We all realize we shouldn’t keep medications accessible or have sharp objects within reach, but it’s not always the most obvious things that pose the greatest risks. Some seemingly innocuous, extremely common household items can pose unexpected safety risks for the little people in your life. Whether you’re a parent yourself or occasionally care for children or entertain pint-sized guests, you’ll want to be in tune with these potential threats to children.
Whether it’s a “hope chest,” toy chest, or any kind of bin with a lid, risks can be significant. These small spaces can seem attractive to a child looking for a hiding place or a cozy sleeping spot; however, suffocation can easily result. Sometimes, children have also been strangled while attempting to reach an item inside a trunk or chest, when a lid has fallen on them or they have become trapped between the chest and its lid. Between 1996 and 2014, the Consumer Products Safety Commission has received reports of 34 deaths. In order to make any existing trunks safer for children, remove any locks or latches that cannot be opened from inside, and make sure the lid has proper support that can hold up the lid, keeping it from closing on a child.
One of the side-effects of our electronic age is the abundance of batteries required to provide power to devices ranging from flashlights to children’s toys. Of particular concern, when it comes to children’s safety, are those little coin or button-sized batteries. Accounting for 84% of battery-related Emergency Room visits, the danger isn’t as much about suffocation, but a chemical reaction caused by the saliva and the battery, causing the esophagus to burn. Since it only takes 2 hours for the damage to occur, be sure to get a child medical attention right away if you suspect that he or she has swallowed a battery. Repairing an esophagus damaged by a battery can take multiple surgeries. For more tips on responding to battery ingestion, check out this post on the Safe Kids Worldwide website.
Of course, prevention is the best medicine for battery ingestion. Be sure that all batteries are kept out of the reach of any children you suspect to be prone to putting items into their mouths. Also take care to ensure all battery-operated items to which a child has access have tamper-resistant covers that the child cannot open on his or her own.
Furniture and TVs
Furniture-related tipping hazards account for many premature child deaths — one every two weeks. Thankfully, these hazards can be easily and inexpensively assuaged. Ideally, any flat screen TV should be mounted to a wall or at least secured to a wall with an anti-tipping strap. Especially if you have an older television, be sure to place it on a low, sturdy base intended to hold its weight safely. Make sure remote controls are easily accessible, so children aren’t tempted to reach for them. Tall furniture should be secured to a wall or anchored to the floor.
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