Child Safety Experts Discusses the Best Ways to Prevent Accidents in Your Home
Lifestyle Xza Higgins, blogger and CEO of MommyCon and Sheila Gailen, Manager of Safety Compliance for Hangman Products, talk preventing accidents in the home and the safest products for traveling in the holiday season.
What are some of the most common misconceptions when it comes to child-proofing a home?
Sheila Gallien: Parents often forget to look up when identifying dangers for children. As the parent of an infant, it’s easy to think a child sees only what is at their level, until, overnight, that child sees new conquests often to the top of towering cabinets. Your little one, who could barely push up last week, can suddenly climb a dresser in search of a TV remote or a beloved toy. So, think bigger and higher when you childproof.
When should parents start to worry about issues such TV and furniture tip-overs? What are the best ways to prevent these accidents?
SG: In the U.S. alone, a child dies every two weeks from tip-over related accidents. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cites 30,000 additional injuries each year beginning as young as one month old. Start your child-proofing now. The main categories for accidents are falling televisions, bureaus and chests. The safest place for a TV is on the wall, if possible. If not, anchor with a restraint. Never put a TV on a child’s dresser. All dressers, bureaus and cabinets should be anchored to the wall with an anti-tip restraint.
Can you share your tips for parents looking to make sure their house is safe for children of all ages?
SG: Tip-over prevention should happen at the same time as covering wall sockets and blocking stairs, then be monitored as children grow older and more mobile. Tip-over accidents are wholly preventable. When mounting televisions, check for safety devices to restrict dislodging, and make sure cords are covered and secured to prevent climbing. Keep remotes out of view to avoid temptation. If mounting is not possible, use an anchoring device. Choose a device that will not erode or deteriorate as your children grow and others arrive. Make sure to install into a stud and into a hard wood part of the furniture. This may involve drilling through a lighter weight back on less expensive furniture.
How can parents ensure safety during the holidays?
SG: Don’t assume there is safety in numbers, or that older children are immune to tip-over dangers. Nearly half of all tip-over injuries occur in bedrooms. Around the holidays, younger and older children may play together out of sight of parents. Note that 85% of fatalities affect children aged one month to 14 years. In these mixed environments, anchoring is more important than ever. A small percentage of tip-over fatalities also result from tipping appliances, especially stoves. Make sure young children are never alone in the kitchen, especially when interesting things are in the oven.
What inspired you to become an online presence and voice for other mothers?
Xza Higgins: I am passionate about connecting families to share our parenting journeys. I felt lost when I became a new parent. There were so many products, there was so much to research, and there was conflicting information everywhere I looked. Creating events to connect families in-person was the way I thought we could sift through all the information in a way that would resonate with all families.
You have two children. Can you tell us a little more about them?
XH: My two children have changed my life in so many ways. My son Atticus is turning six and is on the autism spectrum. He is such a light in my life. His enthusiasm for trains and figuring things out always amazes me. My two-year-old daughter, Luella, is a talkative tot who loves to explore and play with everything pink and purple.
When it comes to product safety for children, there is a lot to consider. What do you look for when choosing the safest and most effective products for your children, specifically products for traveling (car seats, booster seats, strollers etc.)?
XH: We have tried countless car seats and strollers for our children. My kids currently use the following seats: Clek Foonf rear-facing [for my daughter] and a Diono Ranier forward facing for my son. When traveling we use a Britax Advocate rear-facing and the Mi-Fold. We made these choices based off of consumer ratings, manufacturer testing and what fit into our lifestyle.
How can parents ensure child safety during the holiday season?
XH: Follow manufacturer’s directions. If there is a warning that the product isn't suitable for children under three, don't give it to your one-year-old. I oftentimes see parents not follow the directions and then have to deal with unfortunate accidents.
What is your best advice for busy mothers who are balancing work, and raising a family?
XH: You are doing the best you can in that moment. Don't be too hard on yourself, and try to delegate responsibilities to all adults involved.
You are a promoter of gentle parenting. What does that mean to you, and how do you practice that?
XH: Gentle parenting can be tough to channel at times, but it's the best thing I can do for my children. When they are riled up, being calm around them brings them back down to a place where we can live calmly and peacefully together.