Accidents in the Home, The Worst Causes
Each year around 2,000 children in the U.S aged 14 and under die as a result of home injuries according to recent statistics from the National Safety Council, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The unintentional home injury deaths are caused primarily by fire and burns, suffocation, drowning, firearms, falls, choking, and poisoning but this tragic fact also shows that most home accidents can be preventable.
Kids are small and inexperienced with the laws of physics, and their inquisitive nature can make them oblivious to their surroundings. A lack of supervision, even just for a moment can be all it takes for a child to fall, be hurt, or even worse. By understanding the most dangerous causes of accidents in the home, we can help to try and prevent them from happening to our own children and baby-proof our homes to provide a safe environment for a baby or small child.
Burns and Scalds
Each day over 300 children are seen in U.S. emergency rooms as a result of scalding or burn injuries associated with consumer household appliances and products including stoves, coffee makers, tableware, cookware, bathtubs and even treadmills. Many of the incidents that resulted in a burn injury were due to a lapse in supervision, pure child curiosity or misjudgement in a child’s observational skills.
There are many ways we can prevent burns and scalds occurring starting from within the kitchen. When cooking food place pots and pans on the far back burner and ensure handles are faced towards the back. This will keep hot items out of reach of children to prevent tipping hot food or boiling water onto themselves. Mugs of hot tea and coffee should also be placed out of reach and not left on coffee tables, floor, or low side tables so a baby or child cannot knock them over or grab handles and pull down onto themselves. Also never carry a hot drink when holding a baby or child in case you trip or drop your hot drink onto the baby.
The kitchen is not the only place where burn accidents can occur. Bathrooms pose just as much danger to a child or baby with access to hot water taps and curling or straightening irons that may have been left on. Hot water child safety tap covers are available to stop little hands turning on the wrong temperatures, and during bath times test the water before placing your child into it. If using curlers or straightening irons stay next to them until heated up and unplug it as soon as you are done. This is a fitting example of where a pressure mounted baby safety gate or barrier could be used to keep your baby or toddler away from the bathroom area while preparing the bath, or until you are finished getting ready.
Poisoning and Ingestion
Most of us are aware of the dangers that prescription medication, under-the-sink chemicals and cleaning products pose to a baby or small child, but there are many other hazardous substances around our homes that may not be front of mind. Items such as essential oils, hand sanitiser and nail polish can sometimes be forgotten and left in accessible areas to a child.
The first step towards protecting your children from potential poisons around the home is to install baby locks on cabinets that store medicine and cleaning products is a good first step towards protecting kids from ingestion accidents. Cosmetics and makeup products are colorful and might be appetizing to toddlers, so be sure to keep them safely stored away in bags, or in the same locked cabinets as your medicine (and unplugged hair straighteners).
Even things that are otherwise healthy can be hazardous when consumed improperly. Children can be convinced to take nutritional vitamins when presented in child-friendly forms like gummy bears, which is a good thing, but it also means that children hunting for sweets or snacks might open the vitamin jar and eat a fistful. In this case, too much of a good thing can be toxic, so keep your vitamin candies stashed away.
Trips and Falls
The world is full of tripping hazards for new walkers with balance skills still developing for our little ones. While skinned elbows, shins and knees are part of every childhood, more serious injuries happen when children no matter their age succumb to a fall from a height.
Staircases are notorious for child and baby injuries, whether a tumble from the top or slip and stumble on the way down. Stair injuries can result in a variety of injuries including broken bones or worse, but fortunately they can be preventable. By installing baby safety gates or barriers at the top and bottom of the stairs you can reduce the risk but must also be sure that the gates themselves are not climbable if your child is a toddler or older.
Other items to be aware of that could pose as a tripping hazard can be as simple as a houseplant or plant stand, a book, or of course toys left on the stairs which can injure children as well as adults. Beds and chairs can be high enough to cause significant injury from a fall so make sure to keep your children safe with age-appropriate cribs and secured safety in their highchairs.
Choking and Suffocating
Choking, suffocation and strangulation rank as a common cause of unintentional injury and deaths in infants and toddlers yet the simplest way to avoid this risk is just by always maintaining adult supervision. We need a constant reminder that a baby or small child is not capable of understanding what can and cannot be ingested or played with that may pose as a threat to their life.
Incidences in this area peak at 9 to 11 months of age however the majority of choking and suffocation deaths occur in the first year of life, with a substantial portion needing hospitalization in their first three years of life. Deaths from choking however occur in the home environment in up to 95% of cases and that is terrifying as a parent.
The presence of older siblings in the household increases the risk for choking, possibly because toys and other objects with small parts are more likely to be present and caregiving activities, such as feeding, to be undertaken by older siblings. Since young children, who are at the highest risk of choking and suffocating are not able to understand these warnings it is up to parents to decide what toys, objects, and foods are appropriate for their kids.
Drowning is one of the biggest preventable causes of death to young children yet along with choking and suffocating, remains the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. Drowning can happen in less than an inch of water and in seconds meaning that any source of water can be a safety hazard, from swimming pools and fishponds to buckets and tubs of water left around in a home.
Always supervise children in the bathroom and near the swimming pool, even if they know how to swim. Ensuring doors are closed that lead out to pool areas or bathrooms can deter curious little explorers from wandering into areas where they can access water. It only takes a few seconds for a silent fall into water to go unnoticed. If wanting back doors open in warmer weather or have other older children at home who may leave doors open, we would suggest installing a child proof safety gate or barrier blocking off the access areas to provide an extra level of safety protection for your child.
It can seem frightening or overwhelming to consider the worst causes of accidents in the home, but attention, supervision, and a little education are all it takes to keep kids as safe as possible.