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When we talk about "childproofing" a home, it's important to remember that a child's curiosity is powerful; children sometimes have a way of getting around even the most stringent childproof measures.
Even so, taking precautions around the house can go a long way towards preventing accidental injury. And that's important.
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), many of the accidents that injure or kill children each year in the home could have been prevented with some simple child safety devices.
Start in the baby's bedroom with the crib. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) advises that the bars of the crib should be no farther apart then 2-3/8 inches. That is about the diameter of a small can of condensed soup. There should be less then 2 inches between the mattress and the side of the bed. Use rolled up towels and sheets to fill in the gap if it's more. In addition, once your child can push up, take things out of the crib because the items could pile up, potentially letting a baby crawl up them, then fall. (Read about "Crib Toys & Crib Safety")
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also recommends the following safety tips:
As children get more mobile, there are other products to consider:
Cordless phones may also be helpful, since they allow parents to reach the phone without leaving an infant or young child unattended.
It's also a good idea to get down on the floor to spot potential hazards from your child's point of view. You may notice outlets you hadn't spotted before, for example. And consider, too, the unexpected ways children can get hurt. For example, venetian blind cords can sometimes cause strangulation, so if you have blinds, remember to keep the cords cut short enough to prevent such injuries. If you have an older home, don't forget about potential environmental hazards. (Read about "Lead Paint Warning")
Here are some other ideas from AAFP:
And don't forget the outdoors. Avoid planting potentially poisonous plants such as oleander. Make sure young children can't wander off into the driveway or street. If there's a pool or other source of water, take special precautions (Read about "Water Safety")
Purchasing safety devices is only half the story. The other half involves installing them correctly and then using them properly.
For example, CPSC recommends that when parents are installing window guards, they make sure at least one window in each room can be used for escape in the event of a fire. Parents who install gates to prevent falls down stairs should make sure their gates are certified and that they don't have openings that are large enough to trap a child's head.
In general, when choosing safety devices, you should look for sturdy construction. Avoid devices that contain small parts that could pose a choking hazard. Parents should also make sure safety devices are properly maintained.
In addition, it's good idea to choose products that are easy for adults to use; otherwise, adult household members may be tempted to discontinue using the safety devices. When safety devices are installed, periodic testing can help ensure they are still working as needed.
Ask a doctor or pediatrician about products that may be most appropriate for your child's age and abilities.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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