Take the time to survey your home for things that may pose a danger to your child. Try sitting on the floor in the middle of each room to see how it looks through a child’s eyes. Look for things that might attract attention and consider how they can be made safe.
- Garbage and recycling materials are stored in covered containers.
- Keep purses closed and out of reach of children, a purse can be the source of medicines and matches.
- Set your home’s water heater temperature at no more than 48°C / 120°F to prevent scalds and burns.
- Decals placed at a child’s eye level on sliding glass doors can help to warn them when the doors are closed.
- Buy a special guard to keep a patio door locked to prevent your child from opening it and slipping out. This will also help protect your door from the outside and prevent unwanted entry.
- Be aware that any open door, can pose a hazard.
- Watch for little fingers when closing doors.
- Use safety doorknob covers on doors that you don’t want your child to open. Attach a bell to the door so you can hear it when it does open.
- Install window safety devices and adjust them so they cannot open more than 100 millimetres (four inches).
- Don’t leave furniture or anything that can be climbed upon near a window.
- Install safety glass in large windows and French doors so they won’t shatter if a child falls into them.
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Window Covering Safety Council are joining with major manufacturers, importers, and retailers across the United States to warn parents and caregivers that young children can become entangled and strangle in pull cords- for window coverings. CPSC is aware of at least 194 deaths in the United States since 1981. With the continuing number of strangulation deaths, CPSC is reissuing this warning which was first issued in 1985.Window covering cords are one of the products most frequently associated with strangulation of children under five. The younger victims, usually between 10 to 15 months of age, typically are in cribs which have been placed near window covering pull cords.Although a few older children, usually from two to four years old, find cords hanging near the floor, most of these victims become entangled in cords while climbing on furniture to look out the window. Entanglement and strangulation can occur when a child is alone in a room for only a short time. The CPSC and the Window Covering Safety Council urge parents to eliminate the loop in two-corded horizontal blinds, and pleated and cellular shades by using any of the following technical fixes:
- Horizontal Blinds
- Cut the cord above the tassel, remove the equalizer buckle, and add a separate tassel at the end of each cord, or cut the cord above the tassel, remove the equalizer buckle, and add a breakaway tassel which will separate if a child becomes entangled in the loop.
- Pleated or Cellular Shades
- Leave the cord stop near the headrail in place. Cut the cord above the tassel and add a separate tassel at the end of each cord. Warning: When shades are raised, a loop will appear above the cord stop. Keep cord out of the reach of children.
- Vertical Blinds, Continuous Loop Systems, and Drapery Cords
- Install a cord tie-down device. Permanently attach and use the tie-down to floor, wall, or window jamb.
- General Advice
- Keep all window covering cords out of the reach of children. Unless the cords can be completely removed from a child’s reach, including when a child climbs on furniture, CPSC recommends against knotting or tying the cords together which creates a new loop for a child to become entangled.
- Replacement safety tassels are available free of charge at window covering retailers. Consumers can call (800) 506-4636 to find the location of the nearest store or to order free tassels.
- CPSC also recommends that when you install window coverings, adjust the cords to their shortest length possible. When you order new custom window coverings, specify that you want a short cord.
- Horizontal Blinds
- Cover all electrical outlets that are not in use with safety plugs that snap into the outlets. Children might be tempted to try to insert something into exposed outlets. Check for exposed outlets behind furniture that you may have overlooked.
- Keep fans and other appliances up high, out of children’s reach.
- Do not use extension cords unless absolutely necessary. Be sure that the extension cord is rated for the amount of electricity that you will draw through it.
- Shorten all cords with cord shorteners. Shortening extension cords will reduce the risk of tripping.
Halls and Stairways
- Safety gates should be installed at all open stairways if required. If a gate is not provided, place a barrier of some kind in front of the stairway that a child cannot climb over. Accordion-style gates with large V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings should not be used since they can entrap a child’s head, causing strangulation. A gate with a straight top or small V’s and diamond-shaped openings is safer. Make sure pressure gates are firmly in place and can’t be dislodged by the child.
- Place the safety gate bar latch on the side farthest from your child’s reach.
- Never leave anything on the stairs that you can trip on while carrying your baby.
Furniture and Accessories
- Put away any unstable or rickety furniture your child could pull over. Fasten to the wall high bookcases or other tall pieces that your child may be able to pull down.
- Keep all drawers firmly closed so your child can’t shut fingers in them or climb on them.
- General Kitchen Safety
- Keep all cleaning products, pesticides, and other volatile substances locked up.
- Use unbreakable dishes for feeding a young child.
- Keep step stools out of reach.
- Clean up spills immediately to prevent slips and falls.
- Keep boxes of plastic kitchen wraps and plastic grocery bags out of your child’s reach to avoid suffocation.
- Don’t use long phone cords that a child could trip on or wrap around their neck.
