For military families, frequent deployments and moves can make it challenging to stay on top of home safety. Places where your kids spend a lot of time, like their bedroom or playroom, can contain hazards that are easy to miss at first glance. The most common home hazards that can cause children’s injury or death include:
- Medications and vitamins
- Water in bathtubs
- Unsafe sleeping environments
- Unsecured weapons
- Climbing hazards (like unsecured bookcases or open windows)
- Hot stoves
Protect your child from these and other dangers with this Steps to Home Safety checklist. The information below can also help you eliminate home hazards and keep your military kids safe and sound.
Call 800-342-9647 to get more information from Military OneSource on child safety and reducing home hazards.
Did you know?
- Almost 9 million children are treated for unintentional injuries in hospital emergency departments each year.
- Every day, 20 children in the U.S. are hospitalized for gun-related injuries.
- More than 75 percent of injury-related deaths among children younger than 1 year old are due to suffocation.
- Most poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home but are not paying attention.
You can help prevent neglectful situations by reporting military children in hazardous situations to the Family Advocacy Program.
Crib comforts: What's safe, what's not
Below are some general guidelines for creating a safe sleeping environment for infants. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Safe to Sleep campaign website has more information.
- Stuffed animals and pillows. Having these items in the crib can cause suffocation because infants are too young to change positions easily if their airway becomes blocked. Keep cribs free of all pillows, stuffed animals, and the like.
- Blankets and other soft bedding. Accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed is one of the primary causes of sudden infant death. If you live in a cold climate and a blanket is a must, talk to your pediatrician about the safest way to swaddle your infant and whether sleepers, sleep sacks, and wearable blankets are safer alternatives.
- Pacifiers. It’s OK to give your baby a pacifier, but buy one made of a solid piece of molded plastic, with a shield that is at least 1.5 inches across and has ventilation holes. Never tie the pacifier to the crib, and replace the pacifier as soon as it begins to deteriorate.
- Loose, dangling, or sharp objects. Check all toys, stuffed animals, and blankets often, as they become worn over time. Buttons grow loose and ribbons fray, becoming choking and strangling hazards.
How can I keep my home safe for my kids as they grow?
Risk factors for your military children change as they get older, grow out of cribs, and start moving around a lot more! The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children website is a great resource to help military parents childproof based on children’s’ ages.
You can get started now by going room by room inside your home — and looking outside too — to find what your child can touch, reach, and get into. Get down on the floor to take a look from their height so you don’t miss things your children can see or reach.
Download the Steps to Home Safety checklist of preventive steps to take in each room of your home. Keep in mind when using the list that children of different ages may require more safety measures.
Is my yard safe for my kids?
For keeping children safe, what's outside your home is just as important as what's inside. Some examples of outdoor hazards are driveways, rodent traps, plant pesticides, garden tools, and lawn mowers.
Here are some tips for protecting your military kids:
- Keep toys away from the driveway, and use tape, a fence, or other markings to mark off safe areas for children to play.
- If your lawn has been treated with fertilizers or other chemicals, keep your children off it for 48 hours.
- Return tools and equipment to childproof locations immediately after use.
- Make sure backyard areas are well-lit.
What if my kids know to stay away from home hazards?
Remember that there are other safety considerations for parenting older children — and that just because they seem self-sufficient, that doesn’t mean all risk is eliminated. For example, states and installations have child supervision guidelines on the appropriate ages to leave children alone. Learn the guidelines in your area.