Most adults thing of their home as a haven of safety and security. But for young children, it can also be a minefield of potentially dangerous falls. Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children in the United States with over 8,000 U.S. children being treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every day. This adds up to almost 2.8 million children every year.
Dangers that are obvious to adults are not so apparent to children, who love to climb, explore and discover. The good news is, most falls can be prevented with some thought and a few simple safety measures.
Safety Tips to Prevent Falls
- Keep windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that a child cannot reach.
- Set and enforce rules about keeping children's play away from windows or patio doors.
- Keep furniture - or anything children can climb - away from windows.
- Never depend on an insect screen to keep your child from falling out of the windows.
- Install window guards or stops on all windows not designated as emergency exits, to prevent them from opening more than 4 inches.
Falls from Heights
- Don't leave babies alone on beds, changing tables, or sofas.
- Secure furniture to the wall using mounts, brackets, anchors, or wall straps to prevent tip-overs.
- Use safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. At the top of the stairs, attach the gate to a wall if possible. Avoid accordian gates with large openings - a child's head and neck can get trapped.
- Don't let children play alone on fire escapes, high porches, balconies, or decks.
Falls around the House
- Secure area rugs, especially on wood, ceramic tile, or linoleum floors.
- Keep stairs clear of clutter
- Always strap children into highchairs, swings, bouncers and strollers.
- Use stationary play centers instead of baby walkers with wheels.
Most childproofing devices are fairly affordable and can usually be found at grocery, hardware, baby product, or home linen stores. They can help keep your home safe and prevent falls.
- Furniture mounts, anchors, or wall straps - secure furniture to the wall.
- Safety gates - use gates that screw to the walls for stairs; don't use older gates with "V" shapes.
- Safety netting for balconies and decks
- Window guards - bars in guards should be no more than 4 inches, or 10.2 centimeters apart; make sure at least one window in each bedroom can be used as a fire escape.
Most falls occur when children are playing alone. Childproofing devices can help, but there is no substitution for supervision.