Curious about fall safety for kids? Taking some simple precautions at home and on the go can help reduce your child's risk of falling.By Mayo Clinic Staff
Every parent knows how hard it is to protect a child from injuries related to falling. When a baby first learns to walk, preventing falls requires constant supervision. Later, a toddler might tumble during a covert ascent to the cookie jar and an older child might slip while rocketing up a flight of hardwood stairs in socks. Still, there's plenty you can do to promote fall safety for kids.
At home, fall safety for kids hinges on basic precautions. Follow these simple tips:
- Beware of heights. Never leave a baby alone on a bed, changing table or piece of furniture. Use the safety strap on highchairs and other infant seats. Don't allow a young child to play alone on a fire escape, high porch or balcony. Safety netting also might help prevent falls.
- Keep stairs safe. Make sure stairs have handrails on both sides that go from the top step to the bottom step. Keep stairs clear of clutter and well-lit.
- Install safety gates. Block a toddler's access to stairs with safety gates. If you're putting a safety gate at the top of a staircase, attach it to the wall.
- Keep windows locked and guards in place. A young child might squeeze through a window opened as little as 6 inches (15.2 centimeters). Although all windows that open should have guards or screens, screens alone aren't strong enough to keep a child inside. Discourage play near windows, which could lead to a fall through glass. Don't store or display anything a child could climb near a window.
- Prevent access to extension cords and ladders. It's easy to trip on extension cords. Store ladders on their sides in a shed or garage.
- Address slippery or uneven surfaces. Use a rubber pad in the bathtub to help prevent slipping and clean kitchen spills quickly. Use foam carpet padding, double-sided tape or a rubber pad under area rugs to keep them from sliding. Fix chipped or broken steps and walkways as soon as possible.
- Avoid baby walkers. A young child using a baby walker might trip and fall over or fall down the stairs while using a walker. Instead, consider using a stationary activity center.
- Use night lights. Consider using them in your child's bedroom, the bathroom and hallways to prevent falls at night.
Despite your best attempts to promote child safety at home, falls are still possible. To reduce the risk of injury, cover sharp furniture and fireplace corners with corner or edge bumpers.
When you're out and about, continue to keep fall safety for kids in mind:
- Fasten safety belts. Always strap children into car seats, strollers and shopping cart seats. Never leave your child unattended in a shopping cart or allow him or her to stand up or ride in the basket of the cart — which could tip over.
- Examine playgrounds. Under play equipment, look for surfaces made of wood chips, sand, mulch or shredded rubber. Try to remove tripping hazards, such as rocks, and steer your child to age-appropriate activities.
- Beware of escalators. Avoid bringing strollers onto escalators. Always carry your child or hold his or her hand as you ride, and watch for dangling clothing.
- Watch for slippery surfaces. Encourage your child to approach wet, dark and paved areas with caution in cold temperatures. Make sure your child wears shoes or boots with traction in bad weather. A heavy or bulky coat can provide cushioning in the event of a fall. Also, avoid carrying a child while walking on slippery surface.
Keeping your child safe from falls takes more than luck. Follow these precautions, and you'll go a long way toward preventing injuries.
Apr. 12, 2014
- Protect the ones you love: Child injuries are preventable. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/SafeChild/Falls/. Accessed Nov. 22, 2013.
- Childproofing your home: 12 safety devices to protect your children. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Guides/Kids-and-Babies/Childproofing-Your-Home--12-Safety-Devices-To-Protect-Your-Children/. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. Policy statement: Shopping cart-related injuries to children. Pediatrics. 2006;118:825.
- Playground safety guide. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00313. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Gill AC, et al. Prevention of falls in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 22, 2013.
- Shelov SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2009:249.
- Falls. Home Safety Council. http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/Pages/Falls.aspx. Accessed Nov. 22, 2013.
- Know the steps to safety when using escalators; some shoes more likely than others to pose risk. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/2008/Know-the-Steps-to-Safety-When-Using-EscalatorsSome-shoes-more-likely-than-others-to-pose-risk/. Accessed Nov. 22, 2013.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 22, 2013.