Family Safety Check

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Grown Ups:

Did you know that the number one health risk for America's kids ages 14 and under isn't violence, drugs, or disease? It's injuries. Each year, nearly 6,700 kids ages 14 and under are killed from unintentional injuries and over 6 million suffer from non-fatal injuries. Fortunately, you can help protect your family from these needless tragedies with simple steps like the ones listed below.

Childproof your home:

  • Get down on your hands and knees, and check for small things children can choke on.
  • Use the back burners on stoves, and turn pot handles to the back. Keep children away from the stove or microwave when cooking, and don't serve hot food or drinks to them.
  • Cover electrical outlets that are not in use.

Traffic Injuries:

  • Every person on every ride must use a car seat, booster seat or safety belt that's right for his or her weight and height.
  • Use a safety seat until your child outgrows it (through age 4 and 40 pounds). When your child is 40 to 80 pounds, use a booster seat.
  • All children under age 13 ride in a back seat.
  • Follow manufacturers' instructions for car seats, booster seats and vehicle safety at all times.
  • Wear bike helmets properly. A helmet should sit on top of your head in a level position and should not rock back and forth or from side to side. Always fasten the safety strap.
  • Teach children to stop at the curb or edge of the road, and to look left, right, and left again for traffic before and while crossing the street.


  • Install four-sided, five-foot high fencing with a self-closing and self-latching gate around your pool or spa. Use personal flotation devices in open bodies of water.
  • Be aware that drownings can also happen in bathtubs, buckets, and toilet bowls.
  • Never leave the room while children are bathing.

Fire and Burns:

  • Install smoke detectors in sleeping areas and on every level of your home. Test batteries once a month. Replace batteries yearly.
  • Keep hot foods and drinks away from kids. Keep the hot water heater at low-medium or less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix hot and cold water in the bathtub, and test it on your forearm before putting children into the tub. Consider installing anti-scald plumbing.
  • Lock up matches, lighters and gasoline.
  • Never put electrical cords under rugs.
  • Keep space heaters where kids can't reach them and far away from curtains, beds and papers.

Firearm Injuries:

  • Keep guns locked, unloaded and where kids can't reach them.
  • Lock and store bullets in a separate location.


  • Keep furniture away from windows. Install guards or stops on windows that are not emergency exits.
  • Ensure playgrounds have safe equipment and cushioned surfaces.
  • Install safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Never use baby walkers.


  • Lock up potential poisons out of children's reach, including cleaning supplies, pet food, medicine, vitamins, beer, wine and liquor.
  • Read labels and follow directions when giving medicine to children.
  • Know which houseplants are poisonous and keep them where children can't reach them.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and test them every month.
  • Make sure heating systems are vented outside and checked every year.

Emergency Response:

  • Keep emergency numbers by every telephone. Call 911 if a child is choking, collapses, can't breathe or is having a seizure.
  • If you suspect a child has been poisoned, call 1-800-222-1222.

For more information, contact

Jason Kerkman, MPH
Injury Prevention Program/Safe Kids Coordinator
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
301 Centennial Mall South, PO Box 95026
Lincoln, NE 68509
402-471-2101 or 1-800-745-9311
402-471-6446 fax

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