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Safety Proofing

Safety proofing your home for young children, adults with developmental or other disabilities, or older relatives with dementia can take a lot of time and effort. But it's important - each year more children die from preventable injuries than from all childhood diseases combined.

There are some simple things you can do to immediately improve the safety in your home that don't take too much time or money. See the quick tips below to get started. If you need more information about addressing certain safety issues, visit the recommended Web sites at the end of this list.

Keep poisonous materials and dangerous objects out of reach and secured.

Keep medicine, poisonous household materials, matches and other flammable materials, sharp objects such as scissors and knives, and weapons out of the home or at least hidden and out of reach of young children. Secure them in locked cabinets that only you can open. With guns, use trigger locks; these can usually be found where guns are sold; keep the lock keys and ammunition in separate places. Install child proof locks on kitchen and bathroom cabinets (these are affordable and can be purchased from hardware stores, drugstores, and dollar stores.)

Use safety gates and handrails to prevent falls.

Whether it's to keep a toddler from falling down the stairs or to help a disabled relative move up and down the stairs, installing safety gates in front of stairs and having solid handrails in bathrooms and on stairwells can reduce the risk of injury for everyone in your family. Be sure that cribs and high chairs have safety guards.

Use window guards and safety netting.

Install these to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks, and landings.

Keep objects that may cause choking or suffocation away from small children and adults with developmental disabilities.

These include, but aren't limited to, plastic bags, bags from dry cleaning, small objects and toys or appliances with small parts which could be swallowed. Check labels on toy packages for age-appropriateness before letting children play with the toys.

Cover electrical outlets that aren't in use.

Child proof covers are cheap and easy to install and prevent children and others from putting fingers or other objects into outlets.

Install safety features in your bathroom.

You can purchase toilet locks to prevent drowning, if you have a small child; faucet covers prevent drowning and anti-scald devices can stop accidental burning; and baby bath mats (for young children) and bathroom handrails (for adults) to prevent falls.

Make sure your child or relative is safe outside the home too.

Be sure to use a car seat when transporting your child. Know how to install the seat properly and be sure it is the right seat for your child's size and weight. Also make sure relatives and caregivers child proof their homes and, be alert to potential dangers when visiting others' homes. It is your responsibility, especially during a casual visit.

Remember, nothing takes the place of close adult supervision.

To find out more about child-proofing your home, visit these Web sites:

Educational resources for children:

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