Children at Risk for Unexpected Dangers at Home

Jozef Dudek was two years old. His father put him down for a nap and assumed he was safe in his room. When Craig Dudek came back to check on his son, he found Jozef underneath an IKEA dresser that had fallen over. Jozef asphyxiated and died.

Earlier this year, IKEA reached a settlement with the Dudek family for $46 million over the death of their son. However, this is not the first death due to an IKEA dresser. At least eight children have been killed by recalled dressers made by the Swedish furniture giant. And they aren’t the only ones. Other companies including Target, Walmart and Amazon have recalled dangerous dressers.

Furniture tip-overs are more frequent than you would think. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that a child dies every two weeks from furniture, television and appliance tip-overs. And heavy furniture isn’t the only perilous item found in the home. As children spend the foreseeable future living, playing and learning at home, keep them safe from these unique risks.

Common Household Dangers

These household dangers lurk in many homes, risking the safety and lives of children:

  • Batteries: Each year more than 2,800 children are treated in the emergency room for swallowing button batteries. These small, coin-sized batteries are found in everything from birthday cards to key fobs to remote controls.
  • Tip-overs: TVs and large furniture can tip over and land on a child if not properly stabilized.
  • Fireplaces: Screens or barriers should always be used to prevent small children from fireplace burns. Remember that glass doors can stay hot for an hour after the fire is out.
  • Liquid laundry packets: Pods and packets can look like candy to a small child. More than 400 children are hospitalized each year after ingesting laundry packets.

Household Safety Checklist

Every house is different. Use this top-to-bottom checklist as a starting point to keep your home a safe haven throughout shelter-in-place social distancing and beyond.

1. Child Bedrooms:

  • Keep curtains and blind cords out of reach.
  • Cribs should have no dangling strings or cords attached to or hanging above them.
  • Keep night-lights away from any fabric that could catch fire.

2. Bathrooms:

  • Keep the toilet seat cover down at all times and consider using a toilet lid latch.
  • Use a nonskid bath mat in the bathtub and on the floor.
  • Keep all medicines, toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning supplies out of a child’s reach. Make sure all medicines have child-resistant caps.
  • Unplug and store hair dryers, curling irons and other electrical appliances out of a child’s reach.

3. Kitchen:

  • Store sharp knives and utensils in a drawer with child-proof locks.
  • Keep cleaning supplies locked or out of a child’s reach.
  • Small appliances should be stored away or at least unplugged when not in use. Tuck away all cords.
  • Store chairs and stools away from counters and the stove to prevent climbing children from injury.

4. Throughout the Home:

  • Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside every bedroom and on every level of the home.
  • Pad sharp edges and corners of tables.
  • Keep houseplants out of reach as some may be poisonous.
  • Make sure TVs, bookshelves, dressers and other heavy furniture are secured with tip-over protection.
  • Place a barrier around fireplaces or other heat sources.
  • Store matches, lighters and candles out of reach.
  • Keep an eye out for any small items a child could choke on. And don’t forget to frequently check in, under and around furniture.
  • Store guns in a secure location, ammunition in a separate secure location.