A child being injured or dying from an accident is every parent's worst nightmare. Unfortunately this nightmare sometimes becomes a reality.
Based on the records of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death among children aged 1-4 years in the United States is accidents or injuries. These include car accidents, falls, poisoning, electrocution, and other injuries that result from not having a child-proof home.
But accidents need not happen if you observe some safety measures in your home or when you're riding a car with your child. Most of these precautions involve mere common sense which sadly, a lot of parents forget to use. So what are these simple but life-saving measures that you need to follow for your child's protection?
1. Keep Your Child Belted in the Car or Use a Child Safety Seat.
A restrained child is not only less likely to suffer serious injury and death in case of an accident but is also unable to distract you while you're driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 72% of child vehicle safety restraints are improperly used thereby increasing risk of severe child injuries and death. But if a child safety seat is correctly installed, the NHTSA estimates that a child's odds of death from accident are lowered by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4.
2. Keep Drugs and Other Chemicals Out of Your Child's Reach.
Do not store anything more harmful than a toothpaste, soap and shaving cream in the bathroom. Since bathrooms are too private, small children can be unobserved long enough to open anything. Instead, store more lethal substances in the areas of your house which you frequent like your kitchen so you can keep an eye on them. Also, keep medicines in cabinets that are out of children's reach.
3. Educate Your Child.
By the time your child is 4 or 5, he can already understand the dangers of taking medicine without your permission. Whenever you have to give him/her medicine, explain that it isn't candy and that a spoonful or a tablet is all he can have at a time and only if he is sick. Demonstrations can also help. For example, make a pile of white powdery substances such as cornstarch, sugar and flour, and then let your child taste them and see that they are all different. Tell him/her that they're safe to eat because none of them is poison. Then, put out a pile of white cleanser, point out that they look like the others but it is poison so he/she should never eat it. Similarly, you can show him/her clear liquids that look like white vinegar, clear syrup, cooking oil, castor oil, etc. Show him/her the differences in the labels and emphasize that he/she should never taste anything without asking you.
4. Cover Exposed Outlets with Child-Proof Covers.
Crawling babies like to put things into things. A lot of infants have been electrocuted just by putting hairpins, keys, nails, and such into electrical outlets, so properly cover all electrical outlets that are accessible to them. Don't leave things they can put into outlets around the house either.
5. Place Gates on Stairs.
If you have stairs at home, place gates or mini-doors on both ends since children may fall while climbing or descending the stairs. Stairs are particularly attractive to toddlers. In addition, if your child can already walk or is practicing to do so, avoid placing rugs on your floors to prevent him/her from slipping and tripping.
6. Ensure that Your Child's Toys are Safe.
Provide him/her with toys that are age-appropriate. Toys for kids under 3, for instance, do not have small items on them that younger children can swallow. Furthermore, make sure that the toys you're giving do not contain chemicals that can harm your child like lead or mercury. Avoid buying play things that are easily broken. Make a habit of reading toy labels/literature thoroughly before purchasing any toy.