Take care to ‘childproof’ your home, car when grandkids are coming for a visit

Grandparents may love their young grandchildren with all their heart, but that doesn’t mean their homes are safe places for the grandchildren to stay unattended.

“People who are grandparents today grew up in a world without car seats, smoke alarms or bike helmets, but also fewer cars on the road and fewer fire hazards in the home,” said Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas coordinator.

“Parents of young children need to let their own parents know that important changes have been made in childcare.”

Accidental injury remains the No. 1 killer of children ages 14 and under, but modern safety devices contributed to a 45-percent drop in accidental child deaths from 1987 to 2002.

A grandparent’s home might not be “childproofed” with safety gates on the stairs, locks on the cabinets, a fence surrounding the pool and all potential poisons-including medicine, cleaning products and alcohol-locked out of reach.

“Before a child comes to visit, a relative who doesn’t have young children at home should look for potential hazards at and below a child’s eye level,” Stegelman said.

“Pick up any small objects that could be a choking hazard, tie the cords of window blinds out of reach and lock up any matches or lighters.”

Safe Kids Kansas offers these reminders for grandparents who baby-sit occasionally:

  • Under Kansas law, all children under 4 years old must ride in a car seat or booster seat whenever they are in a moving car. Bigger kids should stay in a booster seat until they are 4-feet, 9-inches tall and at least 80 pounds.

    Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and don’t hesitate to call the toll-free number if you have any questions. Kids under 13 should always sit in the backseat.

    In a car, always buckle up yourself-your grandchildren learn by watching you.

  • Set your water heater to 120ºF or below to prevent scald burns.
  • Make sure your grandchildren always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter, skateboard or inline skates. For skating and scooters, knee pads are also recommended. (Caregivers need to wear proper safety equipment too-remember, you’re a role model!)
  • If there are firearms in the home, store them unloaded and locked up, and lock the ammunition in a separate place.
  • Keep the number of the Poison Control Center hotline, 800-222-1222, next to every phone in the home.
  • Learn first aid and CPR.
  • In any hazardous setting-on a playground, around pools or water, in the kitchen, near traffic, or near stairs or unlocked windows, for example-children should always be under active supervision, in sight and in reach at all times, with an adult’s undivided attention.

For more information about home safety and childproofing, visit www.safekids.org.

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