A shocking viral video of an unsecured piece of furniture falling on a little boy recently got more than 7 million views and counting on YouTube. The video is a reminder of what many parents learn the hard way: that many common items in the household can be very dangerous to a child. What’s more difficult is that these items may not appear all that hazardous.
Childproofing can be such an endeavor that it feels like a full-time job. The best way to start is for parents to take on the role of being a curious, small toddler who likes to climb and put everything into their mouth. Crawling around on the floor and identifying items that could be knocked over, cause strangulation, result in drowning, or potentially cause poisoning can go a long way in keeping a child safe.
From bathtubs to hair dryers to trash cans, some items parents use every day without another thought can actually present major hazards inside the home.
Beyond protecting a child against dangerous items in the home, parents must remain highly vigilant in watching their children. This includes refraining from using the phone, leaving the room, or otherwise supervising their children while distracted. It only takes a matter of seconds for a child to seriously injure themselves on common household items.
By identifying particularly dangerous items and childproofing whenever possible, parents can ideally help their children stay as injury-free inside the home. If a parent needs extra assistance regarding childproofing in the home, many hospitals and pediatrics offices may be able to refer parents to a childproofing specialist to ensure their home is as safe as possible.
13 Unsecured Bookcases
Bookcases are an example of the top-heavy furniture that many people often have in their home that can be dangerous to children. The same is true for shelving and other heavy furniture that is prone to falling, much like the viral video example.
The first step to keeping these from toppling when your little one starts to climb is to purchase brackets and anchors that can help to tether the furniture to the walls. In addition to this protective step, always stack heavy items on the lower portions of shelves or drawers. This reduces the likelihood that a bookcase will topple should a child start to climb on it.
Another important factor to remember is that even if parents have placed latches on bookshelf or other cabinet doors, children can still be prone to climbing on these items. They don’t replace furniture anchors in childproofing a home.
12 Laundry Pods
Parents of an estimated 22,000 children in the United States called the National Capital Poison Center in 2014 due to accidental consumption of laundry pods, according to CNN.com. Detergent manufacturers created these small packs of dishwasher or laundry powder as an alternative to messy powders or soaps.
Unfortunately, to kids these colorful pods may resemble candy or a toy. Children under age 3 are particularly susceptible and responsible for the most poisoning-related phone calls.
Since the increase of these harmful incidents, detergent manufacturers have started making laundry pod containers more difficult for children to open. They’ve also launched nationwide public safety awareness campaigns to ensure parents know to keep laundry pods out of the reach of children. The containers should be stored where they aren’t easily visible, like a locked cabinet.
However, researchers recommend parents of children under age 6 don’t keep laundry pods in their home.
11 Unsecure Toilet Lids
While pools are a known common drowning hazard, many parents are surprised to learn that water sources like toilets are also a drowning risk. An estimated 115 children die annually from drowning in containers of water such as buckets, toilets, bathtubs, and hot tubs, according to MedicineNet.
The most common ages of child victims are children under 3. These children likely try to put their head in the toilet and end up falling headfirst.
There are several things a parent can do to keep a child safe in bathrooms and around toilets. There are plastic safety covers or childproof clips for toilets that can prevent a child from falling in. Parents also may wish to install a latch high up on the bathroom door so they can latch it from the outside when not in the bathroom.
This prevents children from getting into the bathroom while parents are unaware (a child can easily slip out of a parents’ gaze in an instant).
10 Recently Used Hairdryers
Hairdryers can be a danger to children on many levels. First, many of them can blow to very high heats, which can burn a child’s sensitive skin. Also, they are an electrocution risk as a child can easily drop a hair dryer in a bathtub, sink, toilet, or other pool of water in the bathroom.
Also, pulling a hairdryer out of a wall outlet increases the risk that a child can put their fingers in an unprotected outlet.
Parents should always keep electrical items like hair dryers and hot rollers in a drawer that’s too high for a child to reach and, ideally, a drawer that is closed with a childproof lock, clip, etc. When not in use, always keep hairdryers off countertops.
While it’s also a valuable lesson to teach children not to grab at items with long electrical cords, ultimately very small children don’t have the judgment skills not to be tempted by pulling one of these items down and potentially burning themselves.
9 Outlets With Plugs And Without
Outlets are like a magnet, attracting children to these dangerous and potential sources of electrocution. Sadly, an estimated 100 children die due to electrocution from wall outlets. Exposed outlets should be covered with either plastic cap plugs or screw-on covers. However, it’s not just the exposed outlets that can be dangerous.
When the electrical cords are plugged into an outlet, they are an easy way for toddlers to trip. Also, slightly older children can pull out the electrical wires from the outlets as well.
While parents can’t unplug every lamp and electrical device in the home, it’s important they are aware of the potential hazards that electrical outlets can pose. Also, they should try to hire loose electrical wires whenever possible. They shouldn’t be underneath carpeting, but should be behind furniture.
If the wires are underneath carpeting, the uneven surface can contribute to tripping.
8 Unlocked Dishwashers
While the closed door of a dishwasher may look like a safe bet for a little one, it’s what’s inside that can be dangerous for a child. For example, there are often knives and forks that are sharply pointing upward that a child can easily remove and cut themselves on. Also, if parents put dishwasher detergent in the dishwasher long before running it, kids can easily access the detergent.
