Safety Tips For Children and Pets

Surprising Home Dangers

These tips are not meant to scare you. You will get all kinds of advice from relatives and friends, and some of those pieces of “wisdom” will be contradictory. Solve the dilemma of choosing between all those bits of advice by heeding the information included here. I have made a career of keeping children safe and healthy. You can feel certain you are protecting your child if you follow these tips. Enjoy your baby and feel secure about safety.


-Soft objects and loose bedding, including pillows, bumpers, quilts, blankets, comforters, sleep positioners, sheepskins and stuffed toys. Remove these items from baby’s sleep area. Use sleep clothing– such as a one-piece sleeper–with no other covering, as an alternative to loose blankets. For an extra layer, use a wearable blanket or sleep sack.  In fact, the only thing that should be in the crib is a tight-fitting mattress with a sheet that fits securely and the baby. (Remember to always lay babies on their backs to sleep at bedtime and naptime.) Do not use a crib made before June, 28, 2011, because it will not meet current safety standards.)

-Latex balloons. More children have suffocated on uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons than on any other type of toy.  Keep latex balloons away from children under 8 and pets. Choose mylar balloons (shiny, metallic) over latex.

-Latch type clothes dryers, refrigerators and freezers; combination washer-dryer units; iceboxes, file cabinets and storage chests. Suffocation deaths occur in such places when children crawl inside and cannot escape. The best choice for a toy chest is one without a lid or one with a lightweight, removable one.


-Coins, keys, jewelry, paper clips, batteries, water bottle tops, safety pins, removable rubber tips on door stops, jeweled decorations on child’s clothing, firm/ round foods (including small pieces of hot dogs, hard candy, marshmallows, nuts, grapes and popcorn) and crayon pieces.

-Small magnets. High-powered magnet sets (like adult toys) are dangerous and should not be kept in homes with children. Building and play sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children. Today’s magnets are much more powerful than magnets we used to play with as kids. The serious danger is that if a magnet falls out of a toy, it can be swallowed by a child. If more than one magnet is ingested, they can attract inside the body and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage, which can be fatal.  For more information, go to:

-Anything that can fit inside an empty toilet paper tube is a potential choking hazard.


–Button Batteries. When swallowed, these coin size batteries can get stuck in the esophagus (throat). The saliva triggers an electric current which causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours. Lithium batteries can be found in everything in your home. They are used to power remote controls, key fobs, musical greeting cards, flameless candles, calculators, and other electronics. Tape battery compartments closed and keep these objects out of the reach of small children.

-Single-load Laundry Detergent Packets/Pods.  These squishy, brightly colored, small plastic packets can look like candy, juice, or a toy to a young child. And since the detergent is concentrated–it can be especially harmful if ingested.  Each year, nearly 12,000 children younger than 5 years old are exposed to the caustic detergent within the pods. It can take just a few seconds for a child children to swallow the toxic chemicals they contain, or get the chemicals in their eyes. Do not let children handle; Keep LOCKED up high, out of a child’s sight and reach. I recommend not using the pods if your home has children less than 6 years of age, or if anyone in your household is cognitively impaired. Use traditional liquid or powder detergents, which are much less concentrated than laundry packets.

-Antifreeze. The main ingredient in many major antifreeze brands is ethylene glycol, which is very toxic. In the past, antifreeze had a sweet taste that enticed children and pets to drink large amounts of it if it was left out in an open container or if it had spilled in the garage or driveway. In December 2012, all U.S. antifreeze manufacturers voluntarily agreed to add a bittering agent to antifreeze. But bittering agents have never been shown to be effective in actual pediatric poisonings, so be careful to protect children and pets from ingesting antifreeze. Use antifreeze formulated with propylene glycol, which is considerably less toxic.  For more information visit

-Dieffenbachia and Philodendron. These common houseplants contain oxalates, microscopic crystals that get released into the mouth when the plant is chewed, causing extreme pain and inflammation. Parents should purchase only nontoxic plants when they have children under the age of six and pets.

-Metal Jewelry. Not only do these items pose a choking hazard, but in addition, lead and cadmium has been found in inexpensive children’s jewelry.

-Table salt: A little as half a teaspoon to an infant or a tablespoon to a toddler can cause damage to his central nervous system.

-Baby oil. When you swallow baby oil and other hydrocarbons, they can easily go down the wrong way and get into your lungs. Only a small amount can cause pneumonia within a few hours.

-Alcohol.  It can lead to seizures, coma and even death in a young child. (Examples of household products that can contain alcohol: mouthwash, perfumes, colognes, and aftershave, vanilla extract, cough and cold medications and hand sanitizers.)

-E-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine. Poison centers are reporting a recent uptick in calls about exposures to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine. Tiny amounts, whether ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures, or even death. Always keep cigarettes and cigars, e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine locked up and out of the reach of children.

-Sugarless products: Pet owners beware! Sugarless chewing gum and products containing xylitol can be poisonous to pets. Other food items that can be toxic to pets include chocolate and caffeine products (coffee, tea), onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, avocado, macadamia nuts and pork.

