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Childproofing Your Home: An Ounce of Prevention Worth a Pound of Cure

  • ​When a 4-year-old Kentucky boy died of asphyxiation after choking on ground cinnamon, his broken-hearted mother shared his story in hopes others could be spared the tragedy of such a traumatic loss.

    Brianna Rader of Richmond, Ky., related how her son Matty managed to climb on a kitchen countertop in June 2015. He found a container of ground cinnamon, decided to have a taste and started choking. He was pronounced dead at a hospital 90 minutes later. The doctors told Brianna that Matty had inhaled the spice into his lungs.

    If it can happen to Brianna – an ordinary mom raising an active son – it can happen to anyone.

    So, what can be done to prevent these types of horrific incidents? Are you familiar with the highest risk areas for unintentional injury incidents and deaths in and around your home? Have you thought about childproofing your home? What about developing a home safety plan?

     

    Suffocating Truth

     

    Suffocation is the leading cause of unintentional death among children younger than 4, a fact highlighted in a Media Planet article written by Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.

    In the U.S., 1,040 kids age 1 to 4 died as a result of mechanical suffocating and choking in 2011, according to Injury Facts 2015, a statistical compilation of unintentional injuries created by NSC. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says there has been a four-fold increase in these deaths since 1984.

    Just as startling: Infant children are more likely to suffocate in unsafe sleeping environments than by choking on food or other foreign objects. Hersman says the safest place for infants to sleep is in a crib, not in the same bed as parents. Furthermore, she says while stuffed animals and blankets seem inviting, they should be kept out of the crib as the risk for suffocation increases.

     

    Bigger Picture to Consider

     

    More than a third of child injuries and deaths happen at home, according to KidsHealth.org; household injuries are among the top reasons kids younger than 3 end up in the emergency room. Young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that's where they spend most of their time.

    But experts agree any discussion of "childproofing" your home should be expanded beyond toddlers.  Unintentional injuries cause 41% of deaths involving 15- to 19-year-olds, according to Injury Facts 2015.

    Drownings are the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths (after motor vehicle crashes) for children ages 3 to 8 and 10 to 14, according to Injury Facts. The number of poisoning fatalities, including drug overdose, increases after age 16.

     

    Learn the High-risk Zones

     

    Parents or guardians should be on the lookout for potential sources of injury. According to the CDC, most incidents occur where there is:

    • Water: in the bathroom, kitchen, swimming pools or hot tubs
    • Heat or flame: in the kitchen, in the fireplace or at a barbeque grill
    • Toxic substance: under the kitchen sink, in the medicine cabinet, in the garage or garden shed, in a purse or other place where medications are stored
    • Potential for a fall: on stairs, slippery floors, from high windows or from tipping furniture

     

    Safety Tips

     

    Home is the place you relax, play and spend time with your family. It's referred to as Home Sweet Home, after all. In order to maintain a safe home environment, KidsHealth.org says you should:

     

    Devices Intended to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe

     

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends making use of 12 Safety Devices to Protect Your Children. Items on the list include:

    • Safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries
    • Outlet covers
    • Anchors to prevent furniture, TVs and ranges from tipping over and crushing children; one child is treated every 30 minutes for a TV-related injury, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics study
    • Corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges on walls, furniture and fireplaces
    • Knob covers, which snap over door knobs to prevent young children from  turning them
    • Cordless window coverings to prevent strangulation

     

    Be Prepared

     

    KidsHealth.org offers these suggestions to prevent injury or death:

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The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

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