Constant adult supervision, informed product selection, and modifications to the home can help reduce the likelihood of childhood falls and related injuries. The following are tips from the CDC and the National Safety Council:
- Never leave babies alone on any furniture--beds, tables, sofas, cribs with the guardrails down, or changing tables--even if they have never rolled over.
- Choose baby products that meet required safety standards. Utilize all safety straps and features. Look for special safety features on high chairs, cribs, and other equipment.
- Install padding on sharp corners.
- Install window guards on all windows above the first floor.
- If you must open windows for ventilation, make sure your child cannot reach the open window.
- Set rules with your child about playing near windows.
- Remove furniture near windows that children can climb on.
- Do not rely on insect screens to keep children from falling out of windows.
- Remove clutter from floor and stairs.
- Use safety gates to prevent infants and toddlers from falling down stairs. Do not use accordion gates with large openings, because children can get trapped.
- Modify slippery surfaces and remove hazards on floors wherever possible.
- Secure area rugs with foam carpet backing, double-sided tape, or a rubber pad.
- Adults should always supervise children during trips to the playground. Young children, and even older ones, often do not have the proper judgment to identify unsafe situations that proper supervision can help prevent. In case there are injuries, an adult should be on hand to administer first-aid immediately.
- Make sure playground equipment is age-appropriate. Most equipment manufactured today is made for two age groups: children from 2 to 5 years old, and children from 5 to 12 years old. Since 1994, manufacturers are required to have a sticker placed on each piece of equipment indicating the age group it is designed for. Looking for this sticker can help you judge whether it is age-appropriate for your child.
- Play areas for younger children should be separate from those of older children. To reduce the risk of injury, children under the age of 5 should not play on equipment taller than four feet. Equipment for 5 to 12-year-olds should not be taller than eight feet.
- Surfaces under playground equipment should be soft enough to absorb falls. Recommended surfaces include wood chips or mulch, sand, pea gravel, rubber, and rubber-like materials that are maintained at a depth of 12 inches. Other safe alternatives include rubber mats, synthetic turf, or other artificial materials. Concrete, grass, blacktop, and packed surfaces are considered unsafe.
- Surface materials should cover "fall zones" surrounding equipment. This usually requires a minimum of six feet in all directions from the equipment.
- Playground equipment should be adequately spaced apart from one another to prevent overcrowding.
- Swings, seesaws, and other equipment with moving parts should be located in areas that are separate from the rest of the playground in order to prevent children from having to cross directly in front of or behind swings to reach them.
- Make sure equipment has been specifically designed for playground use.
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