Our homes are our safe spot, our comfortable place. It's easy to have a false sense of security at home and there may be lurking dangers for your little ones that you are unaware of. It's always a good idea to make sure your house is safe for your little ones. As a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP), I am not only responsible for caring for children when they are sick, but I am also responsible for promoting the health of children and preventing disease. This includes the prevention of injury as well. This month, I'd like to focus my attention on safety in the home as there have been two, recent, local events of children who experienced preventable accidents while at home.
You may have seen in the news recently a pair of twins who caught national attention after a dresser fell and pinned one of them underneath it (see here). It's a terrifying video for any parent or anyone, for that matter, to watch. Thankfully, neither child was hurt and this brave family has shared their story in order to spread awareness of the dangers of not anchoring unstable furniture. They are especially near and dear to our hearts at ABC Pediatrics because they are our patients (Don't worry, I've received special permission from their mother to share this). It is extremely important to test stability of large furniture pieces: this includes television stands, bookshelves, standing lamps, and dressers. Can they easily tip over if pushed, pulled, or if drawers are opened and climbed on? If so, then they should be anchored to the wall with something like this (see here). Even though I give this advice on a weekly basis, until I saw this story, I had yet to get the dresser and bookshelves in my own two-year-old son's room anchored to the wall. I was aghast to see how easily the dresser tipped over with all the drawers open prior to anchoring. So, thank you Shoff family for the friendly reminder.
The next news story, sadly, ended tragically, but it highlights the hidden danger of window-blind cords. This past November, the three-year-old daughter of Reno Mahe, former NFL Eagles player and current running back coach at Brigham Young University, died a week after injuries she sustained from getting tangled in a window-blind cord while at home. Unfortunately, she's not the first child that has died from a window-blind cord strangulation. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that approximately one child dies each month from window cord strangulation (see here). It is recommended that cordless blinds be used in the home if possible. If those are too cost prohibitive, thoroughly examining all blinds in the home is an absolute must. Be sure to attach the cords for window blinds to wall brackets to keep them well out of reach of children. Any window blind cords with loops should be cut and safety tassels attached as children can be strangled by them if left loose.
Anchoring furniture and examining cord blinds are just two home safety items as part of a whole house survey that should be visited every 6 months according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP provides a handy check-list that you can take with you and check-off as you go through your house looking for hidden dangers. We provide it as part of our 12-month well-child check packet on our website (see here). It really is amazing how children can turn a seemingly innocent item into something profoundly dangerous. Please make sure to examine your house and do it often. Remember, as your children grow, what once wasn't within their reach, becomes available to them. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us at ABC Pediatrics.
Information presented adapted from:
American Academy of Pediatrics. “Home Safety: Here's How”
Cable News Network. “3-year-old Dies After Tragic Window Cord Blind Accident”
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Kids and Cords Don't Mix”
Mary-Faith Fuller, CPNP
I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has worked at ABC Pediatrics since January 2014.