According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most unintentional injury deaths among children and adolescents occur in the home. North Dakota Health & Human Services wants everyone to be as safe as possible in their homes, so please consider taking the time to do the following tasks to prevent all levels of injuries; from a minor injury like tripping over a teddy bear to a fatal injury involving a firearm.
- Keep your home well-lit and clutter-free to avoid tripping and falling.
- Ensure that all walkways are clear of obstructions and avoid running electrical cords through high-traffic areas.
- Use non-slip mats and keep bathmats and rugs securely in place to prevent slips on wet surfaces in the bathroom.
- Use window guards to prevent children from falling out of windows, but make sure all windows can be opened for emergency escape.
- Cover sharp edges and corners on furniture with padding.
- Use safety gates to block off stairways and other areas that are off-limits to or dangerous for young children.
- Install smoke detectors in all bedrooms and all levels of the house. Test your alarms every month and replace the batteries once a year, and replace detectors every 10 years, as sensors can wear out.
- Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every level of your home, especially around sleeping areas. Test CO alarms every month, and replace your alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Create and practice a fire escape plan.
- Keep hot drinks and foods out of reach of young children and supervise them when they are near hot liquids or open flames.
- Use safety plugs in all outlets.
- Store all household cleaning products and aerosol sprays in a high cabinet far out of reach from children.
- Use safety latches for all cabinets containing cleaning or other chemicals in your home, garage and storage sheds.
- Keep medications in original containers that have safety caps.
- Keep all medications in a small safe or lockbox.
- Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name. This can confuse or tempt a child to try other pills when you’re not watching.
If you own a firearm and there are children or adolescents in your home, you need to discuss the following with them:
- Stop – One of the most important things for a child to understand is that if he or she sees or finds a firearm, they need to stop whatever it is that he or she is doing.
- DO NOT Touch – Tell your child he or she is not to touch the firearm. A child’s natural instinct is to pick up the firearm and carry it like an adult, which is not safe for them to do.
- Get Away – Teach your child to get away from the firearm immediately. If another child has possession of the firearm, they should not attempt to get the firearm away from the other child. Reinforce to them that their only concern at that moment should be to get away from the firearm.
- Find and Tell an Adult – It is extremely important that the child tell the adult, not only where they saw the firearm, but also if anyone was in possession of that firearm when he or she left the area.
Additional firearm injury prevention tips:
- Keep all firearms unloaded.
- Keep all firearms stored in a locked safe.
- Store ammunition in a separate locked location out of reach of children.
Home is a place of where children and adolescents should feel safe and secure. Awareness alone is not enough to keep your family safe, so putting these prevention tips to use can help prevent injuries of all levels from happening. Invest time in making sure your home is as safe as possible, educate your children and adolescents on the importance of safety and injury prevention and teach them how to call 911.