Child Safety Education: Keeping Your Child Safe

You know the obvious household dangers -- but what are you missing?
You know the obvious household dangers -- but what are you missing?

Most parents know to childproof their homes by installing safety plugs in electrical outlets and storing detergents and other household chemicals out of reach. But did you know that balloons kill more kids than virtually any other plaything? Choking on these colorful decorations is a serious hazard -- only bicycles and riding toys account for more deaths.

Susan Price, co-author with Miriam Bachar Settle, Ph.D., of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Child Safety, became interested -- no, consumed -- with the importance of child safety after the birth of her daughter, Julie, in 1985.

"Here I had this new baby, and I was totally responsible for keeping her safe," she remembers. "I felt like I didn't know anything, so I took a child safety class. That's when I learned how much can go wrong, and really got scared!"

Price recommends that every parent take a child safety course, but warns that taking classes is not enough; you also have to take action. Our childproof house shows you how to keep your home -- and your child -- out of harm's way.

"For example, everyone knows cleaning supplies should be locked up, but a class will show you that a lot of other products are dangerous too, like perfume, some cosmetics and vitamins that contain iron," she says. She also notes that safety advice can change. For instance, until recently, pediatricians recommended that babies sleep on their stomachs.

Now, they're urging parents to put babies to sleep on their backs, and this one simple act has cut the death rate due to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) by 40 percent. Learning about the Back to Sleep campaign is just one of many examples of how changes in child safety recommendations can affect your child.

Another way to keep up with changes is to sign onto the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Web site to receive regular emails on recalled products. "Paying attention to recalls is important because you may think you have chosen the best equipment, but new information reveals it is defective," Price says. She also recommends checking out the Web sites of the Safe Kids Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which list safety tips for kids.