Pill bottles, detergent pods, household cleaners.
What these seemingly innocuous items have in common is the danger they pose when children are in the picture.
Even though the number of children who have died from unintentional injury has declined by 29 percent in the past 10 years, it’s still the No. 1 cause of death of kids and teenagers.
Emergency rooms across the nation see preventable injuries every day. The takeaway message: Injuries can happen to any child in any home and in any place.
Sometimes that place is in your home. In fact, every day, six children in the United States die from unintentional injuries that occurred in their homes.
We asked Jennifer Hoekstra, an injury prevention coordinator at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, to weigh in on how to keep your curious kiddos safe and avoid a trip to the local emergency room.
Here’s Hoekstra’s expert advice:
- Store household cleaning products out of sight—and out of reach. Cleaning supplies, bleach, detergent and soaps are often stored under the sink. Colorful detergent pods especially look appealing to kids, who mistake them for candy or toys. Avoid eye-level placement of these dangerous products. If your kids can’t see them, they are less likely to be tempted to mess with them. Place cleaning supplies up high and out of sight.
- Read labels. Many household products are toxic to kids, including makeup, plants and arts and crafts supplies. When you buy something for the first time, take a minute to read the label to see if you need to store it somewhere safe.
- Watch your medications. Everyone seems to be on some sort of medication these days, including vitamins. Keep these items in cupboards or medicine cabinets and far out of reach from little ones.
- Watch where you leave your purse/bag. Think about the many things you carry around in your purse or briefcase. Curious children can easily reach into a bag left on a table or chair. Try using a spare bedroom or guest closet instead. Look for an upper-level shelf to store a guest’s bags.
- Keep coin-sized button batteries in a safe spot. Flame-less candles, greeting cards, handheld PDAs, scales and many other household devices all use small, button-sized batteries. If a child gets hold of one of these, they can easily put it in their mouth and swallow it. Most of the time they won’t choke, and you’ll never know they swallowed something harmful. But within two hours, one of these batteries can burn your child’s esophagus. Keep these batteries in a basket, up high on a shelf.
- Share this information with friends, family and daycare providers. Anyone looking after your little ones also needs to take these safety measures, so share them with others.
- Know the poison control number—800.222.1222—and keep it posted somewhere publicly in your home.