Safety At Home
More than 3,500 babies die while sleeping every year from suffocation or strangulation in unsafe sleep environments, or due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Thankfully, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to reduce your child’s risk.
Infants should sleep alone in their crib, bassinet, or portable play yard. The mattress should be firm, sheets tightly fitted, and there should be no stuffed animals, crib bumpers or blankets. Sleep sacks are the best options to keep baby warm.
Babies should sleep on their back. A child on their stomach has a higher chance of suffocation or rebreathing. Rebreathing is when someone breathes air that has previously been exhaled, which has more carbon dioxide than oxygen. This means that even if a baby is breathing, they might not get enough oxygen. If a baby is able to roll on their stomach, it isn’t necessary to turn them back over, but they should always be placed on their back to fall asleep.
Room-sharing is a great option to make breastfeeding and overnight care easier, but bed-sharing can be dangerous for your baby. A sleep space just for baby will keep them safe. The best options are those that are designed exclusively for infant sleep like a bassinet, portable crib, or play yard. Car seats, couches, swings, and bouncers are not good places for a baby to sleep. Make sure to register your crib and check for recalls. Crib safety standards were updated in 2011, so make sure the distance between slats is less than 2 3/8 inches (about the size of a soda can), without decorative cutouts, and does not have drop-sides.
Fire Safety and Burn Prevention
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the home and in or near each sleeping area. Check the batteries twice a year.
Replace any appliances that spark, smell unusual, or overheat. Do not run electrical wires under rugs, and make sure lamps and night lights are not touching blankets, drapes, or anything fabric. Cover any outlets that are not in use with plastic safety covers.
Limit distractions when cooking and don’t leave a hot oven or stovetop unattended. Keep anything that can catch fire, such as dish towels or wooden spoons, away from your stovetop. Use back burners and turn pot handles inward. Keep hot foods and liquids away from edges of counters and tables. Never cook while carrying a child.
Keep fireplaces clean and covered, with a screen to keep sparks from jumping out. Only wood should be burned in the fireplace. Never leave a fire burning unattended and make sure the fire is completely extinguished before leaving the house or going to bed. Never let children play near a lit fireplace.
Space heaters should be at least 3 feet from anything flammable. Never place a space heater where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over or too close to a bed. Unplug heaters when leaving the room.
Keep all candles, matches, and lighters out of the reach of children and away from curtains or fabric. Extinguish candles before you go to bed or leave the house . Store flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, and cleaning supplies away from kids.
Create and practice a home escape plan. Walk through your home as a family and identify 2 exits for each room. Exits can be windows or doors. Choose a location outside, such as a tree or a mailbox, to serve as a meeting place. Build a fire escape plan here.
Teach kids how to escape a burning building. Children should know to cover their mouths and noses to keep out dangerous fumes. When moving towards safety, children should crawl as low to the ground as possible staying under smoke. Make sure children know not to hide during a fire.
In the event of a fire, exit the house or building immediately. Never stop to collect personal belongings or pets, and never go back into a burning building once you are safely outside.
The small, round, flat batteries often found in toys, singing greeting cards, hearing aids, and remote controls, are known as button batteries and can cause serious esophageal or tissue burns. Be aware of where these batteries are found and be sure to dispose of them appropriately when you no longer need them. Keep extra batteries up and away from the reach of children.
Safety in the Home
Kids love to climb and reach for things they can’t quite get to, and unsecured furniture can tip over on a child. Furniture, like dressers and bookshelves, should be strapped to the wall with furniture wall straps. Flat screen TVs should be mounted to the wall with a TV wall mount, and box-style TVs should stay on low tables.
Limit children’s access to stairs. Always use gates or close doors at the top and bottom of all staircases in your home, even after they can climb them on their own. Keep stairs free of clutter and maintain a sturdy railing. When carrying a child up or down the stairs, avoid carrying other items and keep one hand on the railing to prevent a fall.
Make sure toys are in good condition with no loose parts or chipping paint, especially for vintage or secondhand items. Toys should be age and developmentally appropriate. Check manufacturers labels for guidelines. In households with multiple kids, make sure older kids know to put their toys away when they’re done playing. Any item that can pass through a toilet paper tube can become a choking hazard for toddlers. make sure you register any new toy that comes with a registration card. This will let you know of any recalls on toys or games.
Many medications or household cleaners can look like candy or juice and curious kids love to put things in their mouths. Always keep medicine, cleaners, and laundry soap or packets up and away – the majority of medication poisonings are because kids found pills on the floor, in purses, or easy to open pill boxes. Storing medicine out of kids’ reach and in their original containers can minimize this risk. Once you don’t need a medicine anymore or after it expires, use a medication take back program, like the Big Red Barrel Project in collaboration with the Michigan State Police to safely dispose of medicines.
Prevent falls out of windows by keeping the opening less than four inches. Utilize window wedges or other locks to secure the window. Do not trust the strengths of the screen to keep the child from falling out. Avoid placing furniture in front of the windows as it allows children access to them. Secure cords of window treatments (blinds or curtains) to avoid strangulation risks.
Do not leave a child unattended in or near water. Have everything you need for your child's bath ready before you place them in the tub. Empty water out of sinks, buckets, tubs, coolers, and containers after use. Keep toilet lids closed to prevent children from falling in. To avoid scalds, set your home's hot water heater to 120 degrees and test bath water before putting your child in.
Poison Control Center – 24 Hour Assistance
If you think you or your child ingests something they shouldn’t have, even if you don’t know exactly what it is, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. The Poison Center is always free, confidential and staffed 24 hours a day by pharmacists, doctors, and nurses.