Your home is your cocoon, where you feel safe and secure. However, it also contains a variety of things that can have an impact on your health and the health of your baby.
Lead is a very soft metal that can be easily worked, does not rust and is difficult to break. Lead is cheap and, in the past, was frequently used in pencils, paint and gasoline. Lead accumulates in the body, especially in the liver and the bones.
Here are some things you can do:
- Where possible, buy canned foods from Canada or the U.S. where the cans are not made with lead solder.
- To avoid tracking lead into the house when you clean floors, do not wear your outdoor shoes in the home. Use a high-efficiency filter vacuum or damp mop floors.
- Do not use power sanders or power scrapers when removing lead paint.
- Do not plant fruits and vegetables near the road, especially along major streets or highways, as they may absorb lead left from traffic exhaust.
- Do not store food and drinks in lead crystal containers.
- Gardens and play areas should not be near peeling paint surfaces or other possible sources of lead.
- Never burn painted wood or coloured paper; paints/inks can contain lead.
- Run taps for one minute when the water has not been used for a number of hours as lead might have been used in the water system.
- Use cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby food because lead leaches into hot water more easily.
Adapted from Hidden Exposures, Reproduction and the Environment Fact Sheets. Produced by South Riverdale Community Health Center in collaboration with Toronto Public Health, Copyright Dec 2001 with permission from South Riverdale Community Health Center.
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For many years, your child will not be able to understand the concept of danger. As your very curious child continues to develop through different stages and explores every corner of your home, you will need to keep him safe from all harmful things – especially poisons. As a parent, you'll need to set up effective safety barriers. To do this, you should learn about the products in your home. Do you know which products are dangerous for children?
Infants and toddlers often explore their world by putting things in their mouths. Babies and very young children often put things in their mouths as a way of exploring the world.
You should keep cleaning products safely locked up from the moment you bring your baby home from the hospital. Many children are able to get into cabinets before their parents realize that they have learned to do this.
Products should always be stored in their original containers. It’s much easier to make a mistake about a harmful substance if it’s not in its original container. Poisonings have occurred because an item such as paint thinner was stored in a soft drink bottle. Keep items in the container they came in and make sure the labels are clear.
Keep drugs safely out of reach - including over-the-counter drugs that may be in your purse. Swallowing medicine is the most common cause of poisoning in children, even birth control pills or vitamin pills can poison your child. Avoid taking medication when your child is watching - this is one of the ways they learn. Otherwise, he may try to find your medication and copy you. Keep in mind that child resistant safety caps are not childproof. In fact, many children can open them.
Don’t assume that because something tastes bad your baby will not consume it. Babies and young children frequently swallow things (i.e. perfume) that do not taste or smell good to adults. Perfume is a poison. If your child swallows this, it can be very dangerous.
If you smoke, be sure to store and dispose of your cigarettes, butts and ashtrays somewhere your child cannot get access to them. If your child swallows just 1 unsmoked cigarette or 2 cigarette butts, he could get sick.
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The time when you can finally bring your new baby home from the hospital may still feel like a long way away, but before you know it, you'll be making that trip. Making sure your home is safe for your baby may not be on the top of your list during pregnancy. But, if you start to reduce some of those hazards around the home now, it won't seem so overwhelming later.
During the first few weeks at home, most new parents are kept so busy caring for their baby and themselves that making the home safe for their baby isn't on their "To Do" list.
The following list leads you through the rooms of a typical home or apartment to learn what unsafe features may be there.
1. Under Kitchen Sink
Get into the habit of storing household cleaning products, poisons and the recycling container in a location that is high out of reach of a curious baby, and install a childproof lock for this cabinet.
2. Microwave Oven
Electrical appliances, such as microwave ovens, toasters and kettles, should not be plugged in near the sink. They, or their cords, could be accidentally knocked into the water and create a terrible electrical shock.
3. Dangling Electrical Cord
This allows a baby to grab it and pull the appliance. Keep baby away from any electrical cord even if you're holding your baby.
4. Controls on the Front of a Stove or Dishwasher
Little fingers can turn on the controls on the front of your big appliances, such as a stove or dishwasher. If you're buying new appliances, order ones with the controls at the back.
