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Little Kids, Big Dangers

Child safety starts by avoiding these common household hazards

Industrious, curious and adventuresome, children have a way of helping us view life through fresh eyes. They also have a way of being drawn to things that could cause child safety hazards. As parents, it's our job to keep our kiddos out of harm's way.

Jacqueline Corboy, MD, a specialist in pediatric emergency medicine on staff at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago (Lurie Children's) and Northwest Community Hospital (NCH), and site director of the Pediatric Emergency Room at NCH, identifies five hidden household hazards—plus tips on how to keep your child safe.

Hazard: Crib bedding

Keep 'em safe: Soft, pillowy cribs are your enemy. "While pillows, blankets and stuffed animals make a nice presentation, they pose a suffocation risk for your infant who may roll or turn into them and be unable to turn away," Dr. Corboy says. Make sure crib bedding is firm with tight-fitting sheets. Remove blankets, toys and pillows.

Hazard: Window screens

Keep 'em safe: Screens keep bugs out, but they don't keep children in. "Even a young toddler can push a screen with enough force to dislodge it, with often tragic results," Dr. Corboy says. Her advice: Install window gates or window guards and do not place furniture near a window.

Hazard: Medicines

Keep 'em safe: Just because a medication has a "child-resistant" cap doesn't mean your kiddo isn't capable of opening it. "Nothing is childproof unless it is locked up or out of reach," Dr. Corboy says, adding that it's never a good idea to coax your child to take medicine by calling it candy. "Treat medicine as medicine."

Hazard: Water

Keep 'em safe: This summer has been a scorcher—and cool water tempts young children. "Each summer, approximately 300 children under the age of 5 die in drowning incidents," Dr. Corboy says. Her advice: Teach your children about water safety and make sure doors to the outside are not easy to open. Know your children's whereabouts and watch your kids around pools and in the bathtub.

Hazard: The pantry

Keep 'em safe: While you might not give chips and cookies much credit in the battle for child health, chew on this: Obesity now affects one in six children and adolescents in the U.S. Childhood obesity is triple the rate from one generation ago. With back-to-school time upon us, Dr. Corboy reminds parents to pack colorful, healthy fruits and vegetables for snacks and lunches to help fight child obesity.

Beth Adams, MD

Jacqueline Corboy, MD

Medical Site Director of the NCH Pediatric Emergency Room

On staff at Lurie Children's and NCH

  • Board-Certified: Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics
  • Medical School: University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey
  • Internship and Residency: Columbia Presbyterian Babies and Children's Hospital
  • Fellowship: Children's Hospital of Boston

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Last Updated 04/10/2009