Making home a safe, secure environment is a priority for any parent. It’s why we have smoke alarms and deadbolts, secure screens on second-floor windows and set the temperature of our hot water heaters to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. But what about unexpected sources of danger in our homes?
While it’s impossible to anticipate and guard against every eventuality, it still pays to think about some dangers that are often overlooked – but that can be every bit as tragic as more obvious threats. Here are some accident risks that are statistically worth worrying about when you’re working on making your home as safe as possible for your children.
TVs keep getting bigger and more of us have multiple sets in our homes. Unfortunately, many of those TVs will end up on dressers, coffee tables, and folding tray tables that were never intended to hold a television. Even TVs placed on a stand made for displaying a set can tip over if not properly secured.
There were an estimated 20,000 injuries related to TV tip-overs in the United States in 2010, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data. In some cases, these injuries can even lead to death. Ninety-six percent of TV tip-over related deaths were among children younger than 10, the CPSC reports. One person dies every three weeks as a result of injuries related to a falling TV.
Fortunately, it’s easy to reduce the risk of a TV tipping or falling. Never place any TV atop a dresser, bureau, bench, box or folding tray table. Using a TV wall mount can help minimize the chance of a TV falling on and injuring a child or adult. Manufacturers like Sanus make a variety of wall mounts and TV safety attachments. If mounting isn’t an option consider using a safety strap that securely connects a TV to furniture and the furniture to the wall. To learn more about TV safety, visit www.tvsafety.org.
The laundry room
You may think of this room as one of the most harmless and useful rooms in the house, but the laundry room holds hidden dangers for children. Since 2005, at least two children have died and many more have been injured in washing machine-related accidents, U.S. News and World Report recently reported. In fact, CPSC data indicates that tens of thousands of injuries are attributed to washing machines and clothes dryers every year. Injuries may range from burns from hot dryer elements and limb injuries from spinning parts to accidental drowning if a child becomes submerged in a filled washer tub.
Most laundry machine-related injuries could be avoided, according to a report from the National Institutes of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine. Better machine design and better supervision of children could prevent injuries, according to the report. To minimize risks, restrict children’s access to the laundry room. Choose machines with automatic shut offs that halt the movement of internal parts as soon as the appliance door is opened.
Many Americans rely on home exercise equipment to stay in shape. Yet some machines can pose a safety risk to children. A CPSC study estimated that over an eight-year period, more than 46,000 exercise equipment-related injuries sent children 4 and younger to hospital emergency rooms.
Treadmills, elliptical machines and other home fitness devices can cause a range of injuries, including cuts, fractures, dislocations, burns and even amputations. The study recommended parents be aware of the risks and take steps to reduce children’s exposure to home exercise equipment.
Never allow children to use equipment designed for adults, and never leave kids unattended with the equipment. When a machine is not in use, unplug it to reduce the chance of a child accidentally turning the machine on while playing on it. When you’re using a fitness machine, keep children away from the equipment.
With vigilance, awareness and some precautions, parents can reduce the risk of children getting injured or worse – and ensure they stay safe at home.