When was the last time you crawled around your home on your
hands and knees? Probably not since you were a young child. As
strange as it sounds, it may be time to try it again. Your everyday
environment is new and worthy of exploration to young eyes, which
is why it's crucial to get down on the floor and see things
from your little one's perspective.
And though many people usually think of babies and toddlers when
they hear the words "babyproofing" or
"childproofing," unintentional injury is the leading
cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a
third of these injuries happening at home. Home injuries are one of
the top reasons kids under age 3 visit the ER, and nearly 70%
of the children who die from unintentional injuries at home are 4
years old and under. Young kids have the highest risk of being
injured at home because that's where they spend most of their
Supervision is always the best way to prevent injuries, in the
home and out. Of course, you can choose to childproof as little or
as much as you'd like in your home. Try not to concern yourself
too much about every little detail of keeping your kids safe at all
times. Even the most watchful parents can't keep children,
especially babies and toddlers learning to explore their world,
completely out of harm's way every second of the day. But there
some simple steps you can take to help prevent injuries in the
comfort of your own home.
What Kinds of Accidents Happen at Home?
The common causes of home-injury deaths are fire and burns,
suffocation, drowning, choking, falls, poisoning, and firearms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
most home accidents happen where there's:
- water - in the bathroom, kitchen, swimming pools, or hot
- heat or flames - in the kitchen or at a barbecue grill
- toxic substances - under the kitchen sink, in the medicine
cabinet, in the garage or garden shed, or even in a purse or
other place where medications are stored
- potential for a fall - on stairs, slippery floors, or from
You can take precautions to make these places safer, but the
most important thing to remember is to watch young children at all
times. Even if your home is childproofed, it only takes an instant
for babies and toddlers to fall, run over to a hot stove, or put
the wrong thing in their mouths. Your watchfulness is your
child's best defense.
However, accidents will still happen, so it's important to
be prepared. If you're expecting a baby or you already have a
child, it's a good idea to:
1. Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the
age-appropriate Heimlich Maneuver.
2. Keep the following near the phone (for yourself and
- poison-control number: 1-800-222-1222
- child's doctor's number
- parents' work and cell phone numbers
- neighbor's or nearby relative's number (if you need
someone to watch other children in the event of an
3. Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions
4. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Check out these articles for more information:
Household Safety: Preventing Injuries From Falling,
Climbing, and Grabbing
Household Safety: Preventing Burns, Shocks, and
Household Safety: Preventing Strangulation and
Household Safety: Preventing Suffocation
Household Safety: Preventing Choking
Household Safety: Preventing Poisoning
Household Safety: Preventing Drowning
Household Safety: Preventing Cuts
Household Safety: Preventing Injuries in the
Household Safety: Preventing Injuries From
Kate Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: December 2007
Originally reviewed by:
Barbara P. Homeier, MD
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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