This can be a potential poisoning source, unfortunately resulting in burns to the mouth and esophagus. After using the dishwasher, parents should be certain to wipe out any remaining detergent from the dispenser between each cycle.
Just as most cabinets should be latched, latches are available to keep the dishwasher closed and free from small prying hands. After pouring laundry detergent into the dispenser, the cap should be replaced tightly and also stored well out of reach of children.
7 A Bathtub Full Of Water
In an interview with LiveScience, Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, identified bathtubs as the most dangerous item in a person’s home. After drownings in pools, bathtubs are the most common source of drowning for children.
From 2005 to 2009, an estimated 660 bathtub submersion accidents occurred with 431 estimated fatalities. An estimated 92 percent of drowning incidents took place in the home. According to Davis, parents should “Never leave a young child alone near any water or bathtub or basin filled with water. Young children can drown in just a few inches of water.”
Regardless of the circumstances, parents should never leave a child unattended in the bathtub. Even if a child is in a child seat or ring and may seem secure, these seats can actually make the bathtub even more dangerous because it gives a false sense of security.
6 Trash Cans
Trash cans can easily be tipped or turned over, releasing the contents of the trash can. There are a number of hazardous items that can be found in a trash can. Examples include spoiled food, sharp objects, batteries, and other potentially hazardous items. Trash cans should have a child-resistant cover or be kept out of a child’s reach.
Examples could include putting the trash can in a closet or other latched area.
A similar principle is true for purses and bags. Children love to reach into these items to pull out hazardous materials such as cosmetics and medications. These also shouldn’t be left unattended where a child can easily get into these items, which could be a potential choking hazard.
5 Nickel Sized Kitchen Magnets
Refrigerator magnets are colorful and attractive to children – unfortunately, they also present a significant choking hazard. Their often-small size and ease of removing from the refrigerator can make it easy for small children to take off the magnets from the refrigerator and put them in their mouths.
An easy way to tell if a magnet could present a choking hazard is to save the inner cardboard portion of a toilet paper tube. This closely resembles a young child’s windpipe. If the magnet can fit into the toilet paper tube – or comes close – then it is hazardous.
Some safety solutions could be to place magnets higher on the refrigerator out of reach of children. Using larger magnets can also be safer, but children can also find new and interesting ways to injure themselves even on larger magnets that may not cause choking.
4 Sharp Corners Of Picture Frames
Picture frames are a fun way to celebrate and commemorate life’s moments, especially for a family. However, they can be very dangerous to little ones. Frames can be easily knocked over, and the protective glass can shatter. Children can cut themselves very seriously on this glass as well.
This doesn’t mean that parents have to completely forgo their treasured memories. Instead, they can swap the protective class for a clear plastic, which is usually available for purchase at most crafts and home goods stores. Another option would be to mount the picture frames on the wall, well out of reach of children.
Another decorative item that often goes along with pictures frames is a candle. Candles that are made of glass and can easily break, presenting an injury hazard. Also, some children find ways to eat the candle. This can present a choking hazard as well.
3 Glass Coffee Tables
Sharp edges of any table can be dangerous for a child because a toddler who’s just learning how to walk can easily cut themselves on the forehead or eye. However, all-glass coffee tables can be especially dangerous in a home. This is because some furniture is made with non-tempered glass, which is easily shattered should a child accidentally knock the glass off its base.
Parents should examine the coffee table to see if the glass type is labeled. They can also contact the table’s manufacturer to determine if the glass is made from non-tempered material. If it is, replacing the glass with a non-tempered top can be the start of protecting a child.
Also, purchasing edge guards, which clip or glue onto the edges of a table to protect a child when he or she inevitably bumps into it.
2 Loose Plastic Bags
Plastic baggies are a popular household item for parents because they are perfect for packing lunches. However, plastic baggies can be very hazardous for children. Plastic bags present a choking hazard for babies. For example, if an infant were to fall asleep near a bag and roll over on the bag, they could cause choking.
If the plastic bag is larger, such as a shopping bag, a child can easily get tangled in this bag type as well. Older children will open the baggies and attempt to put them on their heads, which can result in suffocation. Other dangerous bag types include garbage bags.
To protect children, parents should keep plastic bags, such as garbage bags, sandwich baggies, or plastic dry cleaning bags, out of the reach of children. They should be in a child-proof cabinet and shouldn’t be left casually out where a child could easily access it.
1 Unclean Humidifiers
Humidifiers are commonly used to help treat little one’s sneezes and sniffles. However, humidifiers can be dangerous to children in a home in many ways. If the humidifier is not properly cleaned, the humidifier can harbor all sorts of unwanted items, including mold spores, bacteria, and fungus. The humidifier should be cleaned and fully dried regularly.
Most manufacturers will have cleaning recommendations for their specific humidifier.
In addition to potential illness-causing hazards, humidifiers can also be harmful if they are humidifiers that release warm air instead of cold air. Warm humidifiers can present a burn risk to children if a child where to knock over the humidifier.
Ultrasonic humidifiers can release a white dust that can be difficult to detect, yet very dangerous to a child’s small airways. To prevent the humidifier from releasing this dust, use distilled water instead of tap water and clean the humidifier on a daily basis.