"More than 18,000 children a year are treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by the use and misuse of common household items like bunk beds, televisions, fridge magnets and backyard swings, according to a new report," wrote André Picard in Bunk beds, TVs causing injuries to children.
"The new report, from Safe Kids Canada, notes that almost half of all pediatric injuries are "product-related," meaning they involve common household items."
Pamela Fuselli, executive director of Safe Kids Canada, was online earlier to take your questions.
Pamela Fuselli was appointed executive diirector in 2008 to oversee all functions of Safe Kids Canada, moving from the director, Programs & Services.
She has been involved in building partnerships with key stakeholders at the community, provincial, national and federal levels and sits on a variety of committees including the Public Health Agency's Public Health Network Injury Prevention & Control Task Group, Canadian Collaborative Centres for Injury Prevention, Safe Communities Program Advisory Committee and the Canadian Injury Prevention and Safety Conference Steering Committee.
Ms. Fuselli has worked in the unintentional injury prevention sector for ten years and prior to that she worked at The Hospital for Sick Children in a variety of capacities and portfolios. She has degrees in psychology from the University of Toronto and in health administration from Ryerson University. She is currently pursuing a degree in Creativity & Change Leadership at Buffalo State.
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Rasha Mourtada, Globe Life web editor: Thank you, Pamela, for joining us today. Can you highlight a couple of common concerns in the home in terms of child safety that may surprise parents? How can we deal with such concerns?
Pamela Fuselli: What parents may be surprised to learn is that there are over 18,000 emergency room visits in Canada each year from child injuries related to the misuse of household products such as magnets, furniture, window blind cords, bunk beds, backyard playground sets and baby bath seats. What we learned in the Safe Kids Canada Harris/Decima survey, is that nearly half of the Canadian parents surveyed (49 per cent) felt children are rarely injured by products and the majority of Canadians (83 per cent), who live with children ages 17 and under, assume products they buy or receive as gifts for children will be safe.
It's important to remember that home product-related injuries are preventable. A simple way for parents to make their home a safe one is to follow the S.A.F.E. acronym:
- See products around your home through the eyes of your child and anticipate how a child might use it differently.
- Ask yourself if the products you purchase are appropriate for your child.
- Find products that follow safety standard seals such as CSA or ASTM when choosing an item for your home.
- Educate yourself on products that have been recalled and contact Health Canada if you have a problem with a product.
Ariel-Ann Lyons from Canada writes: Hi there, A very timely discussion as I have a six month old boy who is just on the verge of crawling. He's extremely active and doesn't yet seem to have much fear. Could you recommend the most important things to baby-proof in a home? I would like to avoid over baby-proofing, but at the same time I would like to provide a safe home environment. Also, would you recommend carpeting stairs that are hardwood? Thank-You.
Pamela Fuselli: At 6 months, babies often fall because their balance is just starting to develop. Also, their heads are bigger and heavier in relation to their bodies. Falls from furniture, such as tables, beds, chairs and couches, are the biggest risk for children ages 0 to 4 years. As soon as your baby can sit up, move his crib mattress to its lowest position. This will help to prevent your baby from falling out of the crib.
Install window stops or guards on windows above the first floor of your house. Window screens do not protect your baby from falling out of windows.
It is also important to make sure that window blind cords are kept out of reach. Babies can become entangled and in some instances strangled because of their fascination with the dangling cords.
The best measure to prevent falls down stairs is to install wall-mounted baby gates at the top of your stairs and pressure-mounted gates at the bottom of your stairs.
It's important to re-evaluate the precautions you've taken for your child every 6 months in relation to their development. Check out the Safe Kids Canada website for more information on what to look out for as your child grows.
Tom from Canada writes: What do you think about the discussion on how parents have become over protective of their children, and that some think children have to have more bumps and scratches to learn
Pamela Fuselli: We're concerned about injuries that are severe, like those that require an emergency room visit, hospitalization or result in death. Not simple bumps and bruises. Children are particularly vulnerable to home product-related injuries which are a leading cause of injury-related death for Canadian children under the age of 14, so it is important for parents to ensure their children are staying safe.
Susannah Biggs from Burlington, Ont, writes: Good afternoon Ms. Fuselli, What are the most often overlooked areas of making a home safe for children? Beyond the installation of safety gadgetry such as safety gates, outlet covers and cupboard locks, are there any other must-have safety measures that you suggest for a child-friendly house? Thanks very much.
Pamela Fuselli: Often products we use in our home everyday, not meant for a child's use, cause injuries. For example, there are 9,000 injuries from toppling furniture every year such as TVs, bookcases, dressers and water coolers. Keep TVs on low sturdy furniture, never on dressers. Use angle brackets and furniture straps to secure furniture to the wall. To prevent children from using dresser drawers as stairs, use child resistant latches. The best thing to do is to see items in your house from your child's perspective and anticipate how your child might use these products. Always ask yourself is this product appropriate for my child to use?
Sarah from Canada writes: Is it unsafe for a child to sleep with a loose necklace on at night?
Pamela Fuselli: Yes, it is a strangulation hazard. Remember to remove and/or cut any cords or drawstrings off children's clothing - most sold in Canada meet this criteria.
SM from Canada writess: My husband is a fanatic when it comes to cleaning with heavy duty products. Is it safe for my small children to breathe the air saturated with all those chemicals after he's gone on a cleaning spree? If you are concerned about cleaning products, contact your local poison control centre and they can advise you on the specific products you are using in your home.