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Preventing Childhood Injuries

More children are seriously injured or die from accidents each year than from cancer, infectious diseases, and birth defects combined. Many of these accidents occur in the household. The most common injuries involve scalds, poisoning, drowning, fires, falls, and suffocation/choking.

What can I do to prevent childhood injuries in the home?

Prevent scalds
  • Set your hot water heater to 120 F.
  • Test bathwater on your wrist or the inside of your elbow to make sure it is warm, not hot.
  • When cooking, keep pots on the back burners of the stove with the handles turned inward.
Prevent poisoning
  • Learn which products are hazardous. Medications, cosmetics, pesticides, household cleaners, plants, and petroleum products can all be poisonous.
  • Keep poisonous items in a locked cabinet out of children's reach. When possible, buy products in child-proof containers.
  • Keep the phone number for the local poison control center by the phone. Have a bottle of syrup of ipecac available to induce vomiting if instructed to do so.
Prevent drowning
  • Never leave children alone near water (buckets, tubs, pools, etc.). Young children can drown in less than one inch of water.
  • If you have a swimming pool, surround it with a four-foot tall, four-sided isolation fence with self-latching, self-closing gates.
Prevent injuries from fires
  • Install smoke detectors outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home. Test them every month.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
  • Hold family fire-drills at least twice a year.
Prevent falls
  • Never leave children alone in high places.
  • Don't use baby walkers. They can be dangerous, especially around stairs.
  • Install safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases, and keep steps free of clutter.
  • Install window guards. Screens alone cannot prevent a child from falling.
Prevent suffocation/choking
  • Keep plastic bags and small objects (buttons, pins, coins, nuts, grapes, etc.) out of children's reach. Avoid buying toys with small, removable parts.
  • Keep pillows and stuffed animals out of babies' cribs at nap and bed-time.

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