While we consider our homes to be safe and private places for our family, many injuries happen to occur or around the house. From burns to falls to choking, animal bites and more, there are a number of dangers that are often discounted when we consider how to make our homes safe places for those who we love. Most home injuries are preventable, so it is important to educate yourself concerning the most common dangers and to take the necessary steps to protect your children by keeping common hazards out of reach and teaching them how to be safe.
Common Household Hazards
Following an accident at home, most parents quickly see how they could have prevented an injury. It is important to anticipate all of the things that could go wrong in your home and to have a clear plan concerning how to limit your children’s risks and what to do in the event of an emergency. Some of the most common household hazards include the following.
- Heat and flames— burns are one of the leading causes of child deaths and many of them can be avoided with the right amount of care. From playing with fire to being exposed to scalding water, there are many ways children can be burned. It is important that you teach your children about the dangers of fire and how to treat minor burns while creating an emergency plan for more serious accidents.
- Toxic substances— many of the household cleaners that we rely on to keep our homes tidy and sanitary are inviting to curious children. It is important that you not only lock these substances up, but that you also explain to children that are able to understand just why these chemicals are not to be played with.
- Fall hazards— while it seems like a full-time job, keeping your home free of clutter will keep your children safe. Many accidents are the result of a trip or fall involving toys, bikes or other objects that have been left out where they can cause a child to trip or stumble.
- Firearm hazards— education is the most effective tool for the reduction of child firearm deaths. Most children who play with guns are not aware of what they are capable of, which is why you need to speak with your child about guns even if you do not own any. Should they encounter a gun in your home or at a friend’s house, they need to know to leave and tell an adult as soon as possible.
- Choking hazards— small toys, stuffed animals and certain foods can pose choking hazards to young children. You must make sure you are aware of your child’s surroundings and what he or she has access to, as it is common for infants to explore their surroundings by placing things in their mouths.
- Sharp objects— children should be prohibited from using scissors, knives or any tool with a sharp edge unless under the direct supervision of an adult. These objects should be stored in locked locations where children are unable to gain access.
Educating your child on the different hazards in the home and what to do in an emergency is the best way to both prevent accidents and to ensure that he or she knows exactly what is expected in the event of an emergency or accident. It is important to review all possible scenarios with your family and to devise specific actionable plans on how to respond to danger.
Your children should also have access to emergency phone numbers such as 9-11 and Poison Control along with your work and cell phone numbers. It is best to put these numbers in a location that is easy to reach and view. For more information on home safety, you can refer to the following resources.
Injuries sustained from fires are one of the leading causes of childhood death in the United States and most families are unprepared or underprepared for the prospect of a residential fire. This comes even as 300 children are treated for burns in emergency rooms every day. Education and preparation are the most effective methods of preventing fires and keeping your children safe from burns and fires. It is important that you take the time to teach your children about the dangers of fire and devise a clear plan for how your family should respond to an emergency.
Childhood Fire and Burn Statistics You Need to be Aware of
Nobody ever expects disaster will strike them. A lack of preparation and planning can make a disaster a tragedy, which is why you need to recognize the danger and put together a plan both to reduce the risk of fires and burns and to make sure you are able to respond in the most effective manner if something should go wrong. Consider the following statistics to understand why child fires and burns are such a prominent concern.
- Fire-related injuries are the fifth greatest cause of child deaths in the United States. 47% of those who die in fire-related incidents are under the age of four.
- House fires have a number of causes which include leaving food unattended while cooking, smoking indoors, leaving candles unattended, ignition of gasoline and playing with fire.
- Cigarettes are responsible for the most fatal fires while cooking utensils are linked to the most burn injuries.
- Over 85% of fatal fires are residential. Cooking is linked to the majority of these fires.
- Installing and maintaining smoke detectors can double your chance of surviving a fire.
- Once a smoke detector goes off, you only have two minutes to exit the premises safely.
How to Educate Your Children on Fire Related Accidents
Most children will refrain from playing with fire once they understand what it can do and why it is dangerous. Showing them how to use fire in a beneficial way as a tool, while exhibiting why it can be harmful, will reinforce that it is not a toy to be messed around with. They need to understand that fire has the potential to spread rapidly and can kill if it is mishandled.
Many families do not have an exit plan in the event of an emergency, but making a plan with your family and having regular drills will greatly improve your chances of survival. Drills should educate your child on how to stop, drop and roll, what they can expect from firefighters and why they shouldn’t avoid them in an emergency. You should also instruct your children to stay low to the ground and always test the heat of doorknobs before opening them to determine if there are flames on the other side.
Additional ways to prevent fires are to be mindful of where you store items such as lighters, matches, gasoline and other flammable material. Regularly maintaining your furnace, stove and chimney can also prevent a fire. If any of your family members smoke, it should be the policy that they never do so indoors and that cigarette butts are extinguished and discarded in a safe manner.
After a tragedy strikes you or your neighborhood is the worst time to think about preparation and prevention. To significantly reduce your family’s risk, involve them in your fire safety planning and make sure that everyone knows what their part is in the evacuation plan and what to do once you have exited your home in an emergency.