Accidents and poisonings are by far the most frequent causes of death and crippling among children.

It is your responsibility to provide a safe environment for your child.

Read the following instructions carefully. Do not wait until your child has already been hurt before you make your home safe.

  1. When traveling, a car seat (or safety belt for older children) must always be used. The younger your baby, the more he/ she needs to be protected. A child is safest when riding rearfacing until 2 years of age. Secure the car seat properly into the car’s seat belts and strap your child into the car seat. The AAP recommends that children remain in booster seats until they reach a height of 57 inches.

  2. The sides and ends of your baby’s crib should be protected to prevent your baby from getting caught between the bars. The slats should be less than 2 3/8 inches apart. Corner posts should be less than 5/8 of an inch high. See that the sides of your crib are up and latched whenever you turn away from your baby. Mattresses should be firm and snugly fitted. There should be a minimum of 26 inches from the top rail to the mattress, with the mattress set at the lowest point. There should be no sharp edges or lead paint. The AAP advises against putting any objects in the crib including blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumpers, etc.

  3. Always stay with your baby when he/she is in the bath. Always grab a wrist or ankle firmly if you must turn away, even for a moment!

  4. Keep him away from faucet handles – babies have been burned by hot water. Turn your hot water heater down so that your hot water temperature is 120 to 125 degrees maximum.

  5. Hot coffee, either from a cup or a percolator, is the leading cause of burns. Immediate application of cold running water over the burn area is the best initial first aid you can give.

  6. Your baby should not be left alone in any location from which he might fall (table, counter, chair, bed, couch, etc…). Do not turn away, even for a moment, even at two weeks of age. This advice applies even to babies restrained in infant carriers or infant seats.

  7. Your baby should be given only safe toys. Rattles should be unbreakable. Toys should have no sharp points and no small parts which might break off and choke him.

  8. Keep plastic bags, safety pins, magnets, small batteries and other small objects out of your baby’s reach. If you suspect that your baby swallowed a battery, magnets, or a sharp object like a safety pin, go to the nearest pediatric emergency room.

  9. Children should not have anything tied around their neck. Cords, pacifiers, and necklaces used in this fashion have been known to result in strangulation.

  10. Toddlers and early school age children are prone to the ingestion of poisons, either in the form of medicines, cleaning compounds, toxic plants, insecticides, or alcohol. If ingestion occurs, call Poison Control immediately at (202) 625-3333 or (800) 222-1222 or go straight to the nearest Emergency Room.

  11. Head injury from bicycle accidents is a leading cause of serious injury in children. Small children riding in bicycle seats and older children and teenagers riding their own bicycles should wear an approved safety helmet. Helmets bearing a sticker from ANSI (American National Standards Institute) or the Snell Memorial Foundation indicates that strict safety standards have been met.

  12. To prevent unnecessary risks in bicycle riding, avoid buying a bike that a child must grow into. A beginning cyclist should have a standard or three gear bicycle with pedal brakes. The child should be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground when sitting on the seat, stand straddling the crossbar (if there is one) with one inch clearance between the crossbar and crotch, and apply pedal brakes or hand brakes without difficulty and with enough force to stop quickly.

  13. Falls are common in toddlers and active children. Let your doctor know if there is a deep cut or if your child has difficulty or pain in moving his arms or legs. Bumps on the head are frequent. If your child gets up right away and seems fine, there is probably nothing seriously wrong. If he is tired, let him go to sleep, but check him every 3 – 4 hours to make sure he stirs as in a normal sleep. If there is a loss of consciousness, vomiting, change in coordination or behavior, or he “just doesn’t act right” call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room.

  14. Knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is highly recommended for parents and sitters. Contact the local Red Cross or your community hospital for class information.
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