Keeping your Kid Safe

Celebrating ‘Baby Safety Month’

BaBy-2When I first learned I was going to be a dad, I looked around our home and suddenly saw danger everywhere—the sharp edge on part of the table that could slice a hand, stairs that could lead to a nasty fall and resulting head wound, bottles in lower cabinets with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce but that I knew were deadly…

Basically, I wanted to lock every cabinet and cover everything in our home in bubble wrap.

My wife was (and still is!) much more sensible, and noted all the things we could do to keep our bundle of joy safe, but without going overboard. With it being “Baby Safety Month,” here are just a few of the things you can do to make sure your baby doesn’t get a booboo.

Contain the chemicals

This might seem like an obvious thing, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 300 children ages 0-19 are treated in emergency rooms for poisoning…every day. And it’s not just the obvious things like cleaners—juice for e-cigarettes, diaper rash creams, vitamins, and other things that might smell (and even taste!) good can be hazardous, so move them up and out of reach.

The CDC also recommends keeping the number for the national poison control center (1-800-222-1222) near your phone, and to program it into your cellphone. And, of course, if you think your child has gotten into something dangerous, call 911 immediately.

Put up the plants

Plants are fantastic to have both inside and outside of your home, but did you know that some can be poisonous? While most won’t lead to much more than a stomach ache, you should keep an eye out to make sure your little one isn’t making herself an impromptu salad. Baby Center has a list of popular options to watch for in your home and garden, and provides a few other tips on keeping your houseplants kid safe.

Secure loose stuff

In 2011, there were 12,300 injuries to kids under age 18 due to falling televisions. Other hazards include fish tanks, large bookshelves, and even dressers, all of which can be attractions to younger kids looking to pull themselves up, or for those who like to climb. Ensure those items are secure to the wall or otherwise unable to tip over. If necessary, move them to another area of the house the child can’t get to, or keep the area off limits.

Control the creatures

Some pets are going to be more open to kids than others, whether due to experience or temperament. If your pets are skittish, you can talk with your veterinarian about ways to help your four-legged family members get used to having loud—and often grabby—children around the house. You’ll also want to be careful about medicines and chemicals (i.e., flea bath shampoo, fish tank conditioner, heartworm medication) and ensure they are out of reach.

Another tip: be careful letting young children handle smaller pets like hamsters and gerbils. Kids at that age are still just learning how to use their muscles and might not handle the pet appropriately, so make sure to monitor them.

Strap in that seat

Let’s be honest: installing a baby car seat can be confusing and just plain difficult, especially in coupes with smaller back seats. But having it installed correctly is absolutely vital. If needed, most local police or fire departments can assist you in making sure it is in there correctly—they are usually more than happy to help.

Stop the sun

Getting the kid out and about is good, and most people are good about using sunscreen when at places such as the pool. We found out, however, that you should also use it when going for a longer car ride—one of our son’s arms, and part of his face, got a slight sunburn just from the sun coming in the from the car window! And, believe it or not, cloudy days can also pose a sunburn risk, as noted by the CDC.

Making sure eyes are protected is also important. Thankfully, kids’ sunglasses tend to be quite cheap and many wee ones find them fun to wear. If your child has prescription glasses, consider getting ones that automatically darken with bright light. They cost a bit more, but are well worth the cost.

Sleep smart

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) claims some 2,000 lives a year, but is easily preventable: just make sure your infant sleeps on his or her back. And yet a third of all infants are not placed in that position, according to a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies in May 2014. If your child rolls in the night, you can purchase foam wedges to put on either side to prevent rollovers. (Note that we did this with our son and, while he was fussy the first few nights, he did get used to it.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics also lists bed sharing as another concern. In fact, out of more than 8,000 sleep-related deaths, some 69% were sharing a bed with a parent or parents at the time.

These are not, of course, an all-inclusive list: you also need to keep your stairs safe (especially when carrying them), make sure you’re giving them the correct dose of acetaminophen, cover up electrical outlets and move cords, and a whole host of other things to watch for. But with just a bit of effort and minimal cost, you can keep your kid safe…without the bubble wrap.

Mark Dye

About the author: Mark Dye

Mark Dye has been writing articles, recording podcasts, and putting together books on personal finance for nearly a decade. His work has been recognized by the American Bankers Association and the Institute for Financial Literacy, and received an 2011 APEX Grand Award for Writing. Follow Mark on Google+.

Contact: Mark Dye


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