- Countertops, Cupboards and Drawers
- Never sit your child on the countertop. Besides the danger of a fall, they can easily reach for items that can harm them.
- Use cabinet and drawer guard latches to keep certain reachable cupboard doors and drawers off limits to your baby.
- Use cord shorteners on appliance cords in order to keep them short and away from where child can pull on them.
- Keep garbage in a tightly covered container, or better yet, behind a securely latched cabinet door.
- Highchair Safety
- Be sure the tray is locked and always secure the restraint system.
- To prevent pinching watch your child’s fingers and hands as you slide the tray in place.
- Never leave your child alone in a room in a highchair.
- Keep the highchair a safe distance from tables and countertops. A child can tip it over by pushing off with hands and feet.
- Make sure your highchair has the ‘CSA’ label.
- Turn the handles of pots and pans toward the back of the stove or counter. Use the back burners for cooking whenever possible.
- Don’t let your child play at your feet while you are cooking.
- Use a stove guard to prevent your child from reaching the stove burners.
- If your child can reach the controls on the front of the stove, try installing stove knob covers.
- Never leave a boiling pot or sizzling skillet unattended on the stove.
- Teach your child that the oven is ‘hot’ and not to touch.
- Install an appliance latch on appliances such as the microwave, refrigerator and dishwasher.
- Keep the dishwasher closed when not in use. There are many sharp edges that can hurt a young child inside.
- Store appliances such as electric toasters and can openers, where your child can’t reach. A child can be electrocuted if they attempt to plug them in.
Ensure that your child cannot become trapped inside the toy box:
- lids should be lightweight and removable
- latches should be removed and ventilation holes added
- hinged lids should include a support that will hold the top open.
- Never let children lock a bathroom door. Go in the bathroom with young children to assure this doesn’t happen. If the door does become locked it should be possible to unlock it by inserting a pin into the hole on the outside of the doorknob. Know where the unlocking pin is. When not in use, keep the bathroom door closed and the toilet seat and lid down. If at all possible, place a guard on the lid to lock the toilet seat.
- Be sure that all medications are stored high and out of reach of children. This also applies to any cleaning supplies, hair sprays, and other personal care items. Consider adding child proof locks to the lower cupboard doors.
- Place adhesive non-slip stickers in the bathtub and shower to prevent falls.
- Use soft, inflated spout covers to save child from bumps and bruises.
- Never leave a child under 5 in a tub by themselves.
- All medications should be kept in a locked and very secure place at all times. Remember that a high place is not always a secure place and they should be kept out of sight and out of reach.
- Make sure all medicines are in child-resistant containers.
- Don’t save old prescription medicines. Flush them down the toilet when you are finished using them.
- Don’t tell your child that medicine tastes “like candy” or is good. It’s better to have to struggle to get them to take it than to tempt them to take more when they don’t really need it.
- Store children’s vitamins in a safe place also. Overdosing on vitamins is among the top phone calls received by Poison Control Centres.
More information about poisoningVisit the Poison First Aid page on this site.
If your child does manage to swallow or eat any medicine, get whatever you can out of the mouth and call 911 immediately. Have the bottle in your hand so you can tell them what was ingested and approximately how much. Keep syrup of ipecac on hand but NEVER use it unless you are advised by the physician or poison control to do so. Keep the Poison Control phone number on hand by every phone in your household in case of an emergency such as this.
- When buying items, look for the CSA certification sticker. This indicates voluntary safety certification for common children’s items. Equipment with this certification has passed rigorous safety standards and is as safe as current manufacturing can make it.
- On all items you will consider purchasing, look for lead free paint; sturdy non-tip design; smooth edges and rounded corners; and safety restraint straps.
- Try to avoid rough edges; sharp points; small parts that can break loose; exposed hinges; attached strings, cords or ribbons on items you might consider using.
- Cribs made before September 1986 are dangerous. They do not meet current standards. It is illegal to sell, import or advertise these cribs. Look for a label on the crib that shows when the crib was made, cribs that were made before September 1986 or without a label are not safe for use.
- Ensure there is a Canadian Safety Association (CSA) or Consumer Product Safety Commission label (CPSC).
- Bars should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart with no splinters or cracks in wood.
- Mattress adjustability with a minimum rail height of 22 inches when the mattress is at its highest position and the rail is at its lowest.
- Be sure the mattress is firm and fits snugly against the frame. You should not be able to get two fingers between the mattress and the crib sides. Check the crib often to make sure the frame is solid. Tighten loose screws regularly.
More information about cribsVisit Health Canada’s Is your child safe? Sleep Time page.
- Health Canada recommends that soft mattresses, pillows, comforters, stuffed toys and bumper pads not be used in cribs.
- When placing the crib in the room, make sure that your child cannot reach lamps, electrical cords, shades or blinds.
- Don’t place the crib near a window especially on the second level of a house.
