Keeping Children Safe in your Home

Posted by Injury Lawyers of Ontario on January 18, 2021

One of the key goals of parents, if not the most important goal, is to keep our children safe at home, on the way to school, and in all other circumstances.  As parents, we sometimes worry more about potential dangers outside the home; however, many accidents and injuries to children happen within the home and can be prevented. With the following general strategies, we can reduce the risk of accidents and injury to children in our home. 

  1. Be proactive in teaching children safe behaviours, but also role model safe actions since children are more apt to copy what we do than listen to what we say.
  2. Actively supervise children and don’t rely fully on safety features to keep them safe. 
  3. Be aware of the change in potential hazards as your children grow and mature.  A baby is vulnerable to different temptations and dangers than a toddler or a pre-teen and parents should be aware of, and prepare for challenges and potential dangers associated with the age and interests of their child.

Every year, tens of thousands of children in Canada end up in emergency departments due to injuries that occur at home.  The most common reasons for injury to children are falls, cuts, burns, poisoning and drowning, but children are also sometimes injured due to choking and strangulation hazards.  Any actions we take to reduce the likelihood of these events will make our home safer for our children.

Safety Tips

  • Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors at various locations in your home, including in the kitchen, outside all bedrooms and on every level of the house.
  • Give children age-appropriate toys.  Toddlers and very young children shouldn’t have access to small toys that present a swallowing hazard.
  • Always put away toys after play to prevent tripping hazards for all family members.
  • Store knives away from children, including away from the edge of counters where children may be able to reach them.  If knives are used at meal time, distribute only knives with a dull edge if you have young children in the home.
  • Store poisons and other potentially dangerous products out of your child’s reach. This includes cleaning products, alcohol, recreational drugs, tobacco and cosmetics.
  • Keep hot appliances and hot food out of reach.  And, when cooking on a stovetop, don’t place pot handles outwards where a child may reach them.
  • Don’t transfer pots with boiling liquids while children are close by.  Many children (and pets) are scalded when a caregiver accidentally spills boiling water or hot liquids on them.  
  • Store over-the-counter drugs and pharmaceutical products well away from your children, and never refer to them as ‘candy’.
  • Always check that you are dispensing the proper dosage of medicine for a child, and if the label on the drug doesn’t specify a proper amount for a child of a certain weight and age (or, if it is a new medicine for your child), check with your pharmacy or doctor.
  • Check the temperature of food and liquids before giving them to your child.
  • Similarly, check the temperature of bath water or a shower before letting your young child take a bath or shower.
  • Always supervise young children while they take a bath.
  • Surround your pool with a 4-sided 5-foot fence that has a self-latching gate.
  • Monitor and stay within a few feet of young children in backyard pool.areas at all times. 
  • Young children who cannot swim should wear a floatation device while playing around a pool, even while you're nearby.
  • Reduce the risk that your child might fall from an upper story by installing window guards and locking doors to balconies at all times.
  • For babies 6 months and under, support their head and neck when holding them, as neck muscles are too weak to support their heads at this age.
  • Place gates at the top of stairways to prevent crawling babies and toddlers from falling.
  • Don't leave a baby unattended on a table, bed or another surface, where they could roll off and become injured.
  • As your young children grow and expand their horizons, remind them about safety rules for pools and ponds, as well as safety on swings, slides and other playground equipment.
  • Keep matches and candles out of reach and never leave candles unattended.
  • Don’t leave babies and young children unattended around pets.
  • Discuss what to do in the case of fire and practice strategies for evacuating the home.

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