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INFANCY: Safety and Injury Prevention

SECTIONS: Staying Healthy and Recognizing Early Signs of Illness ~ Prepare for Emergencies ~ Preventing Injuries ~ Preventing Burns ~ Water Safety ~ Preventing Falls ~ Preventing Choking ~ Car Safety ~ Poison Safety ~ Gun Safety

Mother buckling baby into car seat

Staying Healthy and Recognizing Early Signs of Illness

  • Hand washing is an important way to keep the whole family healthy.
  • Recognize early signs of illness (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, seizures, skin rashes, etc). Your baby's behavior might not seem quite right. List things that seem different and call your health care provider to discuss them.
  • A baby's temperature should be taken rectally for accuracy.
  • Keep home and car smoke free. Minimize your baby's exposure to all kinds of smoke, including second-hand cigarette smoke, everywhere.

Prepare for Emergencies

  • Install smoke detectors and make sure they work properly. Check the batteries regularly. Talk with your family about fire emergency evacuation plans.
  • Install a UL-certified carbon monoxide detector/alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home.
  • Complete an American Heart Association or American Red Cross First Aid or Infant CPR program. Learn what to do if your baby is choking.
  • Have a family first-aid kit.
  • Post a list of the local emergency telephone numbers by every telephone and program numbers into cell phones.
  • Have a family emergency plan. Your community may have a disaster readiness plan, too.

Preventing Injuries

  • Do not use baby walkers. They aren't necessary and cause accidents.
  • Make sure toys have no sharp edges, points, or small removable parts.
  • Safely store sharp things—scissors, pens, pins, razors, knives, and knitting needles.

Preventing Burns

  • Watch your child carefully near stoves, fireplaces, heaters, irons, and hair dryers.
  • Be careful of hot drinks when holding the baby.
  • Lower hot water temperature to below 120 degrees to avoid burns when washing or bathing the baby. Test water temperature with your wrist to make sure it is not too hot.
  • Do not expose your baby's sensitive skin to direct sunlight. If she has to be in the sun, use a sunscreen made for children. For babies younger than 6 months, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and backs of the hands, if adequate clothing and shade are not available.
  • Keep electrical cords out of your child's reach. Chewing on a live extension cord or a poorly insulated wire can cause mouth burns. Use electric outlet covers.

Water Safety

  • Watch your baby constantly whenever he is near water. Children can drown in even a few inches of water, including the bathtub, play pools, buckets, or toilets. A supervising adult should be close enough to touch young children whenever they are in or around water.

Preventing Falls

  • Don't leave your baby alone for even a second on high places. Always keep one hand on him on changing tables, couches, or beds to prevent falls.
  • Keep furniture away from windows and install window guards on second-story and higher windows. Use gates at the top and bottom of stairs.

Preventing Choking

  • Keep balloons, plastic bags, and small toys that the baby could swallow out of reach.
  • Keep telephone cords and cords from blinds or curtains out of reach.

Car Safety

  • Use an approved rear-facing safety seat all the time when transporting your baby in a vehicle. Make sure it is properly placed in the back seat and secured.
  • Do not start the engine until everyone is buckled in.
  • Babies with special needs, such as premature babies or babies in casts: Ask your health care provider about safe transportation resources.

Poison Safety

  • To prevent poisoning, keep household products such as cleaners, chemicals, and medicines locked up and out of your child's sight and reach. Keep the Poison Control Center number (800-222-1222) posted next to every phone.
  • Lead is toxic. To prevent exposure, be aware of any sources in your home: paint in homes built before 1978, pottery and pewter, insecticides, and hobby materials, etc. Consider whether anyone in your home works at a setting with lead where it might come home on clothes.

Gun Safety

  • The best way to keep your baby safe from injury or death from guns is to never have a gun in the home.
  • If it is necessary to keep a gun in your home or the homes of people you visit, it should be stored unloaded and locked, with the ammunition locked separately from the gun.