-Common household products. Keep all medicines (prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, dietary supplements, cleaning products, grooming products, and other chemicals locked up, out of reach and sight of children at all times. Never leave potentially poisonous products unattended while in use. It takes only seconds for a poisoning to occur.

Whenever you suspect a poisoning, immediately call the Poison Help Line (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), 1-800 222-1222, which automatically connects you to your local poison center. Prominently post this number on your refrigerator and near every phone in the home.  Put this number in your cell phone. ALWAYS CALL THE POISON CENTER FIRST, BEFORE TREATING A POISONING.


-Toys with sharp edges and points and electrical toys with heating elements. Avoid for children under 10.

-Toys that include propelled objects. These can be turned into weapons, so avoid them for children of all ages.

-Arrows and darts. If children play with such items, they should have cork tips, rubber suction cups or other protective tips.

-Hot tap water. Set water heaters no higher than 120°F to reduce the chance of scald burns. (Water that’s 140°F can give a child a third-degree burn in just 3 seconds!) Be aware that 120°F can still burn your baby, so always mix hot water with cold water before it touches your child’s skin. A comfortable bath water temperature for a child is near his own body temperature, 98 to 100°F  Do not exceed a temperature of 100°F.


-Necklace or pacifier tied around a young child’s neck. It can get caught on a crib, play yard or doorknob.

-Corded baby monitors, and other items with cords, strings or ribbons. Keep cords at least 3 feet away from any part of the crib, bassinet, or play yard. the reach of small children.

-Window treatments with cords. Please replace with new cordless window coverings.


-Large and heavy items such as TVs, microwaves, fish tanks, bookcases, heavy furniture and appliances.  Because of the tipping hazard, secure it to a stud in the wall using brackets, braces, anchors or wall straps. If you have a flat screen TV,  make sure it’s properly mounted or anchored to the wall. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for tips or warnings regarding placement of your TV or furniture. Shelves, night stands and dressers are NOT made to support TVs, especially when the drawers are opened.

-Open windows. A child can fall out of a window that is open more than four inches, and screens offer no protection. Install window safety devices on all windows in your home, especially on the second story and above. Use quick-release mechanisms on any windows that are part our your fire-escape plan.


-An inch of water. A child can drown in just one inch of water (such as in buckets, bath tubs, inflatable pools, diaper pails, toilets, hot tubs, and spas). Small children are top-heavy, and they don’t have the upper body strength to lift themselves out of one of these dangerous situations.
·    Never leave a small child unattended in or near water, even for a second.
·    Immediately empty water from a tub, sink, inflatable pool, or container  after it has been used.
·    Install locks on the toilets and store all buckets upside down.
·    Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least 5 feet high and equipped with self-closing and self-latching  gates around a home pool or spa.


-Unsafe Products. If you experience a safety problem with a consumer product or want to search for incident reports, go to  

-Recalled products. When a product is found to pose a threat of injury or death, a recall is issued. To stay current on this matter, contact the CPSC to receive free recall information sent to you by  E-mail, visit

…or call the CPSC at (800) 638-2772. Be sure to also visit–and sign up to receive e-mail recall notifications–at

which lists recalls for six federal agencies, including CPSC, NHTSA and the Food and Drug Administration.



taken from her new book, “The Safe Baby.”
Excerpted, with permission, from The Safe Baby (2018) by Debra
Smiley Holtzman, available wherever books are sold.

-All parents and anyone who provides care for your child should take an infant/child first aid and CPR course. It’s one of the best investments of time you will ever make.

-Post emergency telephone numbers near every phone in your home and on the refrigerator, and program emergency numbers in your cell phone.  Include the National Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222), Police, Pediatrician, Veterinarian, Dentist, Family Doctor, and Fire Department. Also include the phone number of a friend or relative living outside of the emergency area. (A caller is more likely to connect with a long-distance number outside the emergency area than with a local number within it.)

-Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1.

-To prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters, assemble a fully stocked disaster supplies kit. Include baby supplies, nonperishable foods, water, prescription and necessary OTC medication, manual can opener, flashlights, radio, and batteries. Include essential items for your pets. Your kit should contain at a minimum, a 3-day supply.  Buying tip: Look for flashlights and radios powered by hand cranking so you won’t have to worry about depleted batteries when blackouts or emergencies hit.

-Assemble a fully stocked first aid kit. Include a first aid manual, disposable gloves, bandages of several sizes, antiseptic wipes and sharp scissors and tweezers.

Tip of the Month

Buy From Local Growers

-- In this way you avoid buying food shipped over long distances or stored over long periods of time and there is accountability for the manner in which it was produced. It also provides tremendous support to the local farmers. Moreover, it can often mean lower prices, too! You can also grow your own chemical-free produce right in your own backyard, (or even in a container), which can be a fun family activity.

Debra Smiley Holtzman, J.D., M.A.

Child Safety Advocate
Health, Safety and Lifestyle Expert

Phone (954) 963-7702 - EMAIL:

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