Safety At Home

Home Safety

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children in the United States. Active supervision and childproofing areas in the home can help reduce the risks of a preventable injury. Items such as baby gates, window stops, cabinet locks, and latches are common products that can be used to help keep common areas safe. The following are safety tips to help prevent injury. Use this guide to take a closer look at each room in your home and see how you can make it safer for young children.

Living Room

  1. Kids love to climb and reach for things they can’t quite get to. Unsecured furniture can tip over on a child. Furniture, like dressers and bookshelves, should be secured to the wall with furniture wall straps.

  2. Flat-screen TVs should be mounted to the wall with a TV wall mount or secured using TV wall straps. Box-style TVs should stay on low tables.

  3. Tape over button battery covers on remotes, toys, or other items to prevent ingestion.

  4. Use window stops to prevent children from falling out of windows. Avoid placing furniture children can climb on near windows to prevent falls.

  5. Keep couch cushions clear of items such as toys, sticks, guns or other items that can be hidden and cause injury.

  6. If you have guns in the home, keep them out of a child's sight and reach by locking them in a safe or lockbox. Keep ammunition locked separately from guns.

Doors and Stairs

  1. Use doorknob covers to keep children from going in or out unsupervised.

  2. Limit children’s access to stairs. Always close doors and use gates at the top and bottom of all staircases in your home, even after children can climb stairs on their own.

  3. Use mounted gates at the top of the stairs and pressure-mounted gates at the bottom of stairs or between rooms to prevent entry. Open gates when going through and avoid climbing over gates when holding children.

  4. 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.

  5. Place smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the home and in or near each bedroom.


  1. Keep cleaners such as lye, dishwasher soap, and other dangerous products in an upper cabinet, locked and out of sight. Keep cleaning products in their original container or label them. If cleaners are kept under the sink, use cabinet locks to limit access for children.

  2. Turn pot handles in to prevent toddlers from grabbing and spilling hot liquids or foods. Do not hold children while cooking or heating food.

  3. If a medication requires refrigeration, keep it on a high shelf up and away from a child's reach.

  4. Keep sharp objects, like knives, away from a child's reach.

  5. Use cabinet locks or multi-purpose latches to prevent children from opening microwaves, ovens or cabinets.

  6. Use stove knob covers to keep children from turning on the stove.

  7. Avoid using tablecloths. Children can pull on them and spill hot foods, liquids and other dangerous items over them.


  1. Make sure toys are in good condition with no loose parts or chipping paint, especially for vintage or secondhand items.

  2. Toys should be age and developmentally appropriate. Check manufacturer's labels for guidelines.

  3. 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.

  4. Prevent falls out of windows by keeping the opening less than four inches. Utilize window stops 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.

  5. Place smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the home and in or near each bedroom.


  1. Many medications or household cleaners can look like candy or juice and curious kids love to put things in their mouths. Always keep medicine and cleaners up and away. The majority of medication poisonings are because kids found pills on the floor, in purses, or easy to open pillboxes. Storing medicine out of kids’ reach and in their original containers can minimize this risk. Once you don’t need a medication anymore or if expired, use a medication take back program, like the Big Red Barrel Project in collaboration with the Michigan State Police to safely dispose of medicines.

  2. 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.

  3. Use heat alert mats to know if the water is too hot. To avoid scalds, set your home's hot water heater to 120 degrees and test bath water before putting your child in.

  4. Unplug electrical appliances in the bathroom and store them up and away when they aren't in use.

Laundry Room

  1. Detergent pods can look like candy to kids. Always keep laundry soap or packets up and away to prevent ingestion.

  2. Keep detergents and other cleaning products in their original container. Make sure the container is closed after each use.

  3. Keep front-loading washers and dryers locked to prevent children from opening the doors and crawling into the machines.

  4. Clean the lint trap after each use to help prevent fires. Clogged lint traps are a common cause of house fires.

  5. Teach children to not climb on top of the machines or hang on the doors to prevent tip overs.

If ingestion occurs contact the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) or doctor immediately.

Safe Sleep

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.

  1. 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 the baby warm.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 the edges of counters and tables. Never cook while carrying a child.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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. Make a fire escape plan here.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

Button Batteries

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.

  1. Button batteries are not just a choking hazard, they can cause severe internal burns if swallowed. When a child swallows a button battery a chemical reaction can severely burn the esophagus in a short period of time.

  1. Find the hazard. Search your home for items that may contain coin-sized lithium batteries. Items that use button batteries may include: remotes, greeting cards, hearing aids, games, toys, digital scales, watches, thermometers, calculators, key fobs, flameless or tea light candles, flashing holiday jewelry or decorations.

  1. Keep loose or extra batteries locked away. Place a piece of duct tape over the battery compartment of items that require button batteries to work.

  2. Look for batteries with bitter coating to deter children from placing them in their mouth. The coating is designed to release an undesirable taste to discourage swallowing.

If your child has swallowed a button battery call their doctor or the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 800-498-8666 for guidance. For more information on button battery ingestion visit

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.

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