September is National Baby Safety Month (one of our favorite months, for obvious reasons: everyone pays attention to safety!). In honor of this special month and its 30 days, we are providing you with a 30-day plan to tighten up your safety belts in and around the house. Set aside a small amount of time every day, mark it on your calendar and then follow this plan to a safer environment for your baby.
September 1: Commit to taking care of all those little safety items around the house that have been nagging at you.
September 2: Car seat safety check. Is it properly installed (refer to installation instructions and vehicle owner's manual)? Center of back seat whenever possible - never in front passenger side when there is an airbag. Rear-facing for infants less than one year and 20 pounds. Your child must still be in a car seat until they are four years old and weigh at least 40 pounds.
September 3: If you have a pool or hot tub, is it surrounded by a locking 5 foot fence or a completely covered with a safety cover? Are there alarms on all doors leading from the house to the pool area? Are all toys removed from the pool and the surrounding area?
September 4: Have you talked to your children about guns? Tell them they are never to touch or play with guns, even if someone wants to only show them a gun, they are to leave and tell another adult immediately. If you own a gun: put the ammunition in a separate, locked place. Always unload the bullets from a gun. Keep the unloaded gun in a locked gun safe and the keys stored in a separate location unknown to your child.
September 5: Do you have a fire escape plan? Write one out with your mate or other adults in the house today and share the plan with your kids so they know what to do.
September 6: Check all fire safety equipment. Are smoke alarms working? Fire extinguishers are full and adults and older children know how to use them? Flashlights are strategically placed in your home with extra batteries available?
September 7: Play the stop, drop and roll game with your kids. If their clothes catch on fire teach them to stop, drop and roll. Practice yelling out "I'm in here!" in case they get trapped in a room and the fire fighters need to find them.
September 8: Check baby's crib. Are the slats less than 2-3/8 inches? All slats are secure? The corner posts should not be any higher than the end panels and never should they extend over the end panels. No holes in the mattress? Stuffed animals removed? Crib is not near any windows, electrical outlets, lamps, no pictures over the crib, etc.? Mobiles have been removed if baby can pull up? For more information on crib safety visit http//www.dannyfoundation.org.
September 9: Check condition and sturdiness of toys. Discard any with sharp edges or are broken or falling apart.
September 10: Check children's clothing for loose buttons and remove strings.
September 11: Is baby's pacifier still in good condition. Be sure it isn't coming apart. Never use strings to attach the pacifier to baby's clothes or crib.
September 12: Is sleepwear fire retardant? Check the labels to be sure.
September 13: Review safety gates and play yards. Do not use older accordian style safety gates (top looks like XXXXX): These are a strangulation hazard. Check the CPSC recall list on our web site for your model.
September 14: Where do you set baby's carrier when she's in it? Not on the counter please, or any high surface. Babies can wiggle and tip themselves over.
September 15: Are you using an old walker? It's time to throw it out. Walkers can be dangerous (especially old ones that don't meet today's safety standards), they allow baby to move very quickly and reach things they normally can't. Never use around stairs.
September 16: Stroller check. If your stroller is collapsible, be sure latches are secure before putting baby in. Always check that your child's arms are out of the way when reversing handle directions so they won't get pinched. Be sure to use that safety strap. Don't hang overloaded or heavy bags on the handle of the stroller, this may cause it to tip over.
September 17: Review your cooking habits. Are you using the back burners first and turning the pot handles to the back of the stove? Use the back burners for frying and boiling foods.
September 18: Talk to your children about stove and oven safety. Teach them they are hot and never to touch them.
September 19: If you have an unused freezer or refrigerator stored in your garage or yard, have it removed. Be sure to store it with the door towards the wall until it's gone. Children can climb inside and suffocate.
September 20: How are the latches on your cupboards holding up? Have any broken off and need to be replaced?
September 21: Can you name the 12 most common choking foods for kids under five? *Answers listed at the end.
September 22: Don't leave toddler's alone while eating, if they begin to choke you need to be nearby to assist.
September 23: Get a piggy bank: this is a great place to put coins so they don't end up on the floor, in the couch cushions and then baby's mouth.
September 24: Flush old/expired prescriptions and medications down the toilet. Be sure that medications are placed up high where little ones can not get access to them, keeping in mind, that they can climb. Don't call medication "candy". They are unable to discern the difference.
September 25: Never leave your child unattended in the bathtub. If the phone rings, let the machine get it, or bring a cordless phone into the bathroom with you. Wait until baby can sit alone to give baths in the tub. It's easier in the sink until then. Check that the hot water heater is not set any higher than 120 degrees.
September 26: Do a quick survey of your yard every time the kids are going out to play. Is there any yard equipment that they have access to? Trimmers, lawnmowers, etc. cause injury to children every year.
September 27: Check the cords on your miniblinds and draperies. These have caused many strangulations among young children. Be sure they are tied up or cut off and kept out of your child's reach. The loop of the cord should break apart if you slide your hand between the two cords.
September 28: Bolt bookshelves to the walls. Climbing little ones can bring the entire unit toppling over on them.
September 29: Enroll in a infant/child CPR and first aid class. This will be a valuable investment of your time.
September 30: Get down on your hands and knees and crawl through your house. See what your child is seeing. Have you missed anything?
Congratulations! You made it through the whole month and your child's environment is a much safer place. There is still work to be done though. Be sure to check our web site regularly for the latest safety information and recalls.
*Answers to 21: Common choking foods for children under five years: Popcorn, hot dogs, chunks of meat, raisins, ice cubes, chunky peanut butter, peanuts (nuts of any kind), hard candy, grapes, raw carrots, potato chips and corn chips.
About the authors: Lisa Carter and Lori Marques are real sisters and California natives. Together, they have five children. Their book, Child Safety Made Easy, is a compilation of three years of research on death and injury to children and is available in English
and Spanish. Also known as The Paranoid Sisters, Carter and Marques frequently speak at parent conferences, on radio programs and are resources for newspaper and magazine articles.