Family Safety is Key

Jan 8, 2024, 11:11 AM by Department of Pediatrics


Families, for better or worse, are important in human development.  There is a strong association between strong, healthy families and the happiness and well-being of their children. The holiday season is a wonderful time for families to gather together and share their caring, their history, their traditions, and their family recipes.  

While a significant portion of children live with their grandparent (>10%), many do not.  It becomes critical that preparing for the holidays even with only a brief visit to grandparents or other relatives that some serious thought needs to be given to “childproofing” the house.  When visiting any home with young children who are incredibly busy and curious, grandparents’ home may offer more opportunities for mishaps. has some suggestions for a checklist to secure a safer environment in any home.  As children will put anything in their mouths, it is important to store pills, inhalers, and other prescriptions out of reach. Move medicines in purses or at the bedside securely out of reach.   Pets, pet food and pet medicines should be stored out of a child’s reach.  (This is for the safety of both the child and the pet.) Unsafe cleansers and chemicals need to be moved to cabinets with safety locks completely out of reach.  Be careful of leaving alcoholic drinks in easy reach of children at the same party.

Outlet covers that are not a choking hazard should be placed over sockets to help reduce the risk of electric shock. Remove any dangling cords from things such as coffee pots and toasters.  Charger cables are everywhere. Furniture and other objects can be used to block access to wiring whenever possible. 

Be aware that all microwaves are not childproof.  Children could take liquids/solids from a microwave that is warm on the outside but dangerously hot inside.  This can cause serious burns.

Soft covers or bumpers should be positioned around sharp or solid furniture.  Televisions and chest of drawers can be pulled over on a climbing child causing serious injury or death.  Gates should be positions at the top and bottom of the stairs.  Do not use mobile baby walkers.  Never leave a child unattended in a tub or sink filled with water.

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in the proper locations throughout the house.  Escape plan should be thought out in advance (for home and for grandparents’ home) and fire extinguishers should be readily available.

All transportation should be done with appropriate car seats correctly installed.

All guns should be unloaded and locked. 

Try to stick to your usual routines, including sleep schedules and naptimes, to help both the child and the parent to enjoy the holiday and to reduce stress.

All important phone numbers should be kept in your mobile device and a list posted somewhere prominently.  In emergency you’ll want to call not only 911 but also certain specific family members.  Remember your “ICE (in case of emergency)” in your own phone.

Have fun, be safe.

by Sally Robinson, MD Clinical Professor
Keeping Kids Healthy
Published 12/2023

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