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Unexpected Household Dangers  
Little unforeseen dangers around the house


SafetyAt times it seems as if the everyday world is a battleground filled with dangers for your child. While many parents are aware of major dangers and undertake the proper precautions such as fencing the area around a family swimming pool, adding child safety locks to doors housing household cleaning supplies, and placing plastic plugs in electrical outlets, there are also a number of unexpected danger areas of which every family should be aware. Try as we may to monitor them constantly, little feet and hands, combined with boundless energy and newfound curiosity, make for a dangerous combination.

The following are some common situations that may exist in your household that, although benign to adults and older children, can pose a significant danger to infants, toddlers, and younger children:

Buckets of standing water—If you have tile, ceramic, vinyl, or hardwood floors you, no doubt, periodically scrub your floors. A large scrub bucket filled with water is your primary tool for the job. From your perspective, a bucket of water seems innocent enough and certainly poses no danger. However, take the perspective of a toddler who is just slightly taller than the bucket, is very unstable on his or her feet, and is filled with curiosity. A toddler can easily bend over to investigate the contents of the bucket (or any other container holding water), lose his or her balance, and fall forward into the bucket. The combination of a stable bucket and a top-heavy infant or toddler is a dangerous combination. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), over 275 young children have drowned in buckets since 1984 with another 30 having been hospitalized. The CPSC warns that parents and caregivers should never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended where a small child may gain access to it. The CPSC notes other possible danger areas include toilets (20 drownings since 1990) and bathtubs, basins, showers, and jetted bathtubs (approximately 100 drownings each year).

SafetyScalding water temperatures—In the excitement of bringing a new baby into the home, it's nearly impossible to completely childproof the house in anticipation of every event that may occur. Many households have their hot water heaters set at temperatures high enough to produce water hot enough to scald the skin of infants, toddlers, and young children. It is all too easy for curious hands to turn a faucet handle during bath time. The CPSC recommends that hot water heater temperatures be set at no greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It also notes that anti-scald devices are available which can keep water temperatures below 120 degrees to help prevent burns from scalding water.

Drapery/blind cords—As a child grows, beautifully decorated rooms for babies become a toddler's bedroom. Horizontal blinds and draperies are a natural choice for controlling light in the room but they too, pose a possible threat to your child's safety. Strangulations have occurred when a child, reaching from a crib for a dangling drapery or window blind cord, slips and becomes entangled in the looped cord end. The CPSC recommends the following:

  • Never place a crib or child's bed near window blinds or drapery cords.
  • With horizontal blinds—cut the cord above the tassel, remove the equalizer buckle, and add a separate tassel at the end of each cord, or cut the cord above the tassel, remove the equalizer buckle, and add a breakaway tassel, which will separate if a child becomes entangled in the loop. To prevent inner cords from being pulled into a loop, install cord stops. For detailed instructions, visit
  • To prevent additional strangulation risks, the CPSC warms never tie a pacifier or any other object around a child's neck.

SafetyBalloons—They're bright, colorful, and fun for all ages but they also pose potential dangers to your children, as well as pets. Balloons pose a significant choking hazard to children. The CPSC states, "Do not allow children under the age of six to play with uninflated balloons without supervision. Immediately collect the pieces of broken balloons and dispose of them out of the reach of young children." Similar choking dangers may also be found with marbles and small balls. The CPSC recommends keeping small balls and other smooth round objects away from those children how have a tendency to place small objects in their mouths. Each year, the CPSC receives approximately 15 reports of choking deaths in children under the age of 3 as a result of balloons, balls, marbles, and small toy parts.

Trash/dry cleaning bags—Plastic bags have become a staple in our modern lives and they, too, pose a possible threat to young children. The CPSC receives an average of 25 reports a year of children who have suffocated due to plastic bags. The CPSC adds that 90 percent of those suffocations occur with children less than one year of age. Some instances the CPSC notes include:

  • Child crawled into plastic garbage bag.
  • Child pulled plastic dry-cleaning bag over face while lying on adult bed.
  • Child rolled off mattress onto plastic bag filled with clothes.
  • Child slept on mattress covered by plastic bag.
  • Plastic garbage bag (filled with clothes) fell over on victim's face and mouth while victim was on adult bed.

The CPSC recommends that children should never be put to sleep on or near plastic bags. In addition, warnings now printed on plastic bags emphasize that all plastic bags should be kept away from babies and children and they should not be used in cribs, carriages, or playpens. Plastic bags should never be used as a toy.

It's a daunting task to consider all the possible dangers, but a little knowledge and common sense will help immensely. So look around your home, make the necessary adjustments, and breathe a little bit easier knowing you've eliminated at least some potential dangers from your child's life.

Consumer Product Safety Commission—
Window Covering Safety Council—

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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