Before children are old enough to go to school, they spend the majority of their time in and around their homes. Homes are the place in which young children most often suffer an injury. Injuries may occur due to structures in the home, such as stairs; products found in the home, such as toys with small parts or chemicals; and situations in the home, such as access to boiling water or unsafe sleeping environments. Young children rely upon parents and caregivers to provide for them, including food, shelter, comfort, play and a safe place in which to grow, learn and experience in. A safe home requires parents and caregivers to investigate their homes for risks as well as provide adequate supervision of children.

Choking, Drowning, Suffocation and Strangulation

Suffocation, choking and strangulation are leading causes of injury to children and youth. Children who survive these injuries are at risk for brain damage due to an extended period of time where their brain was not supplied with oxygen. The effects of such a traumatic brain injury are life-long and devastating.

Children’s breathing can be threatened in a number of ways such as choking on food, suffocation in cribs or beds, or strangulation on ropes and cords. Almost half of all child hospitalizations in Canada for choking, suffocation and strangulation are from choking on food.

Drowning is the leading cause of death and the second leading cause of hospitalization due to injury in Saskatchewan infants. Children are attracted to water but are not capable of understanding the dangers associated with water. Children can drown in less than 5 cm (2 in.) of water. Children drown silently and quickly.

Prevention
Simple safety measures can be taken to ensure that a child does not experience a threatened breathing incident resulting in injury or death. Your child should be actively supervised at all times. Other actions to reduce the risk of an injury due to choking, drowning, suffocation, and strangulation are listed below.

Choking

Children under three years of age and children who still have a tendency to put non-food items in their mouths are at an increased risk of choking on foods and other small objects.

  • Mash, grate, or chop into small pieces foods such as bananas, cucumbers, cheese, carrots, and round or ‘plug-shaped’ food such as grapes and hot dogs. To make hard foods, such as carrots and broccoli, softer you can steam or boil them. Keep hard foods such as candy, gum, popcorn with kernels, and nuts away from small children.
  • Items such as small toys, keys, and coins can become stuck in a child’s airway and cause choking. To check if a toy is too small for a young child, see if it will fit in the middle of a toilet paper roll. Any item that fits inside a toilet paper roll is a choking hazard for young children.
Links
Videos
  • How to Prevent Choking Video by CIRP – YouTube (2010)
  • Choking Prevention Information Video by CIRP – YouTube (2010)

Drowning

Active supervision of your child at all times when she is in or near water is very important. Other important safety behaviours to reduce the risk of a drowning incident are listed below.

  • Avoid the use of a bath seat or a bath ring. Bath seats and rings have been attributed to a number of drowning incidents in infants and young children and their use is not recommended.
  • Never leave an infant or young child in the care of an older child when in or near water, including paddling pools and in the bathroom.
  • Put an eye and hook lock on the outside of the bathroom door, up high and out of reach of young children, to keep them out of the bathroom without adult supervision. Drain water out of sinks and bathtubs immediately after they are used and install locks on toilet seat lids.
  • Paddling pools must always be supervised. Completely empty and turn upside down any paddling pool that is not being actively supervised by an adult.
  • Ensure all backyard pools have fencing on all four sides that is at least four feet high and cannot be accessed by children. Teach children not to go in or near the pool without an adult.
  • Enroll your children in swimming lessons.
Link

For more information on poisoning prevention, please visit the link below.

Suffocation

Active supervision of your child at all times when she is in or near water is very important. Other important safety behaviours to reduce the risk of a drowning incident are listed below.

  • Always place your baby on her back to sleep in a crib. Once your baby has developed the ability to roll over by herself you do not need to reposition her if she rolls, but should continue to place her on her back to sleep.
  • Keep objects such as stuffed animals, quilts, pillows, and bumper pads out of your baby’s crib. These objects can suffocate your child if they cover his face or mouth.
  • Keep plastic bags, plastic wrap, and latex balloons out of reach of your child.
For more safe sleeping practices, please visit Safe Sleeping and SIDS.
Links
Video
  • Did You Know? Health Canada – YouTube (2010)

Strangulation

  • Blind and curtain cords can strangle a child if he becomes tangled in the cord. Tie curtain and blind cords out of reach of children by using a safety device, clothes pin, hook, or nail. Cut the bottom loop out of curtain and blind cords.
  • Keep cribs, beds, tables, couches, and chairs away from windows with curtain and blind cords.
Links
Video
  • Window Covering Cord Safety Demonstration – Out of Reach, Health Canada – YouTube (2010)

Links

Consumer Products Safety, Health Canada
Videos
  • Choking Prevention Information Video by CIRP (2010)
  • Did You Know? – Health Canada (2010)
  • How to Prevent Choking Video by CIRP (2010)
  • Window Covering Cord Safety Demonstration – Out of Reach – Health Canada (2010)

Falls

Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization due to injury in children and youth in Saskatchewan. Falls on stairs, off playground equipment, off of furniture including beds, change tables and high chairs, falls from a parent or caregiver’s arms, and many other falls make up these injuries.

