Falls Prevention for Children
Children are hurt more from falls in the home than any other kind of home accident. Falls cause more than 3 million childhood injuries every year. Look around your home for places your child might fall. Take steps today to make them safer.
Protect Children from Falling on Stairs
- If you have a baby or toddler, install hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of every stairway (pressure-mounted gates aren't as secure).
- When choosing a gate, make sure it has the JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) Certification Seal, which means it has been designed for safety.
- Gates should be attached to banisters or walls with mounting hardware attached to moldings.
- Gates should be mounted no more than 3 ½ inches from the floor to prevent entrapment of children.
- Never use accordion-style gates, which can trap a child's head.
- Always close the gate when you leave the room and never leave the baby unattended.
- Properly install a safety gate at the door of your child's room to prevent the baby from ever even reaching the top of the stairs.
- When your child reaches 10 to 12 months old, teach him or her how to go down stairs backward—your child's only example is you going down forward.
- Do not leave a young child alone near stairs even if you use baby gates.
- Do not allow children to play on stairs, balconies or landings.
- In homes with children, make sure toys and games are not left on steps or landings.
Make Balconies Kid-Safe
- Place a guard on banisters and railings if your child can fit through the rails.
- Acrylic glass sheets such as Plexiglas are recommended for use on indoor balconies, lofts and landings. The material does not shatter and is flexible enough so it curves around a banister and can be easily trimmed to any length with scissors. Attach acrylic glass with cable ties and screws.
Protect Children from Falling out of Windows
- Window screens are not strong enough to prevent a child's fall from a window.
- Install specially designed window guards on upper windows to keep children from falling out of windows.
- Buy window guards that have a quick release mechanism inside the window. This will let you open the window fast in case there is a fire.
- Move furniture away from windows in children's rooms to keep them from getting too close.
- Never leave young children alone near open windows.
Protect Children from Playground Falls
- Accidents can happen the moment your back is turned. Stay with your children the whole time they are playing on backyard play sets.
- Make sure the area under and around the play equipment is covered with soft materials. This will help protect injuries to the brain and bones when children fall.
- Rubber mulch, hardwood chips and pea gravel are best. Grass and dirt under the play set are not safe.
- The soft materials should be nine to 12 inches deep and extend six feet from all sides of play equipment.
- Make sure there is plenty of room between play equipment. For example, climbing equipment should have a “fall zone” of at least six feet in all directions of equipment.
- Keep young children from playing on equipment designed for older children. Children under the age of 6 should not climb higher than 4 feet. Older children should not climb higher than 6 feet.
- Choose solid play equipment and keep it in good shape. Look for signs of rust, chipped paint, cracked or broken parts, etc. Fix them.
- Beware of spaces where your child's head or body could get stuck. A child's head can be trapped in openings between 3.5 and 9 inches wide.
- Older play equipment can have openings that are between 3.5 and 9 inches wide. A child's head or body parts can fit through this space. It is very dangerous because children could be trapped and not be able to breathe.
- Make sure areas where children climb have good walls or railings to keep them from falling.
- Keep the play area clear of things children could trip over – rocks, branches, toys, etc.
- Pull out drawstrings in children's clothes. Make sure your child takes off any necklaces, purses, bicycle helmets and scarves before they play. These things could get caught on something and your child would not be able to breathe.