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Safety First

September 15, 2017

Household tweaks can protect our family from fire, drowning and other hazards

As the weather starts to cool down, families will find themselves spending more and more time indoors. Every parent wants his or her children to be safe, and that’s especially true at home. More than 2,200 children die from injuries that happen inside the household. One of the biggest threats around this time of year: fire.

“Parents need to have a plan in place for fires,” says K.J. Feury, RN, APN, injury prevention coordinator for Safe Kids Northern New Jersey. “Knowing where to go and what to do when a fire occurs can literally be a matter of life and death.”

“One of the first things parents need to do is make sure all smoke detectors are working properly,” says Feury. “Smoke detectors should be in each sleeping room, near each sleeping area and on every level of the home to ensure full coverage. You may not be awake when a fire starts. A working smoke detector may be the only alarm you have to give you warning to get out.”

Practicing fire drills regularly is also critical to an effective fire safety plan. Once you have a plan set, run through it a few times annually so that it’s fresh in everyone’s minds. Ideally, everybody should be able to escape the house in less than two minutes.

Supervision Is Key

Besides fires, parents should watch out for water hazards. When bath time comes around, never leave your child unattended and make sure to avoid any distractions (i.e., get off your phone).

“Always keep an eye on your child in and around water,” says Feury. “You should also drain the tub right after the bath is done.”

For homes with pools, parents should consider investing in fencing with self-closing and self-latching gates. If the child is old enough, it may make sense to enroll them in swimming lessons.

Common Sense Prevails

Each year, nearly 60,000 young children are taken to the emergency department because they ingested medicine. Feury suggests keeping prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine not only out of reach, but also out of sight.

“Children are naturally curious,” she says. “Even if you put medications on the highest shelf, they may still find a way to reach it. Storing them where they can’t be seen is more effective.”

In addition, parents may want to choose caution over convenience. A pillbox or bag can help you keep track of their dosages, but they also make it easier for children to get into your medicine. Instead, maintain everything in its original child-resistant packaging to limit any accidents.

For more home safety information, visit safekids.org >