Sharp objects, such as knives, should be stored out of the reach of children.
6. Pots and Pans
Pots and pans should be used on the back burner and their handles turned in towards the center of the stove. If your pot handle is near the front of the stove, you could accidentally knock a hot pot which could fall or spill on your baby. Older toddlers can reach and pull hot pots down on themselves, too.
7. Items on Stove Top
Items that have just come off the stove or out of the oven should be placed at the back of the counter to prevent the possibility of an accidental burn.
8. Pill or Vitamin Bottle
Pills and vitamins should be placed in a locked cupboard or high out of reach of a child. Discard all old pills and vitamins you rarely use.
Stairs should have a hand rail and always be well lit. Baby gates should be installed at the top of and bottom of stairs before your baby begins to crawl. This prevents falls and keeps a young child from going up or down the stairs without a parent. Anchored gates are the safest. Remember, objects left on stairs can cause a fall, particularly if you are carrying your baby or a load.
1. Book Case
Tall furniture, such as book cases should be anchored to the wall to prevent tipping over, should a child try to climb it, or pull it over.
2. Coffee Table Corner
Sharp edges on furniture may need to be padded to protect your children's heads once they start crawling around.
3. Electrical Outlets
Electrical outlets should have safety covers to prevent little fingers from getting an electrical burn.
4. Dangling Light Cords
Dangling light cords should be placed so a baby or child cannot pull on them.
5. Table Cloths
Table cloths and babies do not mix well. As babies get older, they will grab for any item, even if you are holding them.
6. Burning Candles
Burning candles should be out of the reach of babies and children and only be lit if you are in the room.
Fireplaces are not safe for a crawling baby. Have fireplace doors that close. A baby should not be left in a room alone where there is a fireplace.
8. Household Plants
Household plants may pose a hazard if they are considered poisonous. It is also awfully tiring to clean up a plant (even an edible one!) that has been tipped over. Place all plants out of reach and get rid of poisonous plants.
1. Blind Cords
Blind cords should be placed high out of the reach of children, because, unfortunately, children like to play with cords and sometimes wrap them around their necks or become entangled in them.
No child's crib or bed should have pillows unless the child is over two years of age. An infant could suffocate with a pillow.
3. Quilts or Bumper Pads
You should not place any quilts or bumper pads on your baby's bed. These have been linked to decreased air circulation and may pose a risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Babies should be dressed in sleepers (but not too warmly). If a blanket is used, it should be very lightweight.
4. Stuffed Toys
You should not place any stuffed toys in your baby's crib. They may cause suffocation for a young baby. Older babies, playing with these while unattended can loosen or lose stuffing or decorations which can create a choking hazard.
Beds should not be placed near windows or radiators. It's too easy for glass to break and young children can fall out of the windows. Radiators can burn small children.
6. Decorator Night Lights
Decorator night lights may look cute to adults, but are like toys to children.
More information on safe sleep for baby can be found on Health Canada's Website.
1. List of Emergency Numbers
ALL emergency numbers should be posted by the phone, including: Poison control centre, Police, Fire department, Ambulance, Local hospital, Hydro -in case of power outage, Gas - in case of gas leak.
1. Mat in the Bathtub
Use a skid-proof mat in the bathtub or skid-proof strips.
2. Water Heater
The temperature of the water heater should be lowered to 48°C (120°F).
3. Anti-scald Devices
Place anti-scald devices on the tub and sink faucets to prevent scalds.
4. Water in the Tub
Always run the cold water first and then add enough hot water to make the tub water warm. Then you should test it first with an elbow, to make sure the water is warm, not hot.
5. Baby in Tub
You should never leave your baby or a young child alone in the tub.
6. Toilet Bowl
The toilet lid should always be placed down after use. A small toddler can drown in a toilet bowl, if they get tipped in headfirst.
7. Curling Iron
Electrical appliances, such as a curling iron, found in the bathroom should be unplugged when not in use and not left plugged in near the sink or tub.
8. Medications or Cosmetic Products
Medications, or cosmetic products—shampoos and conditioners and baby changing products like baby powder, diaper pins—should be kept in a cupboard with a childproof lock, or high out of reach. (Some children find it easy to open so-called "child proof" lids.)
