Health and Safety, Ages 2 to 5 Years (cont.)
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Safety Measures Around the Home
Preventing your child from having accidents and injuries is a huge task. Children ages 2 to 5 years reason with self-centered perceptions and magical thinking. These thought patterns lead children to overestimate what is in their control, which contributes to their vulnerability. They are often unaware of the consequences of their actions.
You can help protect your child from accidents and injuries by taking general safety measures around your home. Also, think ahead about what potentially dangerous situations will attract your child.
Some parents think that strict safety measures are not needed because their child is closely supervised or has not yet shown an interest in dangerous areas or items. Although responsible supervision is important, it is not realistic to think that you can watch your child's every move or that he or she will never become curious about something off-limits. Also, constant hovering over children can limit their experiences and confidence. Balancing supervision with safety precautions will help prevent accidents and injuries, as well as allow children to explore.
The following are common accidents and injuries that can occur around the house, and some suggestions on how to prevent them.
Preventing falls is not always easy. Toddlers and young children often move quickly. Their excitement about their mobility and their lack of experience can make them unaware of dangers, such as stairs or hills. Children ages 4 to 5 years anticipate many dangers but may not have the physical skills to successfully avoid accidents. You can help prevent young children from falling by putting up stairway barriers, monitoring their play area, and providing stable play equipment. Also, keep walkways, decks, porches, and stairways free of objects.
Children ages 2 to 5 years can easily choke on everyday objects and food. Your child needs your supervision even though he or she may be able to eat independently.
You can help prevent choking by taking basic precautions in how you prepare foods and by teaching your child safe eating habits.
Strangulation and suffocation
Many household items can strangle a young child. Make sure loose cords, objects, and furniture do not pose strangling risks. The following suggestions can help you reduce potential hazards.
Suffocation is another danger for young children. Teach your child about suffocation and the importance of a safe play area. Pay attention to possible suffocation dangers, such as:
To prevent poisoning, identify household cleaners and other chemicals, plants, medicines, makeup, perfumes, and any other products that, when eaten or inhaled, can harm a child. It is critical to properly store these items out of reach of young children. If you have a possible poisoning emergency, call 1-800-222-1222 and you will be automatically transferred to the closest poison control center. For more information, see the topic Poisoning.
Lead poisoning is another cause for concern in young children who may chew on contaminated paint flakes, painted objects, or toys. House paint is no longer made with lead, but homes built before 1978 may still have lead paint on walls and other surfaces. For more information about lead, see the topic Lead Poisoning.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by frequently monitoring levels and taking precautionary measures, such as having your furnace checked each year. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. It is produced from burning fuels such as natural gas, gasoline, fuel oil, or wood (for example, in indoor heating systems, car engines, cooking appliances, or fires). High CO levels quickly affect young children because of their small size. For more information, see the topic Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Prevent household fires by having and maintaining smoke detectors, planning and practicing escape routes, and teaching your child basic fire safety skills. Children ages 2 to 5 are often curious about fire. Warn your child about the dangers of fire, and explain why only grown-ups are allowed to use it.
Serious burns are most often caused by heat, electricity, or chemicals. Other types of burns include radiation burns (usually from sun exposure) and friction burns. Prevent burn injuries to your child by identifying dangers in your home and removing them or blocking your child's access to them. For more information, see the topic Burns.
Guns and other weapons
Gun and firearm safety measures should be established for all households and especially those where children live or visit. Keep all guns and firearms in a locked area, unloaded, and out of reach of children. Also, store knives (even kitchen knives), swords, and other weapons safely out of reach.
Pets are in many households. Children who live in homes without pets likely will encounter animals in other settings. Many injuries can be avoided by teaching children how to properly interact with pets. Also, pet owners who train and keep their animals healthy are less likely to have problems when children are around.
Children younger than 5 years of age die from drowning more than any other age group.2 Help prevent a drowning tragedy by following the recommendations from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Safety Council, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In addition to these precautions, learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Knowing these skills can make the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. For more information, see the topic Dealing With Emergencies.
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