Dawn Gardner, CCIC injury coordinator, works with the Norwood Fire Department to install safety equipment.

Dawn Gardner, CCIC injury coordinator, works with the Norwood Fire Department to install safety equipment.

For many years, the injury prevention program at Cincinnati Children’s focused on car and bike safety.

But protecting children from injury doesn’t end there − which is why the Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center (CCIC) began focusing on a place where many of us are less wary: home.

It may come as a surprise to learn that home is the most common place where children under age 5 are injured. Nationally, home-based injuries are responsible for four visits a year to the emergency department and 2,800 deaths.

The CCIC now offers a hands-on safety program targeted at five neighborhoods with high injury rates: Norwood, Lincoln Heights, Avondale, Price Hill and Over-the-Rhine. 

Responding to this need, the program sends trained CCIC staff and volunteers into homes to check for safety hazards, and to give caregivers information and equipment to help them keep children safer at home. 

Who qualifies for a home visit? Parents, grandparents, babysitters, day care providers − anyone who lives in one of the five neighborhoods and takes care of a child there. 

Baby-Proofing the Home 

Jessica Ramsey lives in Over-the-Rhine and heard about the program from a friend. As a mom to a 6-month-old, she requested help baby-proofing her house. She was impressed by safety options she didn’t have when her 5-year-old was a baby. “The inflatable thing that you put on the tub so the baby doesn’t his head, I had never seen that,’’ she says. The home visitors also gave her a thermometer for testing bath water temperature, doorknob and safety gate. 

Other safety items home visitors install when needed are cabinet locks, electrical socket covers, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, night lights, window locks, anti-slip bath appliques and poison control fridge magnets. 

Partners Make it Possible 

Cincinnati Children’s could not offer this home safety program without support from community partners. Kohl’s has contributed $2.75 million. State Farm Insurance and Messer Construction have made investments. And volunteers from across the community have given their time. This year, Cincinnati Children’s is hosting six Safety Days, where volunteers are trained to do safety checks and install safety equipment. In addition, Norwood firefighters are making home visits in their neighborhood. Once trained, the volunteers make three home visits working in pairs. While one leads the caregiver in a room-by-room safety check, the other installs safety gear. 

They also talk to the families about the ABCs of safe sleep, teaching that babies should sleep alone, on their backs in a crib. If the child does not have safe sleeping space, the CCIC provides a portable Pack ’n Play crib. The program is making a difference.