9. Cleaning Products
Cleaning products and solutions should be kept out of the reach of children.
10. Diaper Pail and Wastebasket
Diaper pail and wastebasket should be in cabinets with childproof locks.
11. Bathroom Door
The bathroom door can be unlockable from the outside. Most children will lock themselves in a bathroom at least once.
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Although it will be a few months before your new baby is mobile, your goal will be to keep your precious child safe. Sooner than you think, your baby will be reaching for things, and most likely putting them straight into his mouth, so it’s important to make your home safe right away.
A checklist has been provided below as a guide to help you keep your home safe. In addition to the points provided, be sure to look carefully around your home to see what else you can do to ensure your child’s safety. By doing this, when your baby does start to reach for things or crawl to things, you won’t have to worry about baby’s safety.
Use the following checklist as a guide to help you keep your home safe. You may want to print a copy of this checklist and keep it close by as an easy reference.
- Post all emergency numbers by the phone.
- Post the emergency number for poison control centre.
- Post the emergency number for police.
- Post the emergency number for fire department.
- Post the emergency number for ambulance.
- Post the emergency number for local hospital.
- Post the emergency number for the hydro—in case of a power outage.
- Post the emergency number for gas—in case of a gas leak.
- Put safety coverings on all electrical outlets.
- Lock up all hazardous products.
- Lock up drugs and medications (many children can take off childproof safety tops)—don't forget those that are in purses or jackets of guests, such as grandparents.
- Lock up cleaning solutions.
- Lock up cigarettes, tobacco, matches and lighters.
- Lock up alcoholic beverages.
- Lock up garbage.
- Lock up soiled diapers and diaper pails.
- Lock up skin care products and container caps, cornstarch and diaper pins.
- Lock up plastic and dry cleaning bags.
- Lock up cat litter boxes and pet food.
- Lock up electrical, computer and telephone cords and cables.
- Lock up batteries.
- Lock up breakable materials.
- Lock up items that are personally valuable.
- Lock up all guns in a cabinet that is secured to the structure of the building.
- Lock up the ammunition in a separate container; secure the gun with a trigger lock that needs a special key or wrench; and keep the key or wrench locked up separately from the gun.
- Ensure that all cleaning materials, medications and toxic substances are clearly labeled. Never store hazardous products in drinking bottles.
- Remove all objects that your child could use to reach dangerous items or climb out of the crib or playpen.
- Remove all locks on the inside of doors so your child cannot lock himself in a room.
- Keep all hanging curtain or blind cords out of reach.
- Keep free-standing lamps behind heavy furniture.
- Ensure all windows that open have screens and locks.
- Secure loose flooring or rugs.
- Check for tiny objects buried in rugs.
- Toss a towel over the top of the door—this prevents doors from slamming shut and hurting fingers.
- Ensure furniture is sturdy, splinter-free and without sharp edges.
- Block open stairway—do not use pressure-mounted gates at the top of a staircase—one good punch by your child or pet and all will go tumbling down.
- Keep purses out of reach, including those of visitors; they may contain medicines or sharp objects.
- Block wet areas (such as, freshly washed floors) so your child doesn’t slip and fall.
- Ensure you child is safe while you are answering the phone or door.
- Use a seat belt when your child is in a highchair, stroller, portable swing or any other piece of equipment.
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detector(s) in your home. (NOTE: smoke alarms are now required by law in Ontario.)
- Supervise your child constantly.
- Never leave your child alone on a change table or bed.
- Never leave your child alone with a bottle.
- Never leave your child alone in the bath (children can drown in as little as 4 cm (1 1/2") of water).
- Never leave your child alone in a highchair.
- Never leave your child alone on a bean bag chair or water bed (children can roll over and smother in the soft fabric).
- Never leave your child alone on a balcony.
- Never leave your child alone with a pet, including sleeping with a child (jealous or curious pets can hurt children).
- Never leave your child alone in a car—not even for a very brief time.
- Never leave your child alone in the house—not even for a very brief time.
- Remove all poisonous plants from your home and yard.
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