Comprehensive Children's Injury Center
Injury Prevention Tips | Home Safety

Tips for Keeping Children Safe in the Home

Your home is a place to relax, play, and be with family. But there can be areas of potential danger, such as carbon monoxide, fire, and fall hazards. In addition, young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that's where they spend most of their time. Supervision is the best way to prevent injuries, while in the home and outside.

Here are some simple ways to help prevent injuries in your own home.

  • From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
  • Actively supervise your children at all times around water, and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency.
  • Always keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult when he or she is in or near the bathtub, toilet, pools, spas or buckets.
  • Never leave your child alone or in the care of older children during bath time.
  • Set your hot water heater at 120 degrees or lower to prevent burns.
  • Immediately empty bathtubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools after use. Store them upside down so they don’t collect water.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks.
  • Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  • Make sure your pool has four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. In addition, hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
  • Do not use inflatable toys as substitutions for approved life vests.
  • Even children who know how to swim need supervision. Stay within easy reach and watch your children at all times.
  • Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills that may help you save a life.
  • To prevent accidental scald burns, set your water heater to 120 degrees or lower to avoid burns.
  • NEVER carry or handle hot liquids while holding or carrying your child.
  • Place hot foods and liquids on the center of the table.
  • Kids love to reach, use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge. 
  • Place matches and lighters out of children’s reach and avoid lighters that look like toys.
  • Cover unused electrical outlets.
  • Always supervise young children in the kitchen and around electrical appliances and outlets.
  • Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) are burned.
  • Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms will alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide in your home. Install an alarm near all the sleeping areas or gas sources in your home. Test the alarms regularly.
  • Never leave a car running in the garage, even if the garage door is open.
  • To avoid choking, always supervise young children while they are eating and keep small objects that are potential choking hazards out of their reach .
  • Do not allow children under age 3 to eat small, round or hard foods, including small pieces of hot dogs, cheese sticks/chunks, hard candy, nuts, grapes and popcorn. Other hazardous food items include raw vegetables, jellybeans, raw unpeeled fruit slices, dried fruits, grapes or chunks of meat.
  • Cut foods into small pieces and give infants soft foods that they do not need to chew.
  • Do not let your child eat or suck on anything like candy while lying down or playing. Have children sit in a high chair or at a table while they eat.
  • Get on the floor on your hands and knees, so that you are at your child's eye level. Look for and remove small items such as jewelry, coins, buttons, pins, nails and stones.
  • Children should play with safe and age-appropriate toys, as indicated by choking hazard safety labels. Toys that are labeled for children 3 years and older should be kept away from children under age 3. These toys may have small parts and could cause choking if placed in the mouth.
  • Regularly check toys for damage that may have created loose small parts. Damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away immediately.

Children ages 4 and under, especially under age 1, are at greatest risk for all forms of airway obstruction injury. Children ages 4 and under are almost 25 times more likely to experience a suffocation death than children between 5 and 14 years of age.

  • Safety gates should be used to keep children away from all stairs and out of rooms with hazards.
    •  Not all gates are safe to use at the top of stairs. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels to make sure you have the right gate for your needs.
  • Screens are meant to keep bugs out, not children in. Windows should have window guards to keep a child from falling out.
  • Never place furniture that children can climb on like beds and couches in front of windows.
  • Never leave your child unattended on a bed, counter-top or changing table.
  • Keep babies and young kids strapped in when using high chairs, infant carriers, swings or strollers. 
  • Secure bookshelves, TVs, and furniture to the wall using mounts, brackets, braces, anchors or wall straps to prevent tip-overs. 
  • Install smoke alarms inside and outside of every sleeping area and test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Teach children what to do when they hear the sound of the smoke alarm.
    • Crawl low under smoke.
    • Touch doors before opening them; if the door is hot, use another exit.
    • Never go back into a burning building; children should be reminded not to stop or return for anything, such as a toy or to call 9-1-1.
    • Upon leaving the burning building, children whose clothes have caught fire should immediately stop, drop to the ground, and roll back and forth quickly to extinguish the flames.
    • Set up an escape plan that your family can use in the event of a fire.
      • It is a good idea to have multiple escape routes.
      • Practice the escape plans with your children.
  • Never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking, and never leave a child alone while cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire (like dish towels or wooden spoons) away from your stove top.
  • Teach children not to play with matches or lighters.
  • Keep matches, gasoline, lighters, and all other flammable materials locked away and out of children's reach.
  • Keep all portable heaters out of children's reach and at least 3 feet away from flammable objects. Never leave portable heaters on when you go to sleep.
  • Candles and open flames should be kept out of the reach of all children.
  • Teach older children to never use candles in their bedrooms.

Fires resulting from children's play are the leading cause of residential fire-related death and injury among children ages 9 and under.

  • Talk to your children about the dangers of guns, and teach them to stay away from firearms.
  • Don't keep guns in your home.
  • If you do have guns at home, keep them unloaded and make sure they, and the ammunition, are properly locked away in two different areas.
  • Store the keys for the gun and the ammunition in a different area from where you store household keys. Keep the keys out of reach of children.
  • Lock up gun cleaning supplies, which are often poisonous.
  • When handling or cleaning a gun, adults should never leave the gun unattended.
  • Find out if there are guns in other homes where your children spend time. If there are, talk to the adults in that home about taking steps to make sure the guns are not accessible to children.

Your child is at greater risk of being shot by himself, his friends, or a family member than of being injured by an intruder. It is best to keep all guns out of your home. If you choose to keep a gun, store it unloaded and in a locked place, separated from ammunition. 

  • Put the toll-free Poison Control Center Number, 1-800-222-1222, in your cell phone and place near every telephone in your home.
    • The poison control center can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Call the poison control center if you think a child has been poisoned, but they are awake and alert.
    • Call 9-1-1 if you have a poison emergency and your child has collapsed, or is not breathing.
  • Store all household products and cleaning solutions up high in cabinets or in locked cabinets, making them out of children's sight and reach. 
  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers.
  • Put all medicine up and away, out of children’s sight and reach.
  • Never refer to medicine or vitamins as "candy."
  • Be aware of medications that may be in your purses or bags. Place purses and bags in high locations
  • Avoid leaving medicine on a nightstand or dresser.
  • Give children medicines based on their weights and ages, and only use the dispensers that come packaged with children's medications.


  • Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
  • Wedges and positioners should not be used.

Unintentional suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related death among children under 1 year of age. Children 3 months of age or under are at the highest risk of suffocation and strangulation in bed. Make sure your child has their own bed space (e.g. Crib). Children should not sleep in beds or couches with parents, the risk of a parent suffocating the child or rolling on top of them is great.


All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). Before getting a used crib, check to see if it has been recalled . Also, look for the following suffocation and strangulation hazards:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken, or loose parts
  • Loose hardware
  • Cut out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (width of a soda can)
  • Corner post extension over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than 2 fingers width between the sides of the crib and the mattress
  • Drop side latches that could be easily released by your baby

When using any crib :

  • Follow the directions for assembly.
  • Don't try to fix any part of it with tape, wire, a rope, or by putting a broken side up against the wall.

Each year in the United States, 15 to 20 children under the age of 11 die, and nearly 15,000 are injured, because of falls from windows. Window falls tend to occur in low-income neighborhoods with deteriorating housing, unsatisfactory window construction and no air conditioning.

“Window falls are a major cause of injuries and death in children, especially those living in urban areas,” says Wendy Pomerantz, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Cincinnati Children’s.

Children living in apartment buildings fall from windows at five times the rate of children living in other types of homes. The height of the fall, rate of the fall, force of impact and surface on which the child falls influence the severity of injuries. The greater the height of the fall, the higher the death rate.

You can protect your child from window falls by following these tips:

  • Never put a baby’s crib next to a window.
  • Never depend on screens to keep children from falling out of windows. Screens are not designed to prevent falls.
  • Safeguard windows with window guards or window stops. Window guards prevent children from falling out of open windows. Window stops prevent windows from opening more than a few inches. 

Tips for Preventing Falls

  • Children are constantly moving and should always be supervised to make sure they stay safe.
  • It is important to always watch and keep an eye on your child. Turning your head for just a second is enough time for your child to fall and get injured.
  • Never leave your child alone on any high surface, such as a:
    • Changing table
    • Bed
    • Couch or sofa
    • Chair 
  • If you need to do something and can’t hold your child, place him or her in a crib or playpen until you are done.
  • If your home has stairs, install gates at both the top and bottom of the staircases. Gates at the top of the stairs should bolt into the wall for extra safety.
  • Do not use a baby walker. It can fall or tip over and could seriously injure your child.

If Your Child Has a Fall

If your child does have a fall and is not acting normal, seek medical care and call your child’s medical provider right away.