You’re probably aware that any home may contain potential hazards for a child, but you can make your home healthier and safer with a bit of planning. While supervision is necessary to prevent injury, some safety precautions should be in place even before your baby arrives or begins to crawl. Here are tips for safeguarding your home, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
• Avoid smoking, and don’t allow anyone to smoke near your child. Babies who are not exposed to smoke have fewer ear infections, chest colds, coughs, asthma and wheezing, along with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
• If your child has asthma, learn what triggers attacks. To help reduce symptoms, clean, vacuum, sweep, remove clutter, and use mattress and pillow covers, if needed.
• Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs in your home to prevent falls.
• Install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors, and replace the batteries when you reset your clocks in the spring and fall.
• Place smoke alarms with long-life, lithium batteries on every floor of your home — especially near rooms where people sleep — including the basement. Create a fire escape plan with a designated meeting place. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible.
• Prevent lead exposure. Make sure your child has no access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces with lead-based paint.
• Install child safety locks on cabinets to prevent exposure to toxic substances and chemicals. Also note that pregnant women should avoid paint fumes.
• Always wash your hands after handling raw meat and poultry, as well as after bathroom use and diaper changing, to help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
• Learn the health risks of owning or caring for animals and pets, and be sure you know how to reduce such risks.
• Eliminate cord loops from venetian blinds, and cut cords to keep them out of your baby’s reach. Move cribs, beds and toys away from cords.
• Use safety plugs on electrical outlets, and keep appliance wires and cords out of children’s reach.
• Choose foods and toys that do not present choking hazards, and keep small objects out of your baby’s reach. Learn CPR.
• Be sure toys are safe and age-appropriate. Read labels and recalls (www.recalls.gov).
• Avoid bringing hazardous substances home from work on your clothes, body, tools, etc. You could expose others to contaminants asbestos, lead, arsenic, mercury or pesticides. Learn about preventing exposure to possible contaminants. Wash work clothes separately.
Safeguarding the Sleep Area
Each year infants die and require emergency treatment, due to crib incidents. Follow these safety rules.
• Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet made specifically for crib use. Use a crib that meets federal safety regulations and industry standards, with a tight-fitting mattress.
• Never use strings to hang any object, such as a mobile, a toy or a diaper bag, on or near the crib, as your child could become caught. Keep mobiles and toys hanging over the crib or playpen out of your baby’s reach, and remove them prior to your child being able to sit up.
• Set up a playpen according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Never let your baby sleep on pillows, quilts, sheepskins, waterbeds, bunk beds, adult beds or other soft surfaces, which are not safe and may contribute to suffocation. Keep soft objects, toys, stuffed animals and loose bedding out of the sleep area. Remove boxes, large toys and bumper pads from the playpen. Place your infant on his back to sleep, to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Bathroom and Water Safety
Since bathing and cleaning infants are ongoing, water safety requires special attention.
• Set your water heater thermostat so that the hottest temperature at any faucet is 120° F or lower to avoid burns.
• Don’t leave your child alone in the tub, or in the care of another child, even for a moment. Babies can drown in seconds. If you must get the phone/door, take him with you.
• Follow directions and read warnings on baby hair and skin products. If a reaction develops, call your healthcare provider.
• Keep medicines out of your children’s reach, and use them as directed.
• Ventilate bathrooms to prevent mold and mildew. Use exhaust fans that vent outside.
• Keep cleaning supplies, pesticides and other chemicals out of children’s reach.
Prevention and Preparation
Injuries often happen despite everyone’s best efforts. Be prepared to take action.
• In addition to CPR, learn basic first aid.
• Post the poison control center number near every phone: 800-222-1222.
• Make sure all caregivers can contact you.
• Call 911 if there is an emergency.
For more information on home safety, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyhomes/