According to the Home Safety Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing home injuries, half of the children who die before their first birthday die from choking or suffocation. Many times such tragedies can be averted.
Parents of very young children can and should take it upon themselves to safeguard their youngsters from various choking and suffocation hazards around the house. The Home Safety Council offers the following tips to parents hoping to do just that.
* Keep smaller items out of reach. In general, anything that can fit through a tube of toilet paper is big enough to cause a child to choke. This includes hard candies, coins, peanuts, and even latex balloons. Always store these items in closed areas or in places that are beyond a child's reach.
* Make the crib a kids-only zone. Pillows, toys and comforters in a crib can cause a child to suffocate. Make the crib off-limits to these types of items, and always put children to bed on their backs.
* Clip window cords. Window cords, such as those that hang from blinds, can be very dangerous if they make their way into the hands of young children. Clip the loops in these window cords and make sure they are always high up the window where curious kids cannot reach them.
* Read all toy labels. Kids have so many toys that parents can easily overlook toys that might be safety hazards. Parents of especially young children might feel a little run down from raising their youngster and unknowingly let a few toys slip past their radar. However, it's imperative parents read all toy labels before handing the toys over to a child. Pay specific attention to the recommended ages for each toy, as those recommendations are often made with child safety in mind.
* Keep kids at an arm's length at all times when around water. Another potential threat to kids' safety around the house is water. Children can drown in as little as an inch of water, and it might only take a few minutes to do so. As a result, parents must be mindful and attentive whenever kids are around water. Bathtubs, toilets and, of course, pools present serious safety hazards to young kids. Whenever kids are around water, always stay within arm's length.
* Erect a fence around a pool or spa. Many communities have laws in place that require pools to be fenced in. But those laws often only mandate the yard where the pool is located be fenced in. While that might be sufficient, it can also help to erect a fence around the pool itself and keep a lock on the gate to prevent curious youngsters from making their way to the pool unsupervised.
* Turn buckets and wading pools upside down when not in use. Many parents purchase wading pools so their kids have a fun place to relax on hot days. When the kids aren't living it up, empty these pools and turn them upside down. Do the same with any buckets you have around the house. Whenever possible, store empty buckets outside the reach of children.
* Prevent burns. Adults know to be cautious around hot water, but kids often learn the hard way. To prevent burns, keep hot water at or below 120 F.
More information on making your home a safer place is available at www.homesafetycouncil.org.