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New Research Reveals the Majority of Parents Overlook Key Steps to Keep Curious Toddlers Safe at Home
Date:7/27/2009

WASHINGTON, July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- New research by the national, nonprofit Home Safety Council (HSC) reveals that the vast majority of parents (83 percent) admit that they have left their toddler unsupervised in the home -- for a few moments, or even longer. The survey polled parents of children between the ages of 2 and 4 and found that while almost all had taken some steps to childproof their home, very few have successfully kept their toddlers from getting into dangerous situations.

Keeping-up with curious toddlers isn't easy. In fact, nearly nine out of ten parents surveyed report that their toddler has gotten into trouble the moment their back was turned, underscoring the necessity for constant and close supervision. The survey shows that nearly three-quarters of toddlers have climbed on furniture, and more than half have been caught taking items from a purse or climbing out of the crib.

"Toddlers are smarter, faster and more curious than they were as babies. Things in your home that didn't pose a threat to your infant could injure your toddler in the blink of an eye," said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. "Staying one step ahead of your child is the key to preventing injury. As soon as your baby starts standing-up in the crib or attempting those first steps, it's time to get down on your hands and knees and take a second look at the safety of your home from your toddler's point-of-view. Inspect each room to spot the hazards that need to be fixed."

Toddler Safety Tips

To help parents stay one step ahead, the Home Safety Council recommends taking a room-by-room approach to fix potential dangers before toddlers are fully mobile. At the first signs of sitting and pulling-up, parents need to take a second look at the safety of their home. Baby-proofing was a good start, but toddler-proofing is different and just as critical. Follow the simple safety steps below to keep toddlers safe -- from the nursery to the backyard and all of the rooms in between.

Parents can test their safety knowledge online and create a customized home safety checklist by visiting www.mysafehome.org.

Nursery Safety Tips:

  • Keep cribs and other furniture away from windows. Have window guards or window stops on upper windows. Make sure an adult can open the window fast in case of a fire.
  • Secure tall pieces of furniture by anchoring them to the wall stud so they don't tip over if your child tries to climb on them.
  • Use safety gates at the nursery door and at the tops and bottoms of stairs. For the tops of the stairs, gates that screw to the wall are more secure than "pressure gates."
  • Window blind cords should not have a loop. Cut any loop in two pieces and place them up high where children cannot reach them.
  • Pick up small items like buttons, coins, jewelry and small toys. If something is small enough to fit in a toilet paper tube, it is not safe for little children.
  • Make sure a smoke alarm is inside or near every bedroom. Test each smoke alarm every month. Push the test button until you hear a loud noise. Put new batteries in your smoke alarms at least one time each year.

Kitchen Safety Tips:

  • Teach children to stay away from the stove when you're cooking. Put tape on the floor so they can see where the "no-kid-zone" is.
  • Use back burners. Keep pot handles turned towards the back of the stove.
  • Store matches, lighters and candles up high, ideally in a locked cabinet so that young children cannot reach them. Choose a cabinet that is not located over the stove or other heat-producing appliance.
  • Keep hot drinks away from the edge of tables and counters. Do not use table cloths or placemats because young children can pull them down.
  • Cut your toddler's food into very small bites. Always make sure children eat while sitting down. Do not let them have round food like peanuts or hard candy.

Bathroom Safety Tips:

  • Set your water heater at 120 degrees F or just below the medium setting.
  • Make sure the electrical outlet has a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Test it monthly.
  • Always stay close enough to touch your child when he or she is in or near the bathtub or near the toilet.
  • Install special tub spouts and shower heads that prevent hot water burns. They will sense if the water gets hot enough to cause a burn and shut off the flow of water.
  • Keep the bathroom door closed. Use an outside lock or door knob cover to keep young children out of the bathroom when you are not with them.
  • Keep toilet lids shut and use toilet seat locks.
  • Know the things in your bathroom that are poisons. Look for the words "Caution," "Warning," "Danger" or "Keep Out of Reach of Children" on the box or bottle. Store all dangerous products, including medicines, cosmetics (make-up) and cleaning supplies in a locked cabinet.

Backyard Safety Tips:

  • Stay with your children the whole time they are playing on backyard play sets.
  • Make sure the area under and around play equipment is covered with soft materials. Rubber mulch, pea gravel and hardwood chips are the best surfaces to protect against injuries when children fall.
  • Grass and dirt under the play set are not safe. Soft materials should be nine to 12 inches deep and extend six feet from all sides of play equipment.
  • If you have a pool or spa, install a fence that goes all the way around it. The fence should close and latch by itself. It should be at least five feet high. Always keep gates closed and latched. Never prop a gate open.
  • When children are in or near the water, an adult should always watch them very carefully. Do not take your eyes off of children when they are in or near water.

For additional tips to keep toddlers safe at home, please visit: www.mysafehome.org.

About the Home Safety Council

The Home Safety Council (HSC) is the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to preventing home related injuries that result in nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits on average each year. Through national programs, partnerships and the support of volunteers, HSC educates people of all ages to be safer in and around their homes. The Home Safety Council is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization headquartered in Washington, DC.

    Contact: Shannon McDaniel
             Brand Resources Group, Inc.
             703-739-8341


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SOURCE Home Safety Council
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