Take the Offensive for Your Kid’s Sake

Every nook and cranny is a fascinating, yet potentially hazardous minefield when it comes to babes on the move.

What should every home absolutely have to keep children safe?

“A childproof kit and important phone numbers, such as Poison Control,” says Jesus Alderete, Injury Prevention Specialist at Children’s Medical Center. “Parents should implement safety tips as early as possible, so that by the time their children become mobile, they would have some type of seed planted in their minds about some do’s and don’ts.

“Children who just became mobile are exploring the world the best way they know how and one way is through their mouth.”

That bears watching. More than half of all poisonings treated in emergency rooms involve children under age 6, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center. Annually, more than 2 million children ages 5 and under are poisoned in the U.S.

In the same year, approximately 2,096 children ages 14 and under die as a result of a home injury, according to Safe Kids USA, a national network of coalitions that works to prevent “unintentional childhood injury,” such as fires, suffocation and drowning.

In Dallas, Children’s Medical Center is the lead organization for Safe Kids USA. Both organizations offer online information and advice to help parents keep their children out of the ER (www.childrens.com and www.safekids.org).

Childproofing a home takes time, but it isn’t difficult. First, create a checklist to refer to as you survey every room. You can download one and watch videos of people doing the work, if you like.

Safety devices are sold online and in baby-equipment stores. Read and follow the directions carefully and remember that no device is completely fail proof.

The to-buy list includes:

• Safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers. Stow medicines, cleaners, sharp objects, garden and laundry supplies and anything else that’s poisonous here. Remember: Child-resistant packaging isn’t childproof.
• Safety gates to keep children off staircases and away from dangerous areas. Make sure the “V” shape in older gates isn’t large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.
• Door knob covers to keep tykes from entering certain rooms. Covers should be sturdy, yet allow a door to be opened quickly by adults.
• Sliding plate outlet covers and plug-ins for outlet covers to help prevent electrical shock and electrocution.
• Safety guards for windows, balconies and decks can prevent falls. Screens often fail. Designate one window as your emergency exit.
• Tight-fitting corner and edge bumpers for sharp edges on furniture and fireplace hearths.
• Smoke detectors positioned near every bedroom. Change batteries yearly.
• Carbon monoxide detectors placed outside bedrooms and the garage. This gas can kill sleeping people and pets.

Next, do the things that don’t cost money:
• Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burns.
• Tie up or cut window blind and drapery cords so small hands can’t reach them. Use window blind cord safety tassels.
• Stow potential choking hazards – buttons, beads, coins, pins and other small items – out of reach and out of sight of youngsters in the household.
• Post Poison Control’s number by every phone: 800-222-1222. Calls go to the local poison control center.

What’s the number one reason for childproofing your home?

“It might save your child’s life,” says Alderete.