Spring clean safely this season with these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Around the House
- Choose nontoxic products for your spring cleaning. For example, vinegar and water is an inexpensive and effective window cleaning solution.
- Time to move the furniture? Place cribs, playpens and other furniture away from the window and accessible drapery cords. Children can climb up on furniture and fall out of the window or get strangled in the cords.
- Make sure window guards/bars are secure, and know how to open the window in case of fire. Screens do no prevent window falls.
- Test all your smoke alarms to ensure they are working. Change the batteries at least once every year. Most smoke alarms also need "spring cleaning" maintenance – check your manual.
- Develop and practice a family fire escape plan in case of emergency.
- Consider installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
- Make sure small parts, plastic bags, small toys, balloons or any other choking hazards are out of reach of young children, particularly those younger than 36 months of age.
- Check your home for recalled and banned children's products. To find out about recalled products, go to www.recalls.gov.
- Keep traffic areas free of clutter, toys and rugs in order to avoid tripping with your child in your arms.
- Doors that lead to the basement should have a self-latching lock to prevent children from falling down the stairs.
- Post the Poison Help Line number (1-800-222-1222) and your pediatrician's number on all phones.
- Discard toxic and flammable materials you no longer need. Place remaining materials high and out of reach. Keep toxic products in their original containers.
- Check the garage for flammable liquids such as gasoline, paint thinner, paint and cleaners. Make sure safety caps are in place and they are not near any heat sources. Keep only the amount you need to use – don't stock up on extra cans.
- Tidy loose papers, old rags and debris in the garage that could contribute to a fire.
- When washing the car, clean the car safety seat as well – sticky snacks, crumbs and drinks can interfere with the crotch buckle and chest clip. Use the instructions to find out how to remove the cover and clean these parts. Take the time to weigh and measure your children to make sure they still fit in the seat. Check that the shoulder straps are the right height. Be sure the seat is installed securely.
- Choose nontoxic fertilizers, insecticides and gardening supplies.
- Eliminate any standing water to prevent drowning (buckets, drums, baby pools). Remember that a young child can drown in only a few of inches of water.
- Check the play area for sharp objects, poisonous plants and tripping hazards.
- Install surfacing under playground equipment. Check play equipment for loose or exposed hardware, broken parts and stability. Go to www.cpsc.gov for more information.
- If you have a pool or spa, it should be enclosed by a four-sided fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Learn CPR and have a phone and emergency equipment poolside.
- Children must not be allowed to ride as passengers on lawn mowers or to be towed behind mowers in carts or trailers. They should not be permitted to play on or around the mower when it is in use or in storage.
- Most yard cleanup tools (ladders, weed-eaters, pruning shears) are not safe for children. If your child wants to help in the yard, he or she should use tools designed for children, such as a small plastic rake, child's shovel or broom.