- Never tie the baby in the crib and do not let the baby wear a necklace or a soother on a cord around the neck. Don’t leave rattles, teethers or squeeze toys in the crib. They can become wedged in child’s mouth causing suffocation.
- Bassinets and Cradles
- A bassinet or cradle should have a wide base and be sturdy and stable.
- Do not use a basket not intended to be a bassinet. Loose wicker can poke and hurt a baby.
- The Changing Table
- Look for a table that is sturdily built, with high sides and a safety strap. Always keep the child fastened and never turn your back, even for a second.
- Keep diaper-changing supplies out of baby’s reach.
- If you keep a diaper pail near the changing table, be sure it has a locking lid. If it does not, keep it where your child cannot get at it.
- Infant Seats (also called Bouncer Seats)
- Look for a wide base, non-skid bottom and a crotch and waist safety belt.
- Don’t place your child in an infant seat on top of a counter or table.
- Never use an infant seat as a car seat.
- Infant Swings
- Never leave your child unattended in either an infant seat or and infant swing.
- Use a head support for infants.
- The two most common types of injuries from swings are entrapment of a child’s head when it gets caught between the edge of the backrest and the bars from which the seat hangs and falls, when the back of the seat collapses.
- Walkers are dangerous and have been responsible for many injuries. Use of these devices should be done under very careful supervision. If you have a walker with wheels, the wheels should be removed or discard the walker all together. New style walkers (standers) are designed to be stationary.
- A playpen can inhibit your child’s exploration and environmental stimulation so you don’t want to place your child in one all day.
- The sides should be high enough to contain an 18-month-old child (Approximately 20 inches).
- Never tie a toy across the top of the playpen, it is a strangulation hazard.
- Keep the railing secured tightly; a child can become entrapped in the pocket formed between the floor edge and the mesh siding and suffocate.
Be sure that your child cannot lower the side of the playpen.
- Always engage the stroller brakes when not in motion.
- Don’t use a stroller that doesn’t have a safety strap. Many injuries occur when children are not securely strapped in.
- Check for a wide sturdy base and a locking device to prevent accidental folding.
- Be sure that your child’s fingers are out of the way when folding or closing the stroller.
The Backyard Pool
- Fence your pool inside your yard, so it cannot be entered directly either from the house or the back yard. The fence should be at least four feet high, with spokes and slats not more than three inches apart. If you use chain link fencing, be sure the links are small enough so a child cannot climb on them. Be sure nothing blocks the view of the pool from the house.
- A water activated pool alarm may be necessary if the pool can be accessed directly from the house.
- Install a child resistant spring lock gate, self-closing and self-latching, with the latch at least 54 inches from the ground.
- Install textured concrete or other slip resistant material around the pool.
- Install a phone by the pool, so you won’t be tempted to leave your child even for a minute to answer a call.
- Don’t use glass of any kind by the pool.
- Use only battery operated radios and televisions by the pool.
- Common sense pool rules
- Each family should make their own set of inflexible pool rules and insist that everyone, child or adult, adhere by them.
- Never leave a child alone in a pool. In fact, don’t take your eyes off the child. Drowning can occur in a matter of seconds.
- Don’t drink alcohol while you are watching children.
- Ensure your child can demonstrate good head control before you take them into the pool.
- Don’t allow children under five in a spa or hot tub. Children are more sensitive to stress from high water temperatures.
- Don’t trust swimming lessons to protect your child. In a panic, even a good swimmer can forget what to do.
- No rough-housing or running by the pool.
- Don’t swim during thunderstorms.
- Never allow riding or wheeled toys of any kind in the pool area. These can easily be ridden into the water.
- Never let an infant or toddler play alone outside. Even a child in a safety harness or napping in a carriage needs to be watched almost constantly.
- Keep swimming or wading pools inaccessible to babies and toddlers. If you have a swimming pool keep it fenced in and keep the doors and windows to the pool area locked.
- Check the play area frequently, watching for broken sidewalks that need repair, loose boards on wooden steps, holes or ditches in the lawn that should be filled.
- Clean areas of all animal droppings.
- Watch for poisonous plants in the backyard and pull up mushrooms and toadstools as soon as they appear.
- Install childproof locks on gates and don’t leave anything near the gates that a child could climb on to.
- Keep a constant eye on a child that still puts things in their mouth, stones, twigs and dirt are as attractive as rattles and teethers.
- Make sure outdoor play equipment is safe and sturdily constructed. Place play equipment at least 6 feet away from fences and walls.
- Teach your child about dangers they may find in their play area. Create a vocabulary of warning words (Ouch, Hot, Sharp etc.).
- Keep your child out of the area altogether when the lawn is being mowed. Flying debris can seriously injure a small child.
- Don’t leave a hose lying in the sun. Water in it can get hot enough to scald a child.
- Keep children away from a grill at all times, especially when you are cooking on it.