Friday, 1 February 2013

Five surprising safety hazards for children in your home

When we consider child safety around the home, the first hazards that come to mind are those involving sharp objects, hot objects, and power. However, there are several seemingly benign items around the home that can make hazards of themselves.

Dishwashers – It is true that no matter how many high quality toys you purchase for your child, they will inevitably find more interesting things to explore in your household. One such popular “toy,” as unlikely as it may seem to an adult, is the dishwasher. With buttons, sounds, sliding racks, pegs, it's the works! Unfortunately, that also makes it just as much dangerous as it is amusing. Tiny hands can get pinched in the locking latch, fingers can be crushed under the rolling racks, and sharp utensils can cause injury. The easiest way to deal with the safety risk of a dishwasher is to make sure sharp utensils are pointed downward when you put them into the utensil carriage, and that you keep the dishwasher locked when you aren't loading or unloading it.

Bed – We've come to associate the bed as a place of comfort, rest, and safety, so it may seem odd to see it listed as a potential safety hazard. However, with very small children, certain toys and linens that you might think would be safe in the bed are actually hazards for choking and suffocation. Newborns especially should not have any soft toys or linens of any kind with them in their crib. (If you are concerned about warmth, you can use a wearable blanket). Additionally, the hardware of a bed itself should be carefully checked from time to time to ensure that it's ability to stand and support your child hasn't become compromised, as some cheaper furniture can often do.

Purses and work bags – It's amusing to adults when children try to imitate their elders, or when they make snoops of themselves in what adults would consider private territory. However, an unsupervised child playing with a purse is exposed to several hazards. Bag straps can become wrapped around the child's neck and cause strangulation. Zippers can injure hands. Additionally, small items that are tossed loosely into your bag, such as change or lipstick, can be choking hazards. When you are not using your purse or bag, store it in a place that is out of reach.

Televisions – Most of us don't look at our television sets as particularly dangerous pieces of household equipment—they don't have blades or sharp edges on them that alarm us. The danger in a television, however, is in the weight of the object itself. A flat screen television may not actually be that hard for a child to pull down. The weight of such a fall could hurt the child substantially. To prevent this, keep your television atop a sturdy, low level stand, and either strap it down using earthquake straps, or mount it into the wall.

Standing water - Children have a fascination with water—particularly when they are beginning to explore various textures and materials (that's why there can be much competition for space at the water table in kindergarten!) It's important for you to be aware of this curiosity, and to realize that it doesn't take much standing water for a child to drown in it. Be sure to drain all sources of standing water in your house. If this is not possible, then take measures to secure the area where the standing water is so that it cannot be accessed by a child.


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