Falls and falling objects are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children under 15, and lead to a significant number of deaths as well. About 2.8 million children go to the emergency room each year because of falls. Fall hazards are particularly acute for babies under 1 year of age, causing more than half of all the injuries they suffer.
Eliminating fall hazards in your home
- Keep the stairwells clear of debris. Don’t use them as a staging area for items you’re taking up and down the stairs.
- Keep furniture away from windows whenever possible, especially those on the second story. Children have a tendency to climb on the furniture and then fall through the windows. Falls from windows injure around 4,000 kids each year.
- Be sure to install safety gates on stairs if you have any children two or younger.
Preventing falls in the home
- Whenever possible, open windows from the top as opposed to the bottom, so that children are less likely to fall through. We would also recommend installing window guards or stops that keep windows from opening more than 4 inches.
- Watch out for Fido! The CDC estimates that 86,000 people are injured every year in falls caused by a pet. Dogs are the primary culprit. Pet toys and food bowls can also pose a tripping hazard.
- To avoid more serious injuries from falls, don’t let children run with things in their hand unless it’s a ball. Injuries such as a pencil through the eye socket or a 2-year-old who was impaled through the mouth with a coat hanger are examples of what can happen when children run with objects in their hand.
- Do not set infant seats or baby carriers on tables or countertops, since they can be knocked off and cause a serious injury.
- Don’t seat your child in a baby walker in any area of the house that has steps up or down, including a single step. These seemingly minor drop-offs can tip a child over, leading them to fall directly on their head and causing a not-so-minor injury. They could also tip over and suffocate.