Home Risks for Children Increase During Summer Vacation

Know how to childproof your home this summerAdults like to reminisce about the carefree, lazy days of summer, but for today's kids, summer vacation is anything but. And the average home isn't necessarily a refuge from danger.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide and U.S. News and World Report, summer is Trauma Season, with an average of 2.4 million children visiting the emergency room and over 2,800 deaths during that 2-month period.

Parents may think that home is the safest place for their children, but 69 percent of children's deaths were from home-related accidents. Children younger than 5 and boys are the most frequent victims. The dangers at home are universal, as illustrated in a recent Jerusalem Post article that reported a new public safety campaign uniting childhood safety advocates with interior designers and architects to come up with solutions to the risks that children face at home.

To find out where the dangers lurk in your home, read on:

Five Home Danger Zones:

1. Stairs and balconies. Homes today are designed with sweeping staircases and dramatic balconies which add the wow factor for potential buyers. But those architectural details that adults love are invitations to active, curious children to risk dangerous falls. Even mundane staircases become treacherous when items are left behind and tripped over. It is imperative that families with children install safety gates to prevent access to these areas.

2. Entertainment center. According to the Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, there has been a 41 percent rise in the number of children whose visit to the emergency room was caused by a television falling on them. This has been attributed to the growing number of flat screen televisions, which are on low tables (making them easy to tip) or have been wall-mounted incorrectly and fall off their brackets. Some 75 percent of the children affected were under 6 years old. To prevent such injuries, professional installation is recommended.

3. Near heavy furniture. The instances of furniture tipping and crushing children became so prevalent that Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Penn.) introduced legislation in both 2005 and 2007 for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to set more rigorous standards for furniture that poses a substantial risk for tipping. Although the legislation died in committee both times, this is not a problem that should be ignored. It is recommended that tall furniture (bookcases, chests, armoires, etc.) be attached to the wall using safety straps or L-brackets. Also install drawer stops on tall chests so that a child cannot pull one on top of him/herself.

4. Exercise room. The most famous case of death by exercise equipment was the strangulation death of Mike Tyson's 4-year-old daughter. In addition to this danger, children have broken bones from falling off equipment and gotten burned from touching treadmill belts. Weightlifting equipment also poses a risk. It is best to keep exercise equipment locked up and unplugged to prevent accidents.

5. Swimming pool. This probably comes to mind first when thinking of dangers at home. Everyone has heard about a child wandering outside and drowning. It is simple enough to protect your child during the off-season by covering the pool and spa with a locking, child-proof cover. During the swim season extra precautions need to be taken, and one of the best ways to protect your child is to invest in a pool alarm. A pool alarm sits on the pool edge and electronically monitors the pool. If a child or pet falls in, it triggers a loud alarm by the pool and also at a remote receiver in your home, up to 200 feet away from the main unit. Another lesser-known risk of pools and spas is electrocution. The American Red Cross has reported more than 60 deaths due to electrocution from faulty pool lighting, wiring and vacuums. Be sure to have electrical components inspected yearly for potential shock dangers.

Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. She creates one-of-a-kind interiors that reflect your taste, lifestyle and budget. Follow on Twitter @thedesigndiva.

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