Hidden Dangers in the Home

By: Stacy Eckes
By: Stacy Eckes

With three children suffocating in a cedar chest in Clark County, many parents are taking precautions, hoping this tragedy doesn't happen to their child.

Safety experts warn that chests and trunks and any small space furniture that your kids can crawl into can pose a danger to your child.

If a door or lid closes, it creates darkness. Even if it is not locked, a child will panic and may not be able to get out.

Rita Straub a family living agent with the UW-Extension says the best advice is to keep it locked.

"If they hide and they are in an unsafe place for example, an enclosed place, and someone doesn't find them it can be fatal," Straub said.

She also suggests that parents always watch preschool children closely. Once a child gets older, it is a good idea to continually reinforce the rules of the house.

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Childproofing Your Home

Remove Dangerous Objects and Substances:

  • Move electrical cords, cords to blinds or draperies, or dangling strings out of reach and cover electrical outlets.

  • Repair plaster walls and remove peeling or chipped paint.

  • Store unstable furnishings or structures that could topple over.

  • Secure or remove knobs on furniture and cabinets that could be swallowed or cause choking.

  • Store breakable items and those that could cause harm.

  • Remove ashtrays and ban smoking inside your house.

  • Change any paint that may not be lead free (test walls, furniture, and the baby's crib).

Add Preventative Measures:

  • Keep office supplies, tools, sewing and knitting items, and kitchen utensils out of reach.

  • Lock up all items that could cause poisoning, including medicines, vitamins, iron tablets, birth control pills, alcohol, and cleaning and industrial agents.

  • Keep houseplants and pets out of reach

  • Put up protective grills or barriers around fireplaces, radiators, heaters, stoves, furnaces, space heaters, and fans.

  • Keep items like plastic bags, balloons, batteries, jewelry, small hard foods or candy, mothballs, and cosmetics out of reach.

  • Attach child-guard latches to drawers, refrigerators, freezers, and cabinets that are off limits.

  • Never leave small electrical appliances plugged into an outlet.

  • Keep the toilet lid closed and latched with a child-proof latch and do not leave buckets filled with water unsupervised.

  • Keep the water temperature on the hot water heater set between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be Alert and Aware of Behavior:

  • Never leave children alone, especially in a tub or around water.

  • Never leave a baby alone with a preschooler or pet.

  • Always know where your child is and what the child is doing.

  • Be sure other family members and caregivers follow your safety rules.

Source: http://www.mcleodhealth.org/library/chil/4313/ (McLeod Health Web site) contributed to this report.

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