s walking development. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. Ditch this safety hazard in your home immediately!
5. Changing babies on high surfaces
“One hand on” is a good rule for changing a baby’s diaper. Plus, it’s a relatively easy rule to remember when wrangling a wiggling baby on a changing table. But don’t take for granted big wide surfaces, like beds, when it comes to keeping hands on. For this one, I will share a quick story:
Post bath is a sacred ritual in my home. It’s every night, it’s both babies at once and it’s hectic but my favorite time of the day. I throw both kids up in the middle of on our king-sized bed for the strip down which is always full of giggles and wrestling with my toddler. Not too long ago, I turned my back to grab jammies for my 5 month-old and in that few seconds, he rolled clear across the bed and started to fall over the side right as I turned back around. By a true miracle, I was able to stop the fall by leaping- literally leaping- across the room. My bed is high off the ground and the consequences of that fall would have been significant.
I was really hard on myself. After all, I KNOW BETTER. We all do right?? But things happen just the same. I included this “habit” as a household danger because I wanted to remind you, my beautiful reader, how quickly these things happen and to not take for granted that your baby isn’t crawling yet, or barely rolling. These guys move quick!
Easy Fix: Now, whenever I need to take my hand off my son on the bed, he either goes on a cozy throw blanket on the floor or over to his crib. A few extra steps for peace of mind- totally worth it.
Accidents happen but Control the Controllables!
It’s important to periodically inventory your household and personal habits when it comes to safety hazards in your home. Check out my post on body safety habits for kids — we have to tackle safety on a lot of different fronts. These quick checks can prevent pain and heartache. We all owe it to ourselves and our kids to do the best we can when we can.
Here’s praying for a safe and healthier New Year.
And as always, take care, mama bear.