With schools and daycare centers closed for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, kids are spending more time at home than ever. Staying home is the best way to flatten the curve, but is your home safely prepared for having kids around 24/7?
Heather Trnka, coordinator of the Safe Kids Coalition at Akron Children’s Hospital, says with many parent working remotely at home, accidents around the home are on an upswing and warns that danger may be lurking in even the most innocent spaces in your house.
“We are seeing a concerning uptick in accidents occurring in the bathroom and bedroom, on the stairs and furniture tip-overs,” said Trnka. “Many parents are working from home now and are distracted. Keeping kids occupied and supervised in a safe home setting has become more important than ever. Give your home a look with fresh eyes.”
Trnka suggests using these tips as starting point to evaluate the safety of your home:
Does your family have a sound safety plan in place should a fire occur? Take some time to discuss what kids should do should a fire start. This is the perfect time to check your smoke detector batteries and consider installing a whole house detection system.
“Fires can double in size in 30 seconds,” she said. “If you bury your fire extinguisher in a kitchen cabinet or bury it in a closet, you lose critical time. They need to be hung.”
Who can resist the lure of a purse? Trnka warns moms, babysitters and grandmas to make sure your purse is stored up and away from inquiring minds.
“Many moms aren’t aware of the threats posed by what’s stocked in their purse,” cautions Trnka. “Your baby and toddler tend to put things in their mouths, meaning they could ingest medications, makeup, hand sanitizer and even keys tucked into a purse. Keep your purse stored up high, out of reach and sight of your youngsters.”
This is the perfect time to get around to all those unglamorous chores you know you should do but maybe have been putting off, like anchoring the TV and heavy furniture to the wall. Secure your stove and any other furniture, like bookcases, to the wall to prevent them from tipping over.
“If you can rock your stove back and forth at all, your child might be able to – and potentially receive burns from boiling water or oil on the stovetop that could splatter onto them,” said Trnka.
Make sure prescriptions are stored in a secure place. Check the water temperature on your hot water heater to prevent accidental scaldings. And never leave children unattended in the tub. Plan out your bath time routine ahead of time, and gather all of your child’s bathing supplies before you run the water.
As the weather warms, nothing beats opening windows to let in the fresh air. But Trnka cautions that falls from windows are one of the most common injuries to young children 5 and younger. A window opening of only 5 inches can be a fall hazard for a curious toddler. Check your windows and screens. “Screens keeps bugs out not children in,” reminds Trnka.
Keep windows closed and locked when kids are around and install locks and guards on especially problematic windows, such as on a second floor, to limit how much a window can be opened.