Injury Prevention for Your Home and Our Community
Your home should be the place you and your family feel secure. Creating a safe living environment can be a challenge, especially for parents with young children or elderly parents. From fire and fall prevention to choking and gun safety, planning and preparation are the real cures for even the most serious injuries.
Turn Your Home into a Safe Haven
At University Health, our adult and pediatric safety experts work to prevent critical injuries to children, adolescents and adults in the home.
Home safety concerns include:
Take the time to talk to your kids about gun safety:
- Explain the difference between real guns and those your children might see on TV or in a video game.
- Teach your kids never to touch a gun and to immediately tell an adult if they see one.
- Talk to your child’s caregivers about their gun storage practices.
TV and furniture tip-overs are more common than you may realize. Over the past decade, in fact, one child has gone to the emergency room every 45 minutes from an injury caused by a television tipping over.
To avoid these injuries, mount flat screen TVs to the wall. If you have one of the box-style TVs, place it on a low, stable piece of furniture built for its size and weight. Use anchors, braces, mounts, etc., to secure furniture to the wall, but remember to keep furniture away from windows.
Curiosity often leads young children to explore areas and items around the home that can be dangerous. Review these common trouble spots to reduce your child’s risk of poisoning:
Cleaning Products & Other Household Items
It’s a good idea to store household cleaners and other personal care products out of your child’s view. You also should install child safety locks on the cabinets you use to store them. Dish liquid, bleach and detergents, along with makeup, plants, pesticides, art supplies and alcohol, are well-known poison sources. Keep these tips in mind:
- Store cleaning products in their original containers.
- Don’t leave potentially poisonous products unattended while in use.
- Keep purses or handbags out of the reach of young children.
- Don’t mix chemicals.
Liquid Laundry Packets
Young children often explore new items by putting them in their mouths. Soft, colorful, bite-sized items like liquid laundry detergent packets can be too much for a toddler to resist. Because these packets dissolve in water, your child’s wet hands or mouth can cause the packet to dissolve and release the concentrated liquid inside.
To avoid the potential for poisoning, keep liquid laundry packets out of reach and out of sight of young children. Be sure to keep packets in their original container, and keep the container closed when you’re not using it.
Almost every medication or vitamin can be harmful if taken incorrectly or in a large dose. Make sure your medications and vitamins are stored out of reach of your kids. Be sure to put them away after every use.
If you suspect your child has been poisoned, call poison control immediately at 800-222-1222. If your child has collapsed or isn’t breathing, call 911.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers or cars left running in garages. Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide alarm. For best protection, interconnect several throughout your home so that one alarm causes them all to sound at once.
Review these carbon monoxide poison prevention tips to better understand how carbon monoxide can be harmful.
If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move the person to a well-ventilated area and call 911 immediately.
Toys and games are often great ways for your kids to express their imagination. With a little extra care, those toys will bring hours of fun without exposing your children to unnecessary risk as they learn and explore.
Read instructions and warning labels before buying toys for your children. Pay special attention to the age appropriateness of each toy, especially if you have young children, to avoid any small parts or button batteries.
You also may need to add certain safety items to the toys you buy. For instance, buy an appropriate helmet if you give a new bicycle, skateboard or scooter. Note that specific helmets are made for specific activities, so be sure the helmet you buy is designed for its intended use.
You use water to wash your dishes, cars and clothes. You depend on it for drinking, cooking, bathing and maybe even swimming. Anything that holds water in or around your home also can be dangerous. The fundamental rule with water safety, especially if you have small children, is never to leave your kids alone around water.
Follow these recommendations to eliminate water hazards around your home:
- Put away your cell phone and resist the urge to multitask when your kids are in or near the water. Give them your undivided attention.
- When bath time is over, drain the tub.
- Keep toilet lids closed and use seat locks.
- Keep bathroom and laundry rooms closed off to toddlers.
- Empty buckets, containers and baby pools of water when you’re not using them and store them upside down
Every sink, toilet, tub, shower, swimming pool or water feature at your home should be monitored constantly when young children are near. It’s also a great idea for parents and caregivers to learn CPR, especially families with swimming pools. Learning CPR is just one of several ways to improve water safety around your home.
As a parent, you know to take extra precaution to keep prescription drugs and other medications away from small children. Unfortunately, a greater (and growing) concern for many parents is actually prescription drug abuse by their teens. It’s important to talk with your teens about the dangers of taking and mixing prescription drugs. It’s also wise to keep all prescription and even over-the-counter medications locked away, and make sure grandparents and other relatives do the same in their homes.
Seniors also can experience serious medical conditions that result from dangerous prescription drug interactions. As they age, seniors are much more likely to take several medications each day. This increases the risk for dangerous drug interactions, mix-ups, and potential for side effects. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy created safety tips for seniors that recommend a number of precautions for seniors and their caregivers.
Sleep is one of the biggest sacrifices for parents of infants, but sleep safety shouldn’t be. Sadly, co-sleeping and roll-over deaths are the leading cause of death in children under age one in Bexar County. Please follow these guidelines to create a safe sleep environment for your baby:
- Only use a firm mattress and a tight-fitting sheet in your baby’s crib.
- Remove any bumpers, stuffed animals and accessories in the crib.
- Dress your baby in sleep clothing (one-piece sleeper) and don’t use blankets.
- If you’re getting a used crib, check it first at www.recalls.gov.
- Avoid adult beds, sofas, chairs and other soft surfaces. These aren’t safe sleep environments.
Make sure your crib meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. Don’t use a crib with sides that go down or corner posts that stick up more than one-sixteenth of an inch. There are plenty of additional sleep safety tips at SafeKids.org.
Sudden infant death syndrome – commonly called SIDS – is a related area of sleep safety. CDC collaborates with the National Institutes of Health in its Safe to Sleep® campaign. This campaign includes outreach and education activities aimed at reducing SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.
Choking is a hazard for all ages but especially for children and the elderly.
Children can easily choke on food, toys and many small household items. Supervise your young children while eating and playing, and remember to keep small objects out of reach. To further reduce your child’s risk of choking:
- Cut food for toddlers into tiny pieces. Children under 5 should not eat small, round or hard foods.
- Read the parts list, age recommendation, instructions and warning labels before buying toys for your kids.
- Keep cords and strings out of your child’s reach, and move chairs, cribs and other furniture away from windows and window blinds.
In older adults, wearing dentures and having difficulty swallowing can increase their risk of choking. Be aware of these preventive measures:
- Avoid foods by the handful
- Avoid large bites and chewy or dry foods
- Chew slowly and thoroughly
- Drink alcohol moderately
- Have fluids ready