Childproofing Your Home

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When it comes to childproofing your home, there’s a lot to consider. Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness has information to help families keep child safety top of mind at home to prevent a number of injuries and accidents, from choking to falls and much more.

Choking, Suffocation and Strangulation Prevention

Choking Prevention

Choking happens when an object becomes lodged in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air in the body. Anything that can fit through a regular-sized toilet paper roll can be considered a choking hazard for a child younger than age 3. Families can help prevent choking by:

  • Looking for and removing small items: This is easier said than done. Children are curious, so looking at their eye level can help you see things you may have missed on the floor or around your home. Keep small objects such as buttons, beads, jewelry, pins, nails, marbles, coins, stones and tacks out of reach and sight.
  • Cutting food into smaller pieces: Cutting food into smaller pieces can help children keep their airway clear. Children younger than age 5 should not eat small, round or hard foods. This can include pieces of hot dogs, blocks of cheese, hard candy, grapes, small tomatoes, nuts, popcorn and many other foods.
  • Eating in a high chair or sitting at a table while supervised: Young kids should eat in a high chair or sitting down at a table with a guardian watching. Children shouldn’t eat while playing or lying down.
  • Researching toys before purchasing: Before you buy toys, check to make sure there are no small parts or other potential choking hazards for your child.
  • Make sure button batteries are secured: Ensure that any items that have button batteries (toys, key fobs, hearing aids, remotes, etc.) are inspected and the button battery is secured. Button batteries are choking hazard and can burn a child’s esophagus if they are ingested and not removed in a timely manner. Do not let children play with toys that may contain these batteries and if you have any loose batteries, make sure you store them out of reach of children.

How to Prevent Suffocation and Strangulation in Babies

Accidental suffocation and strangulation are real risks to children, especially babies and toddlers. Families can help childproof their home against suffocation and strangulation hazards by:

  • Keeping the house clear of suffocation hazards: Plastic bags, balloons, shower curtains and plastic packaging material can all be potential suffocation hazards in kids. Try to keep children from playing with them and remove them if possible.
  • Keeping cords, ropes and strings away from children: Cords, ropes and strings longer than 4 inches should be kept away from kids to prevent strangulation. Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, including blinds cords. Strings or ribbons should not be added to pacifiers or any other toys.
  • Minding what your child is wearing during sleep or play: Necklaces and other jewelry, purses, scarves, teething necklaces, helmets or clothing with drawstrings should be removed when children are playing or sleeping.
  • Being aware of your home’s “hiding places”: Beware of containers, such as toy chests, that have a lid with a lock and no ventilation. These can pose an entrapment risk for toddlers crawling inside.

Magnet Safety

Magnets can pose risk of serious injury in children when swallowed. Magnets can stick to each other, even between folds of intestine or tissue. Be sure to limit a child’s risk of injury by:

  • Keeping small magnets away from children: Children should not play or handle magnets found in construction sets; children’s toys or stress-relieving adult desk toys; refrigerator magnets; and rare-earth magnets such as Buckyballs.
  • Checking games or toys that include magnets: Inspect children’s play areas regularly for missing or dislodged magnets.
  • Seeking medical attention immediately if a child has swallowed a magnet: Look for abdominal symptoms, such as pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Note that in X-rays, multiple magnetic pieces may appear as a single object.

Furniture Safety and TV Tip Overs

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, every three weeks a child dies from a television tipping over. Each day, 10 kids go to the emergency department because of a TV tip over. Here are some tips to help prevent tip-over accidents:

  • Safely secure TVs: Mount flat-panel TVs to the wall. Place older box-style TVs (CRTs) on low, stable furniture that can hold the weight.
  • Attach furniture to the wall: Use anti-tip brackets, braces or wall straps to secure furniture to the wall. Install stops on dresser drawers to keep them from being pulled all the way out.
  • Rearrange household items: Store heavy objects on lower shelves or in lower drawers. Avoid placing remote controls, toys or other items in places where kids might be tempted to climb up or reach for them.
  • Recycle old TVs: Find a location that can safely and easily recycle unwanted TVs.

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