Childproofing and Preventing Accidents

When was the last time you crawled around your home on your hands and knees? As strange as it sounds, give it a go. Kids explore their everyday environments, so it's crucial to check things out from their perspective to make sure your home is safe.

And though we often think of babies and toddlers when we hear the words "babyproofing" or "childproofing," unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening at home.[1]

Parents worry endlessly about how to protect their children from stranger abduction and violence, but many overlook one of the biggest threats to their children's safety and well-being — their own home. Experts say that children between the ages of 1 and 4 are more likely to be killed by fire, burns, drowning, choking, poisoning, or falls than by a stranger's violence.

About 2.5 million children are injured or killed each year by dangers right in their own home, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). That's why it's so important to carefully childproof your home.[2]

One of the first steps in childproofing your home involves making sure that your kids can't get out of the house and can't get into rooms that aren't childproofed.

Door knob covers make it hard for little hands to get a grip, turn, and open doors. They should be placed on all of the doors leading out of your home and on bathroom doors. It is also a good idea to place them on closet doors and on the doors of any other room that your don't want your child to get into.[3]

Some tips for childproofing your house:

* Use covers on electrical outlets and latches on cabinets.
* Set the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees F to prevent scalding burns.
* Prevent poisoning by keeping household cleaners, chemicals and medicines completely out of reach and always store them in their original container and know your local Poison Control Center number (1-800-222-1222). Also, buy and use products with child resistant caps.
* Make sure that used or hand-me-down equipment, such as car seats, strollers, toys and cribs, etc., haven't been recalled for safety reasons. Call the manufacturer or the Consumer Product Safety Commission for an up-to-date list of recalled products (800-638-2772 or
* Use stair gates and window guards.
* See the Lead Poisoning Guide or take our Lead Screening Quiz to see if your child is at risk for lead poisoning.
* Maintain smoke free environments for your children.
* Remove mobiles from the crib and playpen once your child can stand.
* Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in the house and use flame retardant sleepware.
* Install fire extinguishers and consider purchasing flame resistant or flame retardant furniture in your home.
* Remove furniture with sharp edges or use soft guards.
* Use nonskid backing on rugs and make sure carpets are securely tacked down.
* Remove breakables from low tables and shelves.
* Remove small toys and other choking hazards from around your child.
* Tie cords of blinds, curtains and appliances up out of reach or use a blind cord wind-up device. Remove loops from blinds.
* Do not use a mobile baby walker. Stationary walkers are much safer.
* Do not carry hot liquids or food near your child and do not allow your child near stoves, heaters or other hot appliances (especially curling irons). When cooking, use the back burners and turn pot handles inward.
* To prevent drowning, empty all water from bathtubs and pails, keep the door to the bathroom closed and never leave your child alone near any container of water.
* In the bathroom, use a lid lock on the toilet, a non-slip mat on the tub floor and consider a cushion for the tub faucet.
* Child proof the swimming pool by enclosing it in a fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate and never leave your child alone in a swimming area, even if he is a good swimmer.
* If you must have a gun in the house keep it and the bullets in a separate locked place.
* Be cautious of certain dog breeds (Rottweilers, pit bulls, German shepherds) that account for over fifty percent of fatal dog bites and closely supervise children when in the presence of animals.
* If using bunk beds, remember that kids under age 6 years of age should not be allowed to sleep in the upper bunk.
* Make sure your house is free of enviornmental health hazards, such as radon, carbon monoxide, asbestos, mercury and mold.
* If considering buying a trampoline, keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that 'parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines' and that even when supervised, children under age 6 years should not be allowed to use a trampoline.
* Place childproof covers on doors that your child could use to leave the house.
* Keep a list of emergency numbers near the phone and keep a phone handy at all times in case of an emergency.
* Lock rooms (with a childproof lock or door knob cover) that are not childproof and the exterior doors of your house so that your child can't get out the front door or into the garage, attic, or backyard without help.[4]

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