Falls happen in a quick instant and many occur at a time when a child is developing a new skill, such as when a child learns to roll, crawl, go up or down stairs or climb. Parents and caregivers must anticipate their child’s new skill development and remember that nothing replaces constant supervision of a young child.

Fall Prevention

Simple safety measures can be taken to ensure a child does not suffer an injury due to a fall. Safety measures are dependent on a child’s skill, developmental stage, age, and risk-taking behaviour. Adults should participate in active supervision of young children at all times. Other actions to reduce the risk of an injury due to a fall are listed below.

  • When your child can push onto his hands and knees (at about 6 months of age), move his crib mattress to the lowest position.
  • Move your child out of his crib when he is 90 cm (35 in) tall. This is typically around 2 years of age and is the time when your child will develop the ability to climb out of his crib. Move your child to a bed that is low to the ground to prevent fall-related injuries.
  • Put safety gates at the top and bottom of all stairs in your home. Use wall-mounted safety gates and ensure they are securely fastened to the wall. Remove safety gates when your child’s chin is at the top of the safety gate or when she is 2 years of age. This is when your child will begin to develop the ability to climb the gate, increasing her risk of a serious injury if she falls over the gate and onto the stairs. Teach your child how to go up and down the stairs and make sure you are always with her when she is on the stairs.
  • Always use available safety straps on high chairs and strollers.
  • Secure heavy furniture, such as dressers, book shelves, and TV stands so that if your child pulls himself up on the furniture to stand or tries to climb the furniture, it cannot fall on him.
  • Supervise your child on playground equipment. Be within an arm’s reach of children under 5 years of age when they are at heights or climbing.

Links

Consumer Products Safety, Health Canada
Statistics
  • The number of hospital cases due to trampoline related injuries is increasing on an average of 15.4% annually, based on cases between 1990 and 2007. (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2009)
  • Between 1999 and 2003, 2,669 children aged 1 to 19 were injured due to private, at-home trampoline use, 260 children of these children suffered face or head injuries and an additional 19 children suffered spinal cord injuries. (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2006)
References
  • Public Health Agency of Canada, Injury and Child Maltreatment Section, Health Surveillance and Epidemiology Division. Child and youth injury in review, 2009 Edition – Spotlight on Consumer Product Safety. 2009. Available from www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
  • Public Health Agency of Canada, Injury and Child Maltreatment Section, Health Surveillance and Epidemiology Division. Injuries associated with backyard trampolines. 2006. The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) database, All ages, 1990-2003. Update 2004-2006. Available from www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

Farm Safety

Links
Videos
  • PTO Dress Up – 4-H Ontario Farm Safety PSA (2010)
  • Tired Hands – 4-H Ontario Farm Safety PSA (2010)
  • The Extra Rider – 4-H Ontario Farm Safety PSA (2010)

Fire, Flames, Burns, and Scalds

Injuries from burns and scalds are responsible for the longest hospital stays out of all injury hospitalizations. Burns and scalds require long and extensive medical care, are very painful and may leave permanent scarring and a loss of function. These injuries can be a result of fire or flame from candles, lighters, barbeques or fireplaces, hot appliances such as kettles, toasters or curling irons, and hot liquids such as a bottle of milk, bath water, or a hot beverage such as tea.

Burn and Scald Prevention

Simple safety measures can be taken to ensure a child does not suffer an injury due to a burn or scald. Participate in active supervision of your child at all times. Other actions to reduce the risk of an injury due to a burn or scald include:

  • Lower the temperature of your hot water heater to 49°C. A young child’s skin is much more sensitive than adults and will burn much more quickly.
  • Replace tablecloths with place mats, or use clips to secure a table cloth in place. If a child pulls on the tablecloth to help them stand or walk, they can pull hot dishes, appliances and liquids onto themselves.
  • Cover all electrical outlets with child-resistant covers. Keep electrical cords for hot appliances such as toasters, kettles, curling or straightening irons and slow cookers out of reach of children.
  • Keep all lighters and matches locked in a cupboard out of sight and reach of children. Never burn candles unattended by an adult.
  • Choose snug-fitting sleepwear for infants and toddlers. Loose and baggy sleepwear will catch fire more easily.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home. Test them monthly and replace batteries every six months.
For more information on burn and scald prevention in your home, please visit the: 3 Minute Drill – Government of Alberta (2011)

Sun Safety

It is important for children to explore the natural world and play in the fresh air; however, special caution must be taken to protect children from harmful sun exposure. Always use sunscreen and reapply it often. Do not apply sunscreen to babies under six months of age. Use long sleeves, long pants, and hats made of light material to protect children from the sun. Look for places with lots of shade, such as parks with large trees or take an umbrella to the beach. Always keep your baby in the shade.

