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Keeping Your Kids Safe From Household Hazards. By Jess Walter

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Keeping Your Kids Safe from household Hazards

The word ‘home’ is normally associated with safety, protection, and rest, but a large-scale study by the Home Safety Council has found that home injuries cause 21 million emergency visits per year. One of the problems is feeling too secure about our home environment. A study conducted at the University of Alabama, Birmingham found that new parents were able to identify less than 50% of the hazards in a simulated home environment. If you are a new parent and you’d like to keep your kids safe and sound, the following tips may be useful.

Knowing the Most Common Dangers

Research shows that some of the most common injury risks at home are falls, fires, toxic cleaning and other products, and cuts and scrapes. In addition to storing potentially dangerous items (such as harsh cleaning products) in child-proof storage spaces, structural changes may also be necessary. If you have stairs, baby gates are clearly key. If there are level changes between rooms, connect these via simple rubber transition slip or similar material. In the kitchen, ensure burner knobs are covered in child-proof plastic devices and that a stove guard stops your kids from reaching hot pots and pans. Little by little, you can begin to test for things such as carbon monoxide levels (via an easily accessible carbon monoxide detector). Draft a list of how to address the most common hazards; it may seem like a lot at first but once these are out of the way, you can breathe easily throughout your children’s early years.

Keeping Your Home Spick and Span

In addition to preventing injury, keeping your home neat and tidy are key to reduce both illness and injury. You can do so while lowering the level of chemicals in your home by opting for regular vacuuming and steaming. If your indoor air quality is poor or your children have allergies or other respiratory difficulties, a HEPA filter will capture dust particles as small as 0.3 microns. Mold is another health hazard that can cause everything from itchy eyes to sneezing and respiratory problems. If you do find significant mold in the home, consider a professional deep cleaning. Ventilation and exhaust fans can also help reduce humidity levels in the home. Frequent washing of items such as kitchen towels is also important. A Kansas State University study found that these towels actually top the contamination hazards list in most homes; towels should be washed daily to prevent the spread of food-borne pathogens.

Reducing Your Use of Plastic

Plastics are a major environmental problem for our seas and oceans, but they can also prove to be a health hazard for children. Although most plastic containers are labelled ‘mircrowave safe’, experts warn that they can contain chemicals that migrate into food. In addition to storing food in glass instead of plastic, aim to rely on fresh and frozen foods to reduce your kids’ exposure to BPA – a chemical used to line beverage cans. Avoid plastic and vinyl in toys, curtains, and other items your kids could potentially be in close contact with.

Each home poses its own hazards to our family’s health, so it is important to take a good look at your home to identify potential flaws to be fixed. These can include open storage of toxic items, a proliferation of plastic, or high carbon monoxide levels. Eliminate these risks one by one and try to embrace a natural cleaning routine that shuns toxic cleaning products in favor of steam vacuuming, powerful essential oils, and other natural products that can be just as efficient when it comes to keeping germs at bay.

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