Your Home Safety Risk Assessment

By Caitlin Bootsma

National Child Safety week draws attention to the ways in which we can reduce the risk of accidents that endanger children. This week is not only a chance to raise awareness, but also to review ways we can make our homes and routines safer for the children in our care.

While accidents are not limited to the following risk categories, these are some of the most common. The following is a brief assessment to help you consider ways to improve child safety in your homes and environments.

Burns

  • Do I have somewhere to place hot drinks that young children cannot easily access or tip over? Do I always ensure to put down my drink before I pick up a child?
  • If I have a hair straightener or other hot device, do I have a safe place for it to cool?
  • Do I keep battery-operated devices away from children? (these batteries can burn a child's esophagus) When I change these batteries do I dispose of them safely?
  • Do I utilize the safest options I have when cooking? For example, can I put my child in a highchair while I use the stove or use the back burners rather than the front?
  • Do I keep children away from scalding water? This can include bath water, water used to cook, or even hot water in the sink? Is my water temperature turned down in the event that children encounter the tap?
  • Are all devices that could cause burns not only unplugged, but also thoroughly out of reach? (space heaters, irons, etc.)


Poison

  • Are laundry and cleaning products (especially detergent pods) locked away?
  • Are all of the house medications secure in a medicine cabinet? What about pills that may be kept in my purse, car or bedside table?
  • Do I have Poison Control's number already saved within my phone if I need it? (800) 222-1222 (available 24/7)


Breathing Risks

  • Are all of our blinds and other cords secured away from children? Have we ensured that none of them have loops that are a strangulation risk? Could we remove blinds and instead install some other type of window covering?
  • Am I aware of food choking hazards for children based on age?1
  • Is anywhere they sleep (including if they fall asleep for naps) safe for their age?2
  • Do I check regularly for any small toy parts or other choking hazards that could be within reach of small children, removing any toy that could easily break or be swallowed?


Falls

  • If I have a baby in my environment, are they supervised at all times, and especially when on high surfaces like beds and changing tables?
  • Do our stairs have a handrail that is height-appropriate for kids? Are there safety gates installed if there are babies and toddlers in the house?
  • Can children open our windows? Do we have safety locks or catches installed on all windows?
  • Do I always make sure my child is wearing a helmet when riding a bike?


Water Safety

  • Are young children always closely supervised in the bath? Is the bath immediately drained to prevent anyone jumping or falling in later?
  • Do I take kids swimming in public places with lifeguards or a number of people who would notice any swimming difficulties? Do I keep a close eye on them?
  • Have my children learned to swim, and about basic water safety?


Fire

  • Are all lighters and matches safely stored away?
  • Do we monitor fires in the fireplace, firepit, or even cigarettes until they are entirely out?
  • Do we have working fire alarms?
  • Do we have a fire escape plan?
  • Do the kids know what to do in the case of a fire? Have we reviewed the escape plan with them?



References
1   https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/Pages/Choking-Prevention.aspx
2   https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx






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