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Duke Medicine: Dangers in the home

Posted March 19, 2012 8:34 p.m. EDT

Although a lot of pediatrics is dedicated to caring for sick children, most children are healthy when they come in for a routine check-up. It is a great opportunity to explore ways to keep our children safe.

Dr. Sara Robert, a pediatrician with Duke Children's Primary Care, points out some common dangers in the home and ways to keep children safe.

Injuries are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children less than 19 years of age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 12,000 children zero to 19 years of age die each year in the U.S. from unintentional injury.

Although the leading causes of injury death differ by age group, these preventive tips about how to keep our children healthy and safe in and about our home can be useful for everyone.

  • Choking items around the home can include food, toys, and household items. Items in reach of a child should be large enough that they cannot fit inside an empty roll of toilet paper. Additionally, old plastic shopping bags or balloons should not be in reach of children, as these can cause suffocation.
  • Mini-blinds should not be in reach of children. Pay close attention to the drawstrings, which should be tied out of the reach of children.
  • Drowning is the leading cause of death from ages one to four years. Any water source, including toilets, baths, jacuzzis, and pools should be closely supervised while children are around.
  • Once children become mobile, they can (and love to) get into anything. How many times have you turned around to find an entire toilet paper roll unraveled on the bathroom floor? That is why we recommend spending some time looking around the house to assure ourselves all dangerous items are safely stored.
  • When cooking on the stove top, make sure pan handles point toward the back of the stove and therefore cannot be grabbed by little hands. Likewise, make certain no toddling kids are around when you open the door to an oven, as it only takes a second to get burns all over an explorative hand.
  • Educate your child about what a gun is and if they should see one: never to touch it --instead, leave the area immediately and go tell an adult.

For many more preventative tips and instructions on Hemleich maneuver, read the full post at Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers tips and health information every Tuesday.