Yuma, Arizona - According to National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, approximately 45 percent of unintentional injury deaths occurred in and around the home. Unintentional home injury deaths of children are caused primarily by fire and burns, suffocation, drowning, firearms, falls, choking and poisoning.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2007 and 2011, on an annual average , playing with fire (usually by children) started 49,300 fires, causing an estimated 80 civilian deaths, 860 civilian injuries and $235 million in property damage. Roughly two out of every three child-playing fires -- and four out of five associated deaths and injuries -- involve matches or lighters. Most of those killed by these fires are under 5, and such fires are the leading cause of fire deaths among preschoolers. Teach children that lighters and matches are fire starting tools (not toys), and keep them locked up.

Make a plan for escaping your home in an emergency and be sure to include a family meeting place where everyone will gather after they have gotten out of the home. Practice this plan with your children. We call this E.D.I.T.H. or “Exit Drills In The Home”. They know what to do at school, help them to learn what to do at home! Children that don’t know what to do may hide, and that is very dangerous.

Always be sure you have working smoke alarms in your home. Half of fire deaths could be prevented by the early warning given by a smoke alarm. Change batteries at least annually and test them at least monthly. Smoke alarms save lives!

Even though Arizona is considered a desert state, every year drowning incidents take the lives of our children. Children 4 years old and younger are in the highest risk group and drowning is the leading cause of death for Arizona children age 1 through 4 years. In 2016 the Yuma area saw 2 child drowning deaths and at least 6 near drownings. So far in 2018 Maricopa and Pinal Counties alone have had 5 child drowning deaths (out of 28 water related incidents) and Yuma has had several close calls.

Families can take simple steps to protect their children around water and avoid the tragedy of unnecessary loss of life. The most basic of these steps comes down to constant, responsible, relentless, adult supervision of any child around water. Always designate a “Water Watcher” whose only responsibility it to watch the kids around water. If they have to leave the immediate area (to answer a phone, use the bathroom, etc.), everyone comes out of the water. This is a rule without exception.

Young children are most at risk of suffocation or choking in the home. According to Safe Kids USA, some of the things you can do to make nurseries or children’s bedrooms safer, include:

  • Eliminate openings of more than 3½ inches in headboards or furniture.
  • Use a small parts tester to determine if a small toy or toy part is a hazard (a toilet paper tube works well, if it is small enough to fit through the tube, it is a hazard).
  • Secure tall and heavy furniture to the walls (using furniture straps/brackets).
  • Lay your baby on their back to sleep.

Every year children mistake household chemicals and medications for things that are safe to eat or drink. Statistics from the National Safety Council state that on average 165 children per day are taken to Emergency Rooms due to accidentally taking medications. To reduce the chances of accidental poisonings:

  • Never tell children medicine is candy
  • Keep all medications out of reach and securely locked away
  • Use safety locks on cabinets containing cleaning products or other poisonous chemicals.
  • Never keep household chemicals in other than original containers (like pop bottles or milk containers)