Toddler safety -- Prevent five fatal home accidents

by Melissa Jaramillo

Toddler and home repairsOur homes are always safe and secure for our loved ones...right? As much as we'd like to believe this statement to be true, you can guarantee at least a good percent of the time, it isn't.

Home accidents are known to cause more fatal injuries than any other cause except for motor vehicle accidents.

This hardcore fact means there's more opportunity fo0r things to go wrong at home than in or on trains, planes or automobiles combined.

Most household accidents are usually the result of human error or misjudgment and should be preventable. There are 18,000 deaths and nearly 13 million injuries a year, according to the research done by Safe Kids (which merged with the Home Safety Council in 2011). How can you help prevent these dangerous situations?

Five leading causes of fatal home accidents

Slips, trips and falls

Falls account for more than one-third of all injury deaths, and they are the leading cause of home injuries.

• Eliminate tripping hazards such as electrical cords
• Install night-lights near stairways, hallways and in dark areas
• Secure loose rugs with non-skid pads
• Apply non-skid strips to your bathtubs and showers
• Keep stairways clear of toys, shoes, and other items
• Purchase a sturdy step tool with a handrail
• Install baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs

Poisonings

National safety studies reveal more than two-thirds of homes with young children under six report storing household chemicals in unlocked places.

• Keep harmful household chemicals in an out-of-reach, locked cabinet
• Never leave children alone with household products or medications
• Keep household medicines and poisonous products in their original labeled, child-resistant containers
• Keep the number of your local poison control center near the phone or programmed in speed dial. The national poison control center number is 1-800-222-1222.

Fires

The major causes of home fires include heating equipment, electrical appliances, matches, cooking and smoking.

• Install smoke alarms in the hallway, bedrooms and on each level of your home
• Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries every year
• Keep matches, cigarette lighters and candles away from flammable objects
• Keep curtains, furniture and bedding away from heaters
• Allow air space around the TV and stereo to prevent overheating
• Keep at least one fire extinguisher in your home
• Don't overload electric outlets
• Develop an escape plan that includes two escape routes, including a safe meeting spot

Suffocation and choking

While more than one-third of choking or suffocation fatalities are associated with food, there are many other risks.

• Never place infants face down on soft bedding or pillows
• Keep plastic bags out of children's reach
• Cut children's food into small pieces
• Keep balloons away from babies and toddlers
• Keep your eye on infants around strangulation risks such as window blind cords, long telephone cords, drawstrings, necklaces and headbands

Drowning

Children can drown swiftly and silently in as little as two inches of water.

• Don't leave buckets of water around the house when you are cleaning
• Never leave an infant unattended in the bathtub
• Use toilet safety locks to keep toddlers from falling in
• Don't leave children unattended in a pool or hot tub
• Empty out small plastic pools as soon as you're done using them
• Install self-closing and self-latching gates and doors leading to the pool or spa
• Obtain cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification for infants and children

If a family keeps an eye on their kids and uses a hands-on approach when it comes to injury prevention and safety, common and potentially deadly household accidents should be avoidable. As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.