Childproofing Your Home

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 and find a container of ground cinnamon. He 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.

Suffocating Truth

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

In the U.S., 1,141 kids age 4 and younger died as a result of mechanical suffocating and choking in 2016, according to Injury Facts, a statistical compilation of unintentional injuries created by NSC.

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. And 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. 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 are the No. 1 cause of deaths for older children, as well, according to Injury Facts.

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death (after vehicle crashes) for children ages 3-8 and 10-14, 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 substances: 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

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, including:

  • Safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers 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:

  • Tiny Batteries Pose Sizeable Risks

    ​The number of serious injuries and deaths from ingestion of button batteries has increased ninefold in the last decade.

    Learn More
  • Suffocation No. 1 Cause of Infant Death

     

    Take control of environmental factors to keep your baby safe from suffocation.

    Crib Safety Tips
  • Resources for Military Families

    Raising a family is a big job. Serving the country while raising a family is juggling a lot. Military OneSource provides parental support and helps you successfully tackle both tasks.

    Connect to Resources