One of the biggest jobs parents face is keeping their child safe. Understanding the dangers children face, planning ahead, providing close supervision, and teaching children well is fundamental in creating a safe environment.
Rearing a child is hard work. These steps will help keep your family safe from serious harm.
- Post emergency numbers by every phone in your home: 911, pediatrician, poison control center, nearest health clinic or hospital. For sitters, add your full name, address, and pertinent information of close neighbors.
- Fires are major danger. Put smoke detectors on each floor of your home and a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Test them often. Keep fire escapes clear. Have a plan for leaving your home in a fire. Figure out ways to leave each room. Tell your children what to do and practice escapes at night.
- Hot water burns many children. You can prevent this by turning your water heater temperature down to 120 degrees F. If you rent, ask the landlord to turn the temperature down or put ”˜anti-scald' devices on the tub and sink faucets. They will turn the water off if it gets hotter than 120 degrees F.
- Smoking cigarettes in the house and car can cause fires and harm your child's health. Try to quit. If you smoke, smoke outside. Keep cigarette butts, matches and lighters out of their reach.
- Keep first aid supplies, including different sized bandages and syrup of ipecac, where you can get them quickly, but out of reach of children.
- Learn how to save your child's life in an emergency. Take a first aid and CPR class or ask your doctor for information.
Babies — birth to six months
- Watch your child. While your new baby does not appear to move very much, you will be surprised at how quickly infants become active and learn to move, grasp, turn over and crawl. Be careful about the kinds of items you leave within their reach.
- Never leave your infant unattended. Cars, businesses and the homes of others aren't designed with the safety of children in mind. They can all present dangers to your child with you near by.
- Car accidents are the biggest danger to your baby's life. Put your baby in a safety seat every time he rides in a car. Not only is this the law, it will prevent most injuries and deaths which otherwise might occur in an accident.
- Safety seats must face the rear of the car until your baby is at least one year old and weighs at least 20 pounds according to Mississippi law. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that children remain in rear-facing seats until they are at least two years old or until they outgrow the maximum height or weight for the seat set by he manufacturer. Remember to strap the seat and your baby on every trip.
- Don't leave your baby alone on high places. Babies quickly learn to roll over. Watch your child when it's on the changing table, bed, sofa, or other furniture. Always put the side rails up on his crib when he sleeps.
- Use gates on stairways. By six months, your baby may begin to crawl. Use gates (but not the accordion-style ones) on stairways and watch your child constantly in other peoples' homes.
- Burns. By three to five months, your baby will wave his fists and grab at things. A cup of hot coffee or tea can be a prime target. Do not drink, eat or carry anything hot while you hold your baby. If your baby is burned, put the area in cold water right away. Then, cover the burn loosely with a bandage or clean cloth. Call your doctor or 911.
- Choking. Once your baby learns to hold things, he will put them in his mouth. Do not leave small objects in his reach. Check the floor when you lay him down.Watch older children who might give him food or small toys.
- Shaking. Shaking a baby by the arms, legs or shoulders can cause bleeding inside his head and result in brain damage, blindness hearing loss, even death.
- Suffocation. Put your baby to sleep on his back or side to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Don't use a pillow, or put your baby to rest on soft, fluffy bedding like a comforter or sheepskin. Never lay your baby face down on a waterbed.
- Poisoning Prevention. All vitamins and medicines should be stored in a high, locked cabinet, out of the sight and reach of children. Purchase medicines with child-resistant caps, avoid taking medicines in front of children, and never refer to medicine as candy. Always store poisonous substances in their original containers, because content information needed by a Poison Control Center or physician is listed on the label. Other locations where the child is present (such as a grandparent's or baby-sitter's home) should also be safeguarded against potential poisonings.
- Firearms Injury Prevention. Nearly all childhood unintentional shooting deaths occur in or around the home. If you have a gun in your home, make sure it is kept unloaded and locked away at all times. Lock up and store bullets in a separate location.
Keeping toys clean and safe
- Watch for small parts, sharp edges, loose ties, or other possible dangers for small children.
- Be sure products are labeled non-toxic.
- Cover exposed electric sockets.
- Clean and disinfect toys handled frequently by infants and toddlers. Toys should be cleaned daily or when spoiled to prevent the spread of germs.
- To disinfect washable, colorfast toys:
- Wash toys in soapy water, then rinse thoroughly
- Clean toys with a solution of 3/4 cup household bleach in 1 gallon of water, let stand 5 minutes
- Rinse completely and dry
For answers to your child safety questions, contact your local county department, or call (601)-206-1559.