Your home is filled with many hidden dangers that are easily overlooked, and many of your daily activities can contain hazards you never imagined. This section is filled with some often overlooked child safety risks in your home, along with some odds and ends safety concerns that do not warrant a full page, but are still worth mentioning.
The Hidden Home Dangers
Super glue safety
Remember that time your child got into the shaving cream or your makeup pouch, and before they were through, wound up wearing the item over every square inch of their body? Now imagine they have a tube of superglue in their hands. Needless to say, you’ll want to ensure this never happens.
Child safety while changing batteries
Changing batteries around children can be dangerous because of the potential for corrosive battery acid to fall into their eyes. One mother was changing the batteries of a light-up Mickey Mouse toy for her 3-year-old son. She unscrewed the case as her child stood underneath, looking up at her and watching intently. As she unscrewed the compartment, some powder from the corroded batteries fell into his eyes, and he started screaming. (Oct. 2010 Parents) Luckily, this time there was no permanent damage.
Child safety while changing light bulbs
The same goes for light bulbs. Newer fluorescent bulbs contain toxic chemicals such as mercury, and the longer, commercial ones can literally break with explosive force if bumped or mishandled, spraying shards of glass and chemicals everywhere. Parents also commonly drop everyday items, such as screwdrivers or the bulb itself while changing a light bulb, injuring children in the process. This is a common cause of serious eye injuries among kids. So whenever you’re changing a light bulb, have children stay a safe distance away and never let them directly underneath you.
Toasters and Toaster Ovens
In addition to the potential fire hazard, children sometimes stick their hands inside a toaster and get them caught, which is not good if they also happened to push down on that alluring lever before sticking their hand inside. Kids may enjoy pushing the lever up and down, and this can pose a fire risk if something falls (or more commonly, your child decides to put something) inside. Always keep toasters unplugged when not in use.
Home exercise equipment
Around 25,000 children find themselves in the ER each year due to injuries from home exercise equipment. Treadmills are one of the most common culprits. In addition to the obvious hazards, the cords on exercise equipment are a common source of strangulation for children. Keep your gear in a locked cabinet or room and make sure it is unplugged when not in use. Try to treat exercise equipment almost like you would a pool, and make sure it is inaccessible to children.
In addition to the burn danger a hot iron can pose, many children are injured when this heavy chunk of metal sitting atop a high, often wobbly temporary table falls and clunks them on the head. It’s a good idea not to leave irons out where a child could bump them, even if isn’t hot at the time.
Kids love to play with bungee cords, but unfortunately, some of them play by wrapping the bungee cord around their neck or creating other situations where they can pose a strangulation danger. Another more likely danger is that the cord snaps back or slips and sends the metal hook flying in their face, causing eye injuries or cuts.
The dangers of Q-tips
Do not let children use Q-tips to clean their ears. Though it may seem strange to imagine Q-tips as dangerous to stick in your ear, (many assume that’s precisely what they were designed for) many a child has inserted them too far and stuck it straight through their eardrum, causing permanent hearing loss. Pediatricians recommend cleaning the ear with a wash cloth and warm water to deal with excessive wax, but caution parents never to stick items inside the ear to clean it. Also keep in mind that having some ear wax is healthy, as it serves to lubricate the eardrums and keep the ear from drying out.
The danger from pens & pencils
These are especially dangerous to toddlers (who happen to love walking around simply holding found items), and also happen to be clumsy. A pen or pencil can impale a child through the eyeball if they fall, leading not just to a lost eye but potential brain injuries.
Beverage cans & tabs
Children occasionally break these off the soda can and swallow them. Surgery has been required in a few cases, although the number of known ER visits from this are extremely small. One study identified 19 children from 1993 to 2009, though there were certainly more cases that were never brought to the attention of medical personnel. Also remind children not to stick their tongues through the opening of a beverage can, as this has led to countless numbers of painful cuts on the tongue.
Washers, dryers & dishwashing machines
Many kids have died after making these appliances into impromptu play spaces or hiding spots. They either suffocate or die of hypothermia after the machine is somehow turned on.
Ceiling fans can pose a risk to children when they are positioned too close to bunk beds or other furniture that a child could climb on. They can also pose a strangulation risk if a child somehow gets a piece of clothing or cloth caught in the fan that they’ve put around their neck. (It may seem difficult to do, but such deaths have occurred before.)
Ladders can pose a danger to kids while just hanging on a garage wall, if they are stored in a way that makes them accessible to children. Kids will often climb on them, causing the ladder to fall over.
Single-wash laundry detergent packets
These have become popular among parents for their ease of use and convenience. Unfortunately, the cute little packages and bright swirl-like colors can make them look like candy to a small child, and so these have emerged as a significant poisoning hazard. One study found poison control centers received hundreds of calls pertaining to single use laundry detergent packets within a 20 day period. A more recent analysis found 4,865 such poisonings among children under five in the first half of 2013, and rates continue to increase. (Ng, 3013) So be sure to keep them out of reach, or if your child is old enough, explain what is actually inside them.
Many parents put their kids to bed in baggy sweats. But according to Angela Mickalide, director of research and programs for Safe Kids Worldwide “The biggest risk with loose fitting pajamas is that they can easily catch fire.” (Parenting, January 2012, p 27) Your best bet is to go with specialized sleepware for kids, which must be either tight fitting or flame retardant according to CPSC guidelines.