Protect Your Child from Injury

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Children are at high risk for injuries. But there are things you can do to lower the chances that your child will get hurt.

Leading causes of injury and death for children include:

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

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

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The Basics: Simple Steps

Prevent injuries inside and outside your home.

Be prepared and learn basic steps to protect your child.

  • Use a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt that’s right for your child’s size and age – on every trip.
  • Teach your child to swim, and closely watch your child in or near water.
  • Keep medicines, vitamins, and cleaning products where your child can’t see or reach them.
  • Use smoke alarms. Make and practice a fire escape plan for your home.
  • Make sure your child wears the right safety gear (like a helmet or pads) when playing sports or doing other physical activity.
  • Create a safe sleeping area for your baby. Keep soft objects (like pillows, blankets, crib bumpers, or toys) out of the crib. Always put babies to sleep on their back.
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Take Action!

Take Action: Car Safety

Keep your child safe in the car.

Make sure your child is always buckled in.

  • Choose a car seat or booster seat that’s right for your child’s size and age – and for the car.
  • Get your child’s safety seat inspected by a certified child passenger safety technician. The technician will show you how to install and use the car seat the right way.
  • Have kids age 12 and under ride in the back seat. Make sure they are always buckled in correctly.

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.
  • Never read or send texts while driving.
  • Follow the speed limit and keep a safe distance between your car and the cars ahead of you. 

Learn more:

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Take Action: Water Safety

Protect kids in and near water.

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Take Action: Poisons

Keep medicines and cleaning products out of your child’s reach.

  • Keep medicines, vitamins, dietary supplements, cleaning supplies, and other poisons (like batteries and bug spray) out of reach and out of sight.
  • After you use a medicine, make sure to always relock the safety cap.
  • Put things like cleaning products away right after every use.
  • Put the poison control number (1-800-222-1222) on or near every home telephone, and save it in your cell phone. Poison control is always open.
  • Get more tips to protect your child from poisoning.
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Take Action: Smoke Alarms

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. To help you remember, change your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks back from daylight saving 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 on every floor of your home and near places where people sleep.
  • 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.
  • Never disable or take down smoke alarms. If an alarm goes off because you are cooking, use the hush button, open a window, or fan the alarm with a towel to clear the air.
  • Get more fire safety tips [PDF - 3 MB].

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

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Take Action: Playgrounds and Sports

Play safely.

Make sure your child wears a helmet during activities like riding a bike or skateboarding. Use helmets and other safety gear to help protect your child’s head, face, wrists, elbows, and knees.

At the playground, check for soft landing spots under swings, slides, and climbers. These can be made of mulch, sand, or rubber mats. Just grass or dirt is not enough to prevent injuries from falling.

Use this playground safety checklist to help make sure your local playground is a safe place to play.

Get more tips to protect your kids from:

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Take Action: Sleep Safety

Create a safe place for your baby to sleep.

Suffocation is when a person can’t breathe. Babies are most at risk for suffocation when they sleep.

To help your baby sleep safely:

  • Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back, even for naps.
  • Use a firm sleep surface, like a crib mattress that's been approved for safety and is covered by a fitted sheet. 
  • Never put your baby to sleep on a soft surface, like a bed, couch, or chair.
  • Keep soft objects, including pillows, loose bedding, toys, and crib bumpers out of the crib.
  • Share a room with your baby, but not a bed.
  • Learn more about how to keep your baby safe during sleep.
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