Test Your Safety Savvy
Among all the duties you have as a parent — Dr. Mom/Dad, chief potty trainer, chauffeur, meal and snack maven, homework helper, squabble referee, play date scheduler and bread winner — you're the safety police, too. How do you measure up? Take our room-by-room quiz to find out if you're doing enough to protect your kids from accidents and injury.
True or False: It's OK to keep household cleaners under the kitchen sink if they have child-resistant packaging.
Answer: False. Child-resistant packaging isn't childproof. Persistent toddlers may be able to pry them open. Lock household cleaners, any type of liquor, vitamins and medicine, even those with child-resistant packaging, in their original containers in a cabinet out of your child's sight and reach.
True or False: Using a sleep positioner in your baby's crib or bassinet helps protect her from SIDS.
Answer: False. Sleep positioners don't protect babies from SIDS, and they're a suffocation hazard. A bare crib or bassinet is best. That means no sleep positioners, bumpers, blankets, pillows or stuffed animals should be in your baby's crib or bassinet. Dress your baby in a swaddle or sleep sack for warmth instead of using a blanket.
It's safe to let your child sleep in pajamas that aren't flame resistant if:
A. They're made of organic cotton.
B. They're snug-fitting.
C. They're size 9 months or smaller.
D. They're size 10 or larger.
E. Both B and C.
Answer: E, both B and C. Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations dictate that children's sleepwear sizes 9 months to size 14 must be either made of flame-resistant fabric, which doesn't ignite easily and must self-extinguish quickly when removed from a flame, or fit snugly because loose garments are more likely to catch fire. Snug-fitting sleepwear doesn't have to be made of flame-resistant material because it doesn't trap air needed for fabric to burn and reduces the chances of contact with a flame. Infant sleepwear smaller than 9 months is exempt from government flammability requirements because infants aren't mobile enough to expose themselves to an open flame. It doesn't have to fit snugly or be flame resistant.
True or False: By age 5, it's safe for kids to sleep in the top bunk of a bunk bed.
Answer: False. Children shouldn't be allowed to sleep in the top bunk until they're at least 6 years old. But even then, it's a risk. Every year nearly 36,000 children are injured in bunk bed related accidents, according to a recent study in Pediatrics. Kids younger than 9 report the most bunk bed injuries, but they happen at all ages.
Children can get scalded easily by hot water because their skin is thinner than an adult's. To help prevent burns, what's the maximum temperature your home's water heater should be set to if you have kids?
A. 90 degrees F
B. 130 degrees F
C. 120 degrees F
D. 150 degrees F
Answer: C, 120 degrees F. Turn the water heater down to 120 degrees F or lower to prevent scalds from faucets. To test your home's water temperature, run the hot water for a minute and collect it in a cup. Test the temperature with a cooking thermometer. Also, get a cover for the bathtub's spout to protect your child from its heat-conducting metal and hard edges.
Around the House
Children can strangle on window blind cords from draperies or blinds that can form a loop. In fact, window cords kill an average of 12 children annually in the U.S. What should you do to protect your child around window blind cords?
A. Teach your baby or toddler to stay away from window blind cords by warning her of the danger.
B. Eliminate this risk from window blinds by getting cordless blinds or using a cord winder (a plastic gadget that moves the cord out of the way).
C. Cut looped cords in half to form two strings or roll cords up and tie them with rubber bands or twist ties or mount a cleat (hook) high out of the child's reach to secure the excess cord.
D. Both A and B.
E. Both B and C.
Answer: E, both B and C. You can't teach a baby or toddler to stay away from strangulation dangers, so eliminate this risk by getting cordless blinds, using a cord winder, cutting the cords in half or rolling up the cords with a cleat, says Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council in Washington, D.C. You can also visit www.windowcoverings.org to order a free retrofit cord-repair device.
In case of a fire, how old does your child need to be before he can get out of the house by himself?
A. Age 3
B. Age 5
C. Age 10
Answer: B, age 5. "You can't depend on children under age 5 to be able to get out of the house by themselves when the smoke alarm goes off," says Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
So if you have kids under 5, rescuing them first will need to be part of your escape plan, which you and your family should practice twice a year.
Here's the drill for older kids: Set off the smoke alarm so your kids recognize the sound. Teach them to touch their bedroom door with the back of their hand. If it feels hot, they should escape through a window; if it's cool, they can open the door slowly and crawl on their hands and knees to the nearest exit. Then, designate a place outside your home, such as the mailbox or a neighbor's house, to meet and call 911. Tell your kids to never go back into a burning house, for whatever reason, such as to retrieve the family pet.
True or False: If your child is advanced for his age, it's fine to buy a toy that's meant for an older child.
Answer: False. Take the age recommendation on a toy package seriously. It's more than a friendly hint. It can alert you to a possible choking hazard, the presence of small parts and other dangers. It also affects a toy's play value. Although you might think a more advanced toy will present a welcome challenge, it could be a source of frustration if it's inappropriate for your child's stage of development.
Also, think twice before buying a toy with small parts for a child older than 3 who has a younger sibling. The younger child will probably find a way to get the toy. Keep all small round or oval objects, including coins, balls and marbles, away from kids younger than 3.
Sandra Gordon is the author of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products. She also frequently writes about safety for national publications such as ShopSmart and Parents. Visit her baby safety blog at www.babyproductsmom.com.