Home may be where the heart is, but it can also be where the danger is. Each year, more than nine million children under the age of 19 experience injuries at home that require a trip to the emergency room. Many of these accidents are linked to products and new technologies that can be found around the home everyday. Usually these things don’t pose an obvious threat, but with the right set of circumstances, they can morph into a source of unexpected danger.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compiled a list of “hidden home hazards” that lurk beneath the surface of seemingly mundane household items. Let’s take a look at the dangers that they identified.
This first one really caught us off guard. According to the CPSC, the magnets found in popular children’s toys, building sets and jewelry can cause serious injuries and even death. The reason: Magnets can become detached from toys and children may end up swallowing them. If two or more magnets — or a magnet and a piece of metal — are ingested, they can attract one another through intestinal walls and get trapped in place. As a result, the child who swallowed them will be unable to naturally pass the material, and this can lead to holes, blockages, infection or even death.
Bottom Line: Look out for loose magnets, and keep toys with small parts away from children under the age of six.
2. RECALLED PRODUCTS
While the CPSC is very good about removing dangerous products from store shelves, there’s not much they can do about products that are already in the hands of children. And because only 10% of recalled kids products actually get returned to the manufacturer and fixed, a whopping 90% of the products that the government deems unsafe remain in kids’ hands.
Bottom Line: Be sure to sign up for email alerts from the CPSC on product recalls — it could save the life of a child that you love.
FACT: Thousands of kids are injured each year when they accidentally topple a household item onto themselves. Heavy furniture and appliances like TVs, bookcases and dressers may not seem inherently hazardous on their own, but when an active toddler chooses to use these things like a personal playground, disaster is sure to follow.
Bottom Line: First and foremost, make sure that your furniture is stable on its own. And for extra protection, anchor all heavy items to the wall or the floor.
4. WINDOWS & COVERINGS
The eyes to your home could be hiding a major hazard . Many window coverings have long cords that can form loops or otherwise get wrapped around a child’s neck, leading to severe injury or strangulation. Also, if you live in a two-story home or other dwelling that’s not at ground level, children are susceptible to falling out of windows.
Bottom Line: Repair pull cords ending in loops and install fall guards to prevent kids from falling out of windows.
5. POOLS & SPA DRAINS
While most water-related accidents involve children, the suction from a pool drain is actually powerful enough to hold an adult underwater. In most drain accidents, the body becomes sealed against the drain, or hair is pulled in and becomes tangled. Missing or broken drain covers are the leading cause of these incidents.
Bottom Line: Always inspect your pool or spa for entrapment hazards, especially near drainage areas.
While most of these hazards are unexpected, all are totally preventable with a little diligence. By putting these tips into practice you can help protect your home and family, so you can enjoy greater peace of mind. For more information on household safety hazards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.