Childproofing Your Home to Keep Kids Safe

Cinthia Vega discusses various ways to childproof a home to keep kids safe from common household dangers.
Childproofing Your Home to Keep Kids Safe
Featured Speaker:
Cinthia Vega, B.S., CPSTI, CHW
Cinthia Vega is an Injury Prevention Program Coordinator and Certified Child Passenger Safety Instructor at Children's Health. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health from Texas A&M University. Her areas of interest include child passenger safety, research and creating new content.

Bill Klaproth: You're listening to Children's Health Checkup, where we answer parent's most common questions about raising healthy and happy kids. I'm Bill Klaproth, and on this episode we'll talk about ways to childproof your home to keep kids safe from common dangers. We'll also talk about why it's important and areas of the house that pose the most risk with our expert, Cynthia Vega, Injury Prevention Program Coordinator at Children's Health. Cynthia, thank you so much for your time. So why is it important for families to childproof their home?

Cynthia Vega: Children should feel safe at home, whether they're playing or relaxing , but the truth is that accidental injuries is the leading cause of death and kids up to 14 years old. And what is shocking is the more than a third of this injuries happen right at home. So it's really important for us to start taking a step back and actually childproofing our homes to prevent any of these injuries from happening.

Host: And since children grow and change rapidly, I imagine that causes risk factors to constantly change too, what's the best way to identify risk factors based off of your child's age?

Cynthia Vega: It is really important in order for it. Parents would keep them safe to experience the world from their child’s point of view. And the best way to do that is to get at child’s eye site level, even down on their hands and knees if they must, and go around the house looking for things that either can be attractive and can be dangerous for those kids. And parents will be surprised at how many things they will find either underneath their couches, on their tables, that they've never noticed before.

Host: And we know how kids will get into things and find things, that's for sure. So let's talk about some of the things around the home that pose the most risk for children and how parents can help make them safe. So let's start with bath safety.

Cynthia Vega: Yes. In the bathroom what we're more concerned about is access to the water. Either it can be in the toilet or it can be while children are taken a bath, it child can drown in one inch of water and that's all it takes in a matter of seconds. So what we recommend is for parents to use toilet locks. And to stay within arm's reach of their children when they're taking their bath and never ever, ever leave him alone for a second just because that one phone call that you might take, it might take five, six minutes. And that can be the difference between a child injury or not be in injured. The other thing that we're concerned about is a lot of parents use store medicines, have their makeup and their cleaning supplies in the bathrooms. So we did recommends to keep all those chemicals either locked up and out of reach of the children so they won't get access to toxic chemicals.

Host: So you mentioned potential drowning in bathtubs, what about pools and barriers for pools?

Cynthia Vega: Yes. Almost all the children that drown in North Texas last year were not swimming at the time of the event, but they did wonder outside of their home or fell into the pool while they were playing. So it is really important that if you have a home pool to consider having multiple layers of protection to keep your children safe at home. And the first and most important is to have a non claimable fence with a cellblock and gate around the pool. And this is just to deter children from gaining access to the pool, parents can even install an alarm for any doors or windows leading to the pool. And we also want to make sure that all the doors and windows leading to the pool are locked to prevent small children from wandering out when an adult is not present.

Host: Some really important tips there. So let's talk about sleep and safe sleeping spaces.

Cynthia Vega: Yeah. And this is especially important for those babies under a year old. We just want to make sure they're sleeping in the right environment as their highest risk of suffering suffocation when it comes to sleep. So I do recommend that for every nap and never sleep for parents to practice the ABCs of sleep. Either the child must be alone on their back and in a crib, or an approved sleeping surface, either it can be a bassinet and it can be a pack 'n play. We do encourage parents to share the same room with the baby but not share the same bed, this increases the risk of suffocation. It is never ever okay to put a baby to nap or sleep alone on a couch and adult bed or chair or even in a car seat. Even falls from these surfaces can come with injuries to the baby. So we just want to prevent either those babies falling from this surfaces or getting injured.

Host: I know this can be kind of a touchy subject, but what about gun safety and what about guns in friends' homes?

