Marilyn Lopes
Extension Specialist, Family Life Education
Cape Cod Cooperative Extension
University of Massachusetts

Copyright/Access Information

November is Child Safety and Protection Month! Learning to foresee accidents is the best way to prevent them. Child-proofing your home can reduce the risk of injury to children.

Check your safety knowledge with the following quiz:

1. True or false: Safety caps on drug containers are childproof.

2. Which of these foods are often responsible for childhood choking? (a) hot dogs, (b) hard candies, (c) grapes, (d) nuts.

3. In recent years, the use of car safety seats for children has (a) dropped slightly, (b) stayed the same, (c) increased slightly, (d) risen dramatically.

4. True or false: An infant car seat should be used in the front seat so you can keep an eye on the child.

5. True or false: If your car does not have shoulder straps in the rear seat, or if the shoulder strap crosses over the neck or face of your four-year old, it is better to let him ride with no seat belt.

6. What type of home exercise equipment injures the most children? (a) rowing machines, (b) weights, (c) stationary bicycles, (d) cross-country ski machines.

7. True or false: Touching a hot stove is the leading cause of childhood burns.

8. Why are five-gallon plastic buckets, which originally contained paint, food, or other supplies, a danger to infants? (a) infants can be strangled by the handles, (b) they can eat the toxic materials in them, (c) they can drown in them.


1. (false) Safety caps are merely child-resistant, not childproof – a toddler can often open a safety cap within 10 minutes – the cap is just a delaying tactic.

Tips: It's vital to keep drugs, even those with safety caps, out of the reach of children. Better yet, keep drugs out of sight and/or locked up.

2. (all – hot dogs, hard candies, grapes, nuts) These four foods cause more than 40% of all childhood choking deaths. Until toddlers have all their teeth and are able to chew their food well, they are inclined to swallow such foods whole. That can block a child's narrow airway and cause choking, a particular problem because of a child's underdeveloped ability to cough up obstructing foods.

Tips: Don't give young children small foods like grapes or nuts. Cut up solid foods in small pieces, and serve them in small quantities. Encourage children under five to chew vigorously; monitor their eating sessions. Don't let them eat while talking, running, or lying down. Don't let children toss or pour food into their mouths.

3. (d – risen dramatically) But car crashes remain the leading cause of death for kids under age five. Eighty-four percent of one- to four-year-olds and 83% of infants used safety seats in 1990. Use of child safety seats reduces the likelihood of fatal injury in a crash by 69% for infants and by 47% for children aged one to four, according to federal estimates. All 50 states have enacted child safety seat laws.

Tip: Don't think that it's ever safe to hold an infant when riding in a car – in a collision, the child is likely to fly out of your arms or be crushed against the dashboard.

4. (false) It is much safer to buckle an infant car seat into the rear seat.

Tip: Above all, do not use the infant seat in the front seat of a new car equipped with a passenger-side air bag since the deployed bag can seriously injure the infant by striking the back of the safety seat (which is designed to face the rear), according to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration.

5. (false) Any belt is better than no belt – for a child as well as an adult.

Tip: Use a booster seat for a child age four to eight and weighing 40 to 65 pounds who has outgrown his infant safety seat. If your rear seat has shoulder straps, you can buy the kind of booster seat that raises your child so that the shoulder strap crosses his chest, not neck. If the rear seat has only lap belts, choose a booster seat that has a harness or shield, which will act as a torso restrainer.

6. (c – stationary bicycles) As more and more people buy exercise equipment, doctors are seeing a dramatic rise in the number of related injuries to young children. Stationary bikes injure thousands of kids each year, with more than a third of them suffering hand or finger injuries.

Tip: Don't let young children use or play with exercise equipment without supervision.

7. (false) Hot liquids are the leading cause of nonfatal burns. Kids have thinner skin and thus are severely scalded at lower temperatures than adults. Water at 140 degrees F. will cause a serious burn in three seconds; even at 130 degrees F. it can produce a burn in 30 seconds.

Tip: Set the thermostat on your water heater at 120-125 degrees F.

8. (c – they can drown in them) Each year about 50 infants drown in American homes after falling head-first into these large buckets (often kept for household use) while the bucket is filled with water or other liquids and left unattended.

 If you have young children, do not leave these buckets around the house – and never leave even a small amount of liquid in them.

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