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FOR RELEASE: September 10, 2002
Give Your Baby a Healthy and Safe Start
Many parents may not realize that the home is one of the most dangerous places for a child. Each year, about 1,900 children ages 14 and under die, and nearly 4.5 million are injured where they should feel safest -- in the home. Most deaths (nearly 70 percent) are among children ages 4 and under, making it crucial for parents to make safety a key issue when preparing a nursery.
“When preparing an entertaining, attractive and loving environment for a baby, parents sometimes forget to take safety into consideration,” said Martha Collar, coordinator, Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Parents should be careful both in the selection of the furniture and decorations, including their arrangement and use.”
In observance of Infant Safety Month this September, SAFE KIDS offers the following information to help make setting up a safe nursery a little easier:
WALLS -- If you live in a house or apartment built before 1978 and the walls are painted, they should be checked for lead by a professional. Your child can get lead poisoning if he or she breathes lead dust or fumes or swallows anything with lead in it. Lead poisoning in children can cause learning disabilities, hyperactivity and other neurological problems. Approximately 1.7 million preschoolers in the U.S. have blood lead levels high enough to affect intelligence and development. If there is lead paint in your home, the paint should be covered with an approved sealant.
FLOORS -- Smooth, washable floors are recommended in nurseries because they are easier to keep clean. If you choose to have wall-to-wall carpeting, select a flat design in a synthetic fiber such as nylon. Thick, bushy carpets -- such as shag -- can hide dirt, food and small objects that can become a choking hazard to your child. If you use area rugs, be sure they have non-skid backings.
THE CRIB -- The most important piece of furniture in any nursery is the crib. It is the place where your baby will spend most of his or her time -- mostly unsupervised.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 50 infants die each year in crib-related incidents. To help prevent your child from being injured in the crib, SAFE KIDS recommends that you remember the following:
THE MATTRESS -- Mattresses must fit snugly against all four sides of the crib. If you can fit more than two fingers between the edge of the mattress and the crib, then the mattress is too small. A baby can suffocate if his or her head is trapped between the mattress and crib. Check regularly to ensure that all four mattress support hangers are securely held in hooks attached to the cornerposts.
Before placing the mattress in the crib, remove and discard all plastic wrappings. Make sure that your child is unable to climb out of the crib when the mattress is in it. The mattress should be at least 26 inches below the top rails of the drop side. If the mattress is any higher than this, an active baby might be able to climb over the rail.
DRESSERS, CHESTS AND CHANGING TABLES -- Whatever type of furniture you plan to purchase or borrow for your nursery, keep the following in mind:
CRIB TOYS AND MOBILES -- Bright and cheerful crib toys and mobiles can provide hours of entertainment for a newborn. However, it is important to keep in mind that some of these items -- including crib gyms that stretch across the crib and suspended toys, music boxes and mirrors specifically marketed for use in the crib -- can be very dangerous. Hanging toys are particularly hazardous for children who can push up on their hands or knees. By using the following tips, you can provide your child with lots of fun and keep him or her safe at the same time:
CHILDPROOF THE ROOM -- It is important that you examine the room closely -- get down on your hands and knees and move around the room. From this angle, you may see several unsafe things that you might have otherwise overlooked. SAFE KIDS recommends the following prevention tips:
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