News | Published February 7, 2013 | Written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrics, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Top 5 unsafe things in a child's home

A child’s home is supposed to be a safe place, away from all the dangers of this world. Unfortunately, the home can also be a dangerous place if parents don’t take the necessary precautions to keep their kids safe. This also goes for grandparents, babysitters and anyone else who has children in their house.

The following are the top five dangerous items that should either be removed from the home or dealt with in a planned, safe way.

  1. Firearms: Adolescent suicide and gun violence are often in the news, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly two million children live in homes with loaded guns that are not locked up. Simply removing guns from the home is one of the best ways to protect children and teens from gun deaths. If removing the firearms from the house is not an option, they should be stored unloaded in a locked cabinet, with keys or combinations made inaccessible to children
  2. Poisons: Based on statistics from the CDC, over 300 children in the United States are treated for poisoning each year in an emergency department, and two children die every day as a result of being poisoned. Keep toxic products in their original packaging and stored where children can’t see or get them. Put the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ (AAPCC) phone number, 1.800.222.1222, on or near every telephone in your home, and program it into your cell phone. Call that number if you think a child who is still awake and alert has been poisoned; the AAPCC can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and your child has collapsed or is not breathing.
  3. Trampolines: According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), almost 98,000 trampoline-related injuries occurred in the United States in 2009, resulting in 3,100 hospitalizations. Approximately 75 percent of trampoline injuries occur when multiple people are jumping on the mat. Common injuries include sprains, strains and contusions. Falls from a trampoline accounted for 27 to 39 percent of all injuries and can potentially be catastrophic. Many injuries have occurred even with adult supervision, so it’s just best to just not to allow your children to use a trampoline.  
  4. Prescription Drugs: More than 60,000 young children are seen in an emergency department each year because they got into medicines while their parents or caregivers were not looking. In order to protect your kids, follow these tips:
  • Safely dispose of unused, unneeded or expired prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements. To dispose of medicines, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw them away. You can also turn them in at a local take-back program or during National Drug Take-Back events.
  • Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it. This may make them more likely to put another person’s medicine in their mouth and ingest something they shouldn’t.
  • Secure the child safety cap completely every time you use medicines and put them away and out of sight in a cabinet where a child cannot reach them.
  1. Water: Drowning is the leading cause of injury and death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning. This can happen in swimming pools, natural bodies of water and even bathtubs and large buckets of water. Inside the house, supervising your kids around water is the most important way to try to keep them safe. Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, talking on the phone and using alcohol or drugs. If you have a backyard swimming pool, make sure it is fenced off with self-closing and self-latching gates. Additionally, I would encourage parents to get their children involved in swimming lessons at a young age to help keep them safer around the water.

For more information on how to keep children safe, visit or sign up for my Parents Need to Know newsletter to receive monthly tips and news to help keep children healthy.

Information for this posting came from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


About the Author

Craig Collison, MD, pediatrics, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Craig H. Collison, MD, is a pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group. He treats patients from the Physician Group's Boalsburg and Bellefonte locations. Read more about pediatric care at

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