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Keeping Your Home Childproofed

Child Safety Products and Information

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Smoke Detection

Hazards: According to the United States Fire Administration, two thirds of home fires that kill children happen in homes that have no smoke detectors. Infants and toddlers are especially susceptible to the dangers of fire and smoke, since they are often elevated in cribs where smoke can rise and are unable to escape a fire on their own.

Remedy: Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home, with detectors outside every bedroom door as well. Check your smoke detector’s battery at least once a year.

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Carbon Monoxide

Hazards: Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is a by-product of combustion. Common sources include water heaters, gas stoves and ovens, gas dryers, and fireplaces. Dr. Marc Bayer, medical director of the Connecticut Poison Control Center, warns about the dangers saying, "Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause neurological problems, learning disabilities, memory loss and personality changes in children and can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth for women exposed during pregnancy."

Remedy: Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Because alternate light and heat sources like candles and fireplaces may be used during power outages, consider a model that is battery operated or has a battery backup.

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Water Heaters

Hazards: According to the TOMA Foundation for Burned Children, scalds are the leading cause of accidental death in the home for children from birth to age four and account for 40 percent of the burn injuries for children up to age 14. At 130 degrees F, it only takes 30 seconds for a serious burn to occur and at 140 degrees F, it takes just five seconds.

Remedy: Make sure your water heater’s thermostat is set at 120 degrees F or below. Consider purchasing temperature-change bath products like those listed below that will indicate when the water is too hot for your baby’s skin. In addition, when running bathwater, make sure that you run cold water first and then hot water. Run all water before you put the baby in the tub and always test the water beforehand.

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Electrical Outlets

Hazards: Unprotected electrical outlets cause thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths each year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that of those reported injuries, a full 86 percent occurred in children that were 1 to 4 years of age.

Remedy: Install face plates or outlet covers and make sure power strips are covered with a suitable safety device. The Biokinetics Research Laboratory of Temple University conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of the plug-in type outlet covers, and found that in most cases, children aged 2 to 4 could remove the covers. In covers that were 1/16” thick with a flat oval face, 100 percent of the children in the study could remove the cover! So while these covers are better than nothing, it’s best to install the tamper-resistant outlet face covers.

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Electrical Cords

Hazards: Electrical cords pose two hazards. First, they are often attached to heavy equipment or lamps, and babies and toddlers can pull them down onto themselves. Second -- and many parents aren’t aware of this hazard -- if a baby or toddler mouths a cord, even the smallest break can cause electrocution or burns. Saliva is an excellent conductor of electricity, so the burn area can be quite extensive.

Remedy: Buy cord bundlers and secure cords to furniture so that they cannot be pulled. Buy cord shorteners for cords that babies can frequently reach (such as a baby monitor near a changing table). Watch teething babies very carefully, since cords are a tempting treat. Make sure all electrical cords are free of breaks, kinks and holes.

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Fireplaces

Hazards: Fireplaces can cause injuries due to the hard, sharp edges of a hearth, from burns and also from materials inside that could cause choking, even when the fire isn’t burning.

Remedy: Install a fireplace guard to keep children out of the fireplace and place a hearth cushion around sharp edges. It is probably a good idea to stop using the fireplace if possible until your child is at an age where they can understand fire safety. Never leave a child unattended near a fireplace, whether there is a guard in place or not.

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