Making a Home Safe for Children

The following are guidelines to prevent children from being injured at home.

  • Keep all medicines, cleaners, and other dangerous substances in a safe place. Lock them in a cabinet out of children's sight and reach. This includes vitamins. Vitamins can be toxic in high doses.

  • Remember that child-resistant containers are not completely childproof.

  • Read all medicine labels closely before giving medicine to a child to make sure you are giving the correct medicine and dosage. Mistakes are common. Mistakes can easily be made in the middle of the night or when there are multiple caregivers.

  • Avoid letting your child watch you take your medicine. He or she may copy this behavior.

  • Store products in their original packages. Avoid using empty household food containers, bottles, cans, or cups for storage of poisons as children can easily mistake these.

  • If items must be stored under a sink or in a cabinet within reach of children, use a lock or childproof safety latch that locks every time the cabinet is closed.

  • Dispose of all extra medicines properly. Check the product information to see if it is safe to flush down the toilet, or consult your pharmacist.

  • Know your caregiver's phone number and the number of the poison control center.

  • Use socket protectors in electrical outlets to guard against electrical injuries.

  • Never allow electrical appliances in bathrooms where children bathe. This includes radios in bathrooms with teenagers.

  • Keep electrical cords out of toddlers' reach.

  • To prevent burn injuries, always check bathwater temperature with your hand or elbow before bathing a child. Maintain water heater temperature thermostats at 120° F (48.9° C) or below.

  • Never leave a child alone in a bath or water no matter the depth of water or length of time you plan on being gone.

  • Regularly check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Keep cigarettes locked away, preferably out of the house. Eating nicotine can be deadly to a toddler or baby. One cigarette butt can kill a baby.

  • Do not smoke in a home with children. Secondhand smoke is a common cause of repeat upper respiratory and ear infections in children.

  • Keep lead paint areas in a non-peeling condition or refinish them with non-lead paint.

  • Keep all pot and pan handles pointed toward the back of the stove when cooking. Do not leave climbing aids for children near stoves.

  • Make sure these guidelines are followed when your child will be staying away from home, including with relatives that may watch them. Grandparents often have medicines that are more easily accessible and less difficult to open.

  • Post important telephone numbers such as:

  • Healthcare provider.

  • Ambulance.

  • Hospital emergency room.

  • Poison control (1-800-222-1222 in the U.S.).

  • Keep important health information available, such as:

  • Immunization records, lists of allergies, current medicines, and significant health problems.

  • Always leave written permission with your caregiver, babysitter, or clinic in your absence. This prevents needless delays in an emergency.