Parent Information

Indoor Safety Tips

Place an emergency sticker on the telephone in an area where children spend a lot of time!  This sticker should contain the telephone numbers of the police, fire department, ambulance, local hospital, physician, poison control center in NYC (212-340-4494), and your home address and telephone number.

Teach your children--even at a young age--to dial 911 in case of an emergency and to be able to state their full name and address.

All baby sitters should be at least 13 years old and mature enough to understand parental instructions and handle common emergencies.


Choking, Strangulation, and Suffocation

Choking and suffocation are among the most common causes of preventable death in children less than 1 year old.  They also cause many deaths in children less than 14 years of age every year.  It is a good idea to learn CPR in case of a choking emergency.

The most common objects that cause choking are:

  • Foods such as hot dogs, grapes, nuts, popcorn, and hard candy.
  • Toys or parts of toys that are small enough to place in the mouth.
  • Uninflated balloons or pieces of a burst balloon.
  • Small items such as coins, marbles, buttons, beads, watch/camera batteries, and safety pins.

Strangulation of infants and children in the home is most commonly linked to:

  • Drapery and extension cords--remove cords out of reach by tucking them under furniture or tying them well out of reach
  • Cords used to suspend rattles, pacifiers, or jewelry around a child's neck

Suffocation in the home is linked to:

  • Plastic bags (e.g. grocery, dry cleaning)
  • Laying infants on their stomach to sleep, particularly if done on soft materials, pillows, comforters, or toys.  Always place your baby on his/her back to sleep, refrain from having stuffed toys in the crib, and make sure bumpers are securely tied.


Inhalation and Burns

Inhalation--Most fire-related deaths and injuries are caused by smoke inhalation.

Install smoke detectors on each level of your home.  Check the batteries twice a year--daylight savings time change is a good reminder.

  • Do not smoke in your home--particularly in your bed!  Smoking is an important cause of home fires.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Do not use electrical appliances with frayed cords or damaged plugs.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the house, particularly in the kitchen and any room with a fireplace.
  • Develop an escape plan in case of fire.  Identify appropriate exit routes and a family meeting point outside the house.  Teach children to stay close to the floor if there is smoke in a room.

Burns--Most scalds are caused by a hot liquid that spills on a child.  This type of injury can cause pain, infection, and long-term scarring and disability.

  • Always turn pot handles toward the center and the back of the stove.
  • Keep cups of hot liquid away from the edges of tables and counters.  Don't drink hot tea or coffee while holding a child!
  • Make sure your hot water heater is set between 120 and 130 degrees.  Skin will take 5 minutes to burn at 120 degrees F and 6 seconds to burn at 140 degrees F..  Check the hot water temperature with a meat thermometer from the faucet located closest to your hot water heater.
  • Keep irons out of your child's reach and place a leavier around wood stoves, radiators, and other heat sources.
  • When purchasing a humidifier or vaporizer, always buy the cold air model.  Hot water humidifiers are unnecessary and may cause burns in an accidental spill.

Carbon Monoxide--this gas is invisible and odorless!

  • Use kerosene and gasoline powered heaters only in well ventilated areas.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • Have your heating system checked by a professional once a year and have your chimney cleaned once a year.



A child is killed with a loaded gun every two hours.

  • Injuries cause by firearms are a leading cause of death and disability in children and adolescents.  These injuries are almost always self-inflicted or caused by a sibling or a friend.  Most firearm injuries result from handguns, and most child-related shootings involve guns obtained in the home of the victim or a friend.
  • Firearm ownership is correlated with higher rates of injuries to children.  If you own a gun, store it unloaded in a locked cabinet or drawer, and store the ammunition locked in a separate location.  Check the guns frequently to make sure children have not played with them.


Falls are commonplace and often minor, but they are the most frequent cause of injury in children less than 6 years o age.  Approximately 200 children die as a result of falls each year.
Common causes of falls include:

  • Sinks, countertops, bathtubs, and changing tables.  Never leave an infant unattended on a raised surface--your infant could roll over at any point.
  • Stairs.  Twenty percent of falls occur on stairs.  Provide adequate lighting, remove toys from stairs, tack down loose carpet, and use appropriate gate enclosures that are securely fastened to the wall.
  • Walkers.  Every year 29,000 serious injuries occur to children in walkers.  The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of walkers, and they do not help the child walk independently any faster.
  • Windows.  Open windows only from the top or no more than 4-5 inches from the bottom.  Secure them at the proper height with a burglar lock (available from hardware stores).  Keep furniture that a toddler may climb on away from windows.



Drowning is a major cause of death and disability in children and may occur indoors as well as outdoors.  The household bath is the most common site for drowning for infants up to 1 year of age and only requires a few inches of water.  Always closely supervise infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the bath and near any container of water, including buckets and toilets.

Crib safety

  • Always place your child to sleep on his/her back to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  The peak incidence of SIDS is 4-6 months and may occur up to 1 year of age.  Other risk factors for SIDS include cigarette smoke exposure, overwrapping, soft sleeping surfaces, bed sharing, and lack of breastfeeding.
  • Crib slats should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart.  Modern crib regulations require this spacing; check your crib carefully if you have an older model.
  • Never leave the crib rails down when your baby is in the crib.
  • Hanging crib toys should be out of the baby's reach.  Any hanging crib toy must be removed when your baby first beings to push up on his hands and knees or whenever your baby is 5 months old, whichever comes first.  These toys can strangle a baby.
  • Bumper pads should be used until the baby begins to stand, at which point they should be removed since they can be used as steps.
  • The crib mattress should be lowered to its lowest position before your baby can pull to stand, usually by 7-8 months.
  • Keep blankets, pillows, and toys out of the crib to prevent suffocation.  It is safer to dress a child in multiple layers of clothing.
  • Never place a crib near cords from a hanging window blind or drapery.
  • When your child attempts to climb out of the crib, he/she is ready for a toddler or regular bed.


  • Pay attention to the age label on toys.  A young child can easily choke on a small part of a toy designed for an older child.
  • Avoid toys that shoot objects or have sharp edges or points.
  • Repair or discard broken toys.
  • Toys intended for older children should not be accessible to toddlers and preschoolers.

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