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Protecting young children in the home

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Protecting young children in the home

Make sure your home is safe for your children.

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POSTED September 30, 2011 1:51 a.m.

When your child skins her knee or bumps her head, how do you comfort her? With a kiss and a hug? No matter how loving and careful you are, it’s impossible to shield your children from all of life’s little injuries.

Parents often think their children are safest in their own home. Sadly, every year home accidents send thousands of children to the emergency room, many with serious injuries. But by taking some important precautions, such as replacing traditional blinds with cordless, motorized versions, you can help ensure your child avoids serious home accidents.

Here are some safety tips that can help parents keep children safe at home:

Choking and strangulation prevention

Choking and strangulation can be significant hazards in the home. You can minimize choking risks by making sure small children are served age-appropriate foods cut into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces. Never give foods that are choking hazards, such as hot dogs, nuts or raw carrots, to infants. Always stay with your small child while he is eating, so that you can quickly respond if he does run into trouble.

Window treatments with cords are among the biggest home safety hazards for children. Since 1990, more than 200 infants and young children have accidentally strangled on window treatment cords, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The dangling cords are attractive to children, who may become entangled in them. Consider replacing traditional corded shades with motorized shades. These blinds and shades, powered by manufacturers like Somfy Systems, eliminate cord risks because they are controlled by a motor and remote control or wall switch. Motorization also offers many other benefits, from convenience to energy savings, that make them a good choice when you’re making your home child-friendly.

Falls

Falling down is part of growing up, and hopefully your little one will suffer nothing more than a few scrapes and bumps. More serious falls, however, can be a significant risk to children’s safety. And children falling down are not the only danger; parents need to take precautions to prevent furniture and home items from falling on children.

Keep stairs and floors clear of toys or other objects that could cause someone to trip. Secure stairs with safety gates at the top and bottom of the staircase. Windows should have safety guards and remain locked when not open. Never leave a child alone in a room with an open window, even if the window has a screen on it. A small child’s weight can be enough to pop a screen out of a window and expose a child to a potentially fatal fall.

To help ensure your child’s falls are minor, minimize situations that could lead to trouble, such as attractive toys placed atop furniture that could tip over when a child climbs up to get the toy. Move furniture away from windows and secure items to the wall with anchor straps. If you have a flat screen in your home, consider wall-mounting it for safety.

Appliance and fire safety

Fire and electricity are fascinating to many children. Very young children may crawl over to a wall outlet and older kids may be tempted to try their hand at cooking without supervision.

To minimize danger, never allow children to play with any kind of power cord, even if it’s not plugged in. They’ll be safer in the long run if they learn that cords are not appropriate toys. Cap unused wall outlets with safety plugs and use cable channels to hide cords and cables that may attract children.

Keep flammable materials like matches, gasoline and lighters locked away where children can’t reach them. When cooking, never let a child use a microwave unsupervised until he is tall enough to reach it safely on his own. Avoid placing hot foods or liquids on the edges of counters or tables; place them safely in the center of the surface where they’re away from little hands.

You can’t protect your children from all life’s bumps and scrapes. A few precautions, however, can help ensure that all their accidents are the kind you can heal with a kiss and a hug.

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