Cynthia Vega: Yes, and I know many houses now, a lot of parents do have guns at their homes. So it is really important that if they do have it gun to keep it unloaded at all times, locked in the safe space, either it can be with the guns safe what she does, what we recommend. And with a combination code that child cannot gain access. We do recommend that the ammunition be stored in a different space that is not together with a gun. And we do need to teach children what to do if they do come across a gun, which is for them to stop. Ask them not to touch the gun, walk away and then go to an adult if they do see the gun. Also a lot of our kids might be going over to a friend's house sleeping over, so it is perfectly okay to ask parents of that friend about guns. It's okay to ask them, do you have any guns at home? And what are you doing? How do you store them? And I know it's a sensitive topic, right? But it's just to prevent any injuries from happening when you're not with your child at other friends' houses.

Host: Yes. It's always a good idea to ask and know. So how about important storage spaces? I'm thinking about alcohol, cleaning supplies, medicines, vitamins, how about those important storage areas?

Cynthia Vega: Almost 90% of childhood poisonings happen in the home, so it is really important for parents to know where the dangers are and safeguard against them. We do encourage for parents to either look at their bathroom and I know that the kitchen is another place where a lot of parents do store cleaning supplies. A lot of this household products have chemicals that come in bright color packaging or in bright colors. They might look like candy and a child may not be able to differentiate them from candy and other treats. So it is really important for parents to keep all those cleaning supplies and medication in their original containers. And I know a lot of parents buy cleaning supplies in bulk, so just keeping them in the same containers, never transfer them to their empty bottles or anything like that because that's how children can gain access and poison themselves.

Also we encourage parents to use inexpensive cabinet locks at all times and if they're not able to purchase these cabinet locks to put all of those cleaning supplies, cosmetics, medicine, anything that has chemicals up and out of the way and out of the child's site in order for them not to get any access. Parents do notice that the child consumed any chemicals they should call the poison control number immediately, even before calling 911, just because they have nurses, toxicologist, pharmacists that will get the information that the pairing mean faster than calling 911. So I do encourage for parents to save the poison control number right on their phone. So they'll have access right to it. And that number will be 1-800-222-1222.

Host: And that number, once again, +1 800-222-1222. So when it comes to safety, how about windows? What should we know about that?

Cynthia Vega: Windows, what we worry most is fall from high height, such as out of a second story window or even down the stairs if parents have a second story house. So while we do encourage parents to install window locks or window guards to keep children safe, those mosquitoes screens or insect screens are not strong enough to keep children inside. We also recommend for a baby gate to be put either at both the top and the bottom of the stairs to permit any of those falls. And to also keep furniture away from the windows. Kids are very curious. They like to climb. They see furniture as a playground. So in order for them not to gain access to that window, just try to keep furniture away from it.

Host:  So tell us about furniture and TVs and how to keep our kids safe.

Cynthia Vega: Well, we do recommend it for parents to keep those TVs, especially the flat screen TVs mounted on the wall. Or if they're not able to Mount it on the wall, she to keep the TVs low on wide bases and secure them to the wall with either tethers to prevent any topple from happening. Those are really, really dangerous and can come with really bad consequences for the children. Also even a fall from the couch and the bed if the child is jumping can come with serious injuries. So we do recommend for parents not to allow their children to jump on their couches and their beds because they can get seriously injured.

Host: And then last but not least, how about the kitchen?

Cynthia Vega: Kitchen is a place that is often missed by a lot, but it's a place where we can make a lot of memories as a family. Right? So while we are more concerned about is burns, so what we encourage for parents to when they're cooking to turn the pot handles inward when they are cooking and if possible to use the back burners to cook. A lot of kids are really curious, especially those little ones. And if they see something that smells good or they see a cup of coffee, they might not even know that it's hot or cold and they can get burned that way. So just make sure to keep all the hot stuff away. And to also supervise kids when they, when they're cooking.  But we do encourage for parents not to leave them alone and be right there with them when they're cooking.

Host: What great tips. Cynthia, thank you so much for this very thorough list on how we should childproof our homes. Thank you again.

Cynthia Vega: Thank you so much for having me.

Host: That's Cynthia Vega. And for more information, please visit And if you found this podcast helpful, please rate and review or share this episode and please follow Children's Health and your social channels. This is Children's Health. Checkup, a podcast from Children's Health. Thanks for listening.