Safety First...

"Kids Drown as Parents Take Break," "Four Year Old Shoots Two Year Old Sibling," "Child Strangled By a Drawstring on a Coat." It is shocking the many headlines in the newspaper and on television about children who died as the result of unintentional and usually preventable injuries. It leaves one questioning whether the parents or child-care provider realized the particular situation was harmful or if they have forgotten some of the common dangers our children face.

Lori Marques

Just the other day, a story was related to me about a mother whose doctor told her to beware of their son's ability to stand on his tip toes and reach high. That very night, the boy's father set a mug of hot coffee on the top of the counter. Soon the little one, experimenting with his new ability to reach high, pulled the hot mug off the counter, seriously burning himself. With our first child, many of us are overcautious, reading every book and article we can find on child rearing. We try our best to meet their every need and anticipate problems. As they get older we relax a little and with the following children we relax even more. It's during these times we need to re-tighten the "safety belt." On average, eight children under four years of age die every day in the US due to an unintentional injury.

Get down to kid's level
Parents and caregivers need to get down to the child's level at least once every six months. Get down on your hands and knees and see the world through the youngster's eyes. Imagine that everything is interesting to you, even the piece of fuzz hanging off the drapery. Think about things that may attract a child's attention: the electrical outlets, garbage cans, and even the dog's food.

Parents aren't the only ones who need to be safety experts
Others who care for children such as grandparents, daycare providers and friends need to be on the lookout too. A woman who had a home swimming pool left the little ones in the yard while she quickly ran in the house to answer the phone. While she was in the house for what she thought was only a second, a two year old in her care drowned in the pool. It's important to know that according to the California Public Interest Research Group, in a recent year home swimming pool drownings surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of death for children ages one to four years.

When a man's grandson fell asleep in the car, not realizing the dangers of the extremely hot summer day, he decided to let the child sleep in the car. Unfortunately, rolling down the windows in the vehicle did not cool down the car, and the child died from the heat. These instances tell how crucial it is for anyone involved with children to know and adhere to safety rules. This includes the occasional visit to the grandparents and friends' houses.

Safety around the house
Is your crib safe? Crib safety is of utmost importance as infants and toddlers spend the longest periods of time alone in their cribs. Over 13,000 children are injured in crib accidents every year seriously enough to require hospital treatment and approximately 57 children die every year as a result of those injuries according to The Danny Foundation. As three out of four newborns are placed in a used crib, according to a study comparing registered births to new crib sales, its important to thoroughly inspect the crib you are using. Some of the many areas The Danny Foundation recommends you look at include:

  • Corner Posts: Corner posts should be the same height as the end panels, and NOT extend above the end panels.
  • Cutouts: Cribs with cutout designs in end panels must not be used. Child can strangle by becoming entrapped in cutout.
  • Mattress: Must fit snugly so that two adult fingers cannot fit between the mattress and the crib side.
  • Child's Height: When a child first climbs out of the crib or is 32"-35" tall, he or she has outgrown the crib and should sleep in a bed.

For a complete brochure on crib safety and recommendations call 1-800-83DANNY. The Danny Foundation is a non-profit organization founded to help prevent unintentional injuries, conduct research and provide leadership to set regulatory standards for safe nursery products.

There are many ways parents, caregivers and relatives can keep youngsters safe and prevent some of the possible tragedies that can occur. Here are some tips from our book, Child Safety Made Easy:

  • Never leave children alone around water - They can drown in less than an inch of water. This includes toilets, pet's water dishes, buckets of water, the bathtub and of course swimming pools.
  • Watch out for children's climbing abilities - Items placed up high are not necessarily unreachable by your child. Keep medications in a locked area inaccessible to your child.
  • Bolt bookshelves to the wall - Climbing little ones can bring the entire unit toppling over on them - Earthquakes can too!
  • Don't leave dry cleaning bags in your closet or garbage cans where your child has access - The bag can cause suffocation if the child plays with it. Tie plastic bags in knots when throwing them away.
  • Check the tension on your garage door opener - It should reverse when it hits something.
  • Put coins away when emptying your pant pockets. They may end up in your child's mouth. Also watch for change falling out of pockets and check under couch cushions and chairs.
  • Always strap your child into the stroller so they can't lean over and fall out.
  • Home swimming pools should have a five foot high fence around them with a locking gate or a safety cover.
  • Take classes in infant/child CPR, rescue breathing and first aid. It could save your child's life.

Call on the professionals

  • Discuss safety issues with your pediatrician. Talk to child care providers and teachers. Don't forget other parents, they're an excellent resource for safety issues.
  • News shows often have stories about an event involving a child related to safety. Unfortunately these stories are usually the result of a tragedy. Be sure to pass the information along to other parents, they may not have thought of that situation as a problem.
  • There are professional safety-proofing companies who will come to your home, do a survey, make recommendations and then do the safety-proofing for you.
  • Invite a safety expert to your next mother's group meeting to go over some of the issues you should be concerned with.
  • Read magazines and books to keep up on safety issues. What to Expect the Toddler Years is a great resource in many areas of child-rearing and contains section on child safety.

By following the tips contained here and in the reference materials mentioned, you will soon find yourself a better safety monitor.PregnancyAndBaby.com

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