Links

Home Safety for Children with Special Needs

Children are naturally curious and learn by hearing, touching, and tasting the things around them. Children however, do not understand that they can be seriously injured by some things in their environment, such as touching a hot stove burner or tasting the cleaning agent that looks and smells like orange juice. Creating a safe home environment is important to ensure children can explore and experience the world around them without risk of injury. Children with special needs are at an increased risk of home injuries including falls, burns, poisoning, and choking and may require additional safety precautions due to their physical or cognitive abilities. Creating a safe environment for a child with special needs is an important step to ensuring that child’s continued well-being.

Follow the links below to view videos that have been produced by ‘Safe Kids USA’. These videos outline important home safety for families and in particular for families with children with special needs.

Overview of Video Series
  • Video Series for Families of Children with Special Needs About Safety in the Home – Series Overview (2010)
  • Choking Prevention for Families with Children with Special Needs (2010)
  • Falls Prevention for Families with Children with Special Needs (2010)
  • Burn Prevention for Families with Children with Special Needs (2010)

    Note: Temperature of water in this video is described in Fahrenheit; 120o Fahrenheit is 49o Celsius.

  • Fire Safety for All Families (2010)
  • Fire Safety for Families with Children with Cognitive Impairments – Meet the Jones Family (2010)
  • Fire Safety for Families Who are Visually or Hearing Impaired – Meet the Davis Family (2010)
  • Fire Safety for Families Who are Immobile – Meet the Gomez Family (2010)
  • Water Safety for Families with Children with Special Needs

Poisoning

Children come into closer contact with their environment than adults by crawling on the floor, picking things up to touch and by tasting things. Children often explore the world around them by putting things in their mouth. Children are more sensitive than adults to harmful substances and many everyday items that are found in our homes are dangerous to children in even very small doses. Poisoning is a leading cause of hospitalization for Saskatchewan children, particularly between the ages of 1 and 4.

Medication is the leading cause of poisoning for children in Canada. Many other common sources of poisoning for children include fertilizers; pesticides; cleaning products; vitamins; cosmetics such as make-up, hair products and nail polish remover; alcohol; and tobacco.

Poisoning Prevention

Simple safety measures can be taken to ensure a child does not suffer an injury due to poisoning. Keep all dangerous substances out of sight and reach of your child in a locked cupboard. Participate in active supervision of your child at all times. Other actions to reduce the risk of an injury due to poisoning include:

  • Keep chemicals, cleaning products, medications and vitamins in their original container with original labels. Do not re-use chemical containers and follow directions on container for proper disposal.
  • Do not mix household cleaners as they may produce toxic fumes.
  • Teach your older children to recognize warning labels on products and what they mean.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of your home and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Test monthly and replace the batteries every six months.
  • Keep the number of the Saskatchewan Poison Centre (1-866-454-1212) by all phones and contact them if your child swallows or comes in contact with anything poisonous or you suspect your child has swallowed or come in contact with anything poisonous.
Links
Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and the Health and Safety Risks for Children

4-301: E-Cigarettes Fact Sheet

  • American Academy of Pedaitrics: Julius B. Richmond Centre of Excellence. E-Cigarettes: A Threat to Health. Retrieved from www2.aap.org
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. (2015, March 6). E-cigarettes: Are we renormalizing public smoking? Reversing five decades of tobacco control and revitalizing nicotine dependency in children and youth in Canada. Retrieved from www.cps.ca
  • Children’s Safety Network. (2015, July). E-Cigarette Poisoning. Retrieved from www.childrenssafetynetwork.org
  • Czogala, J., Goniewicz, M.L., Fidelus, B., Zielinska-Danch, W., Travers, M.J., & Sobczak, A. (2014). Exposure to Vapors From Electronic Cigarettes. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 16, 655-662. Retrieved from www.ntr.oxfordjournals.org
  • Durmowicz, E.L. (2015). The impact of electronic cigarettes on the paediatric population. Tobacco Control, 23, ii41-ii46. Retrieved from www.tobaccocontrol.bmj.com
  • Interior Health Authority: Community Integrated Health Services Tobacco Reduction. (2013, September 10). Electronic Cigarettes: Do they Belong in Schools? Retrieved from www.rms.sd23.bc.ca
  • Non-Smokers’ Rights Association / Smoking and Health Action Foundation. (2015, December). E-cigarettes: Where we are in 2015. Retrieved from www.nsra-adnf.ca
  • Propel Centre for Population Health Impact. (2015 Edition). Tobacco Use in Canada: Patterns and Trends. Special Supplement: E-cigarettes in Canada. Retrieved from www.tobaccoreport.ca
  • Reed, J.L., Gervais, A.A., & Reid, R.D. (2013). Five Things to Know About…Electronic Cigarettes. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 185, 1427. Retrieved from www.cmaj.ca
  • Saskatoon Health Region. (2014). E-Cigarettes (Electronic Cigarettes). Retrieved from www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca
  • The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association. E-Cigarette Fact Sheet. Retrieved from www.dentalhygienecanada.ca
  • The Ontario Lung Association. (2015, April). Position Statement: Electronic Cigarettes. Retrieved from www.on.lung.ca
  • Toronto Public Health. (2014, August 1). Position Statement: Electronic Cigarettes. Retrieved from www.toronto.ca

Resources