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Protect Your Child from Injury

hands buckling toddler into car safety seat

The Basics

Children are at high risk for injuries. You can help keep your child from getting hurt by taking action ahead of time.

Leading causes of injury and death for children include:

  • Car crashes
  • Fires
  • Accidental poisoning
  • Drowning
  • Falls

The good news is that you can help prevent injuries like these by taking simple safety steps.

A few minutes now could save your child’s life.
These simple steps can help prevent injuries inside and outside your home.

  • Use the right child safety seat in the car.
  • Use smoke alarms and make a fire escape plan for your home.
  • Keep medicines, vitamins, and cleaning products out of your child’s reach.
  • Teach your child to swim and closely watch your child in or near water.
  • Make sure your child wears the right safety gear (like a helmet or pads) when playing sports.

Take Action!

Follow these steps to protect your child.

Keep your child safe in the car.

  • Always buckle your child’s seatbelt.
  • Choose a safety seat that’s right for your child’s size and age and for the car.
  • Have your child’s safety seat inspected to be sure it’s put in the car the right way.
  • Make sure that kids under age 13 ride in the back seat.
  • Set a good example. Always buckle your seat belt when you drive or ride in a car.
  • Never drive after drinking alcohol or using drugs.

Get tips on how to keep your child safe in and around a car.

Protect kids in and near water.

  • Never leave your young kids alone in the bathtub – not even for a second. If you have to answer the phone or doorbell, take them with you.
  • Teach your kids how to float. As soon as your kids are ready, sign them up for swim lessons at a public pool or community center.
  • If there is a pool where you live, be sure there is a fence around all 4 sides. The fence should separate the house and yard from the pool.
  • Watch your kids closely at the pool and beach. Follow these tips for safe swimming.
  • Make sure your kids wear a life jacket when boating. Use life jackets that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Find out how to choose the right life jacket.

Get more tips to protect your kids from drowning.

Put smoke alarms on every floor of your home.
Use long-life smoke alarms if possible. These alarms use lithium batteries and last longer than regular smoke alarms. They also have a “hush button” so you can stop the alarm quickly if there’s a false alarm.

If you use regular smoke alarms, replace the batteries every year. (Tip: Change smoke alarm batteries when you change your clock back from Daylight Savings Time in the fall.) Follow these other tips on smoke alarms:

  • Test your smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button.
  • Put smoke alarms in each bedroom and on the ceiling outside bedroom doors. If people sleep in other rooms of the house, put smoke alarms inside and outside of these rooms, too.
  • Don’t forget to put a smoke alarm in the basement.
  • Replace your smoke alarm if it doesn’t work when tested or if it’s more than 10 years old.
  • Dust or vacuum smoke alarms when you change the batteries.

Get more tips on smoke alarms.

Make a fire escape plan for your home.
Use a fire escape plan to get out of your home quickly in an emergency. Make sure your plan includes a safe place away from the house where everyone can meet. Practice your escape plan with your kids.

Get more tips on preparing for an emergency.

Keep medicine and cleaning products where children can’t reach them.

  • Keep medicines, vitamins, cleaning supplies, and other poisons (like batteries and bug spray) in locked or childproof cabinets.
  • Put the poison control number (1-800-222-1222) on or near every home telephone, and save it on your cell phone. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Get more tips to protect your child from poisoning.

Play safe.

  • Make sure your kids wear a helmet during active sports, such as riding a bike or skateboarding. Helmets and other safety gear help protect the head, face, wrists, and knees.
  • Watch your children at the playground. Check for a soft landing spot under swings, slides, and climbers. Use this Public Playground Safety Checklist [PDF - 66 KB].

Get more tips to protect your kids from falls.

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Content last updated on: August 23, 2012

National Health Information Center

P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133