Home accidents kill six kids every day — and they’re nearly all preventable.
Your may think your house is the one place your family is safe from life’s chaos, but in fact, without diligence there, it can be downright dangerous. Accidents at home claim the lives of six children in the U.S. each day (that’s more than 2,200 a year) and send thousands of other children to the emergency room regularly, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The only category of accidents that causes more fatal injuries? Motor vehicle crashes.
“While it’s impossible to shield your child from all harm, there are preventable injuries you can help deter,” explains Rachel Rothman, the technical and engineering director of the Good Housekeeping Institute. Here are the biggest problem spots:
1. YOUR BEDROOM OR LIVING ROOM IS FULL OF TALL FURNITURE.
IKEA made big news recently by voluntarily recalling a line of popular dressers after one tipped over onto a 2-year-old boy and killed him. A single death may not seem like much, but statistics actually show that one child dies nearly every two weeks when a large dresser, bookcase, or other larger piece falls over and crushes him or her. So what can you do? IKEA is encouraging everyone to adhere its taller furnishings to the wall with brackets they provide. You can do the same with your own bookcases and other large pieces — and always keep an eye on roaming, young kids and teach them not to climb the furniture.
2. AND ON THAT FURNITURE IS A FLAT-SCREEN TV.
An estimated 41% of emergency room trips involve TVs and 65% of fatalities were from falling ones, according to a January 2015 Consumer Product Safety Commission report. In fact, a survey from Safe Kids Worldwide shows 48% of parents admit they haven’t secured TVs or furniture safely. How bad is that? Well, a large TV on top of an average-size dresser can fall with thousands of pounds of force — that’s the equivalent to being crushed 10 times between two colliding NFL linemen! The remedy is simple: Install straps or brackets into the studs in the wall and on large furniture to prevent tipping and mount flat-screen TVs whenever possible. Also, only place other TV models on TV stands or media centers.
3. YOU HAVE UNSECURED WINDOWS — EVEN ON THE FIRST FLOOR.
Trips and slips — out of windows, down staircases, and off of bunk beds, among other places — result in 150 child deaths per year. Falls are the leading cause of child-injury-related ER visits and the sole reason, in fact, why nearly 2 million kids age 12 and under visited the ER in 2013, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. “Window screens are not strong enough to prevent a child from falling out,” explains Rothman. So she advises installing window guards with a quick release function (in case of fire) as well as gates, mounted to the top and foot of every staircase to keep kids secure.
4. CORDS ARE DANGLING FROM YOUR WINDOW BLINDS.
It seems so innocent, but that cord can be deadly: A child gets strangled every two weeks by the cords of window shades and blinds. (Cables and electrical cords are also a risk and should be put out of the reach of children when not in use). Keeping kids away is key, so make sure cribs, beds, and playroom furniture are not close to windows, but completely eliminating the risk is your best bet. Consider honeycomb shades with internal cords for lifting and lowering, or simply cordless and roller shades. And the cord that runs through the inside of the blind slats is actually just as dangerous as your pull cords.
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