Preventing Accidental Injury.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2009
KDHE Office of Communications
More than 2,000 Children per Year Fatally Injured at Home
Safe Kids Kansas Urges Parents to Childproof Homes
Approximately 2,096 children in the United States, ages 14 and under, die from accidental injuries in the home each year and 3 million kids are treated in emergency rooms for accidental injuries occurring at home. Nearly 80 percent of the deaths are among children ages 4 and under. Most fatal injuries at home are caused by fire, suffocation, drowning, choking, falls, poisoning or firearms discharged unintentionally.
Safe Kids Kansas urges parents and caregivers to check their homes for basic safety precautions. “There’s no substitute for active supervision, but childproofing your home provides extra protection and peace of mind,” says Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas coordinator. “It’s easy to eliminate the most obvious hazards — and it doesn’t have to involve a lot of expensive equipment.”
The first step in childproofing a home is to explore every room at a child’s eye level. “Literally get down on your hands and knees and crawl around. You’ll be surprised at how much you can reach and how many small objects you can pick up,” says Stegelman. “Anything that can fit through a standard 1½-inch toilet paper tube is a potential choking hazard. Of course, cleaning products, medications, alcohol, firearms and other potentially harmful products need to be stored out of reach and locked up.”
Safe Kids Kansas also recommends these precautions:
- Test your smoke alarms every month: Make sure you have working smoke alarms in every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and in every bedroom. Also, check for fire hazards such as frayed electrical wires or flammable materials near heating appliances.
- Always supervise children while they’re in the bathroom and follow other important safety guidelines. Set your water heater at 120 degrees F and test the bathwater with your wrist or elbow before putting your child in it. Keep toilet lids closed and locked, and doors to bathrooms and utility rooms closed. When not in use, put razors, curling irons and hair dryers out of reach. Never leave young children alone in the bathtub – a child can drown in a matter of seconds.
- Install a self-closing and self-latching gate around the home swimming pool. Make sure the fence surrounds the entire pool.
- Look at every room as your child would. Ask yourself what looks interesting and what can be reached. Get down on your hands and knees, and check for small things children can choke on such as jewelry, coins, small toy parts, buttons, pins, nails, batteries and stones. Be sure to keep all plastic bags out of reach and cover electrical outlets that are not in use.
- Always supervise young children while they’re eating. To avoid choking, don’t allow children under age 3 to eat small, round or hard foods, including hot dogs, hard candy, nuts, grapes and popcorn.
- Prevent serious falls. Keep furniture away from windows, install guards or stops on windows that are not emergency exits, install safety gates at the top and the bottom of stairs, never use baby walkers and use protective surfaces beneath playground equipment.
- Avoid exposing children to potential poisons. Lock up potential poisons out of children’s reach, including cleaning supplies, pet food, medicine, vitamins, beer, wine and liquor. Read labels and follow directions when giving medicine to children. Know which houseplants are poisonous and keep them where children can’t reach them. The residue from ice melting products may be poisonous to children. Carefully clean or remove shoes before entering the house.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and test them every month. This invisible, odorless gas can be fatal. Make sure heating systems are vented outside and checked every year.
- Keep guns locked, unloaded and where kids can’t reach them. And lock up ammunition in a separate place.
- Keep emergency numbers by every telephone. Call 911 if a child is choking, collapses, can’t breathe or is having a seizure. If you suspect a child has been poisoned, call 1-800-222-1222.
- Check your first aid kit to make sure it is fully stocked. Make sure babysitters know where to find first aid supplies and how to handle an emergency.
For more information about kitchen safety, window blinds, cribs, windows, furniture and other hazards around the home, www.usa.safekids.org.
“Safety comes first, even if it means making your home a little less convenient for adults,” says Stegelman. “Safety gates and cabinet locks are a small price to pay to keep a child out of the emergency room.”
Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Osage, Pottawatomie, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
For more information visit www.safekidskansas.org.