by Rynekah Barbour, Child Care Surveyor, Johnson County Dept. of Health and Environment
The safety of children is a top priority for parents. We begin the lifelong journey of parenting by bringing home a small bundle of joy. We quickly learn that this new little person depends on us to meet their needs. We devote a tremendous amount of time for vital needs such as feedings, hygienic routines for bathing, diapering, and dressing, and providing a safe, clean, and healthy environment for our children. Throughout their lifespan, we learn that their needs change and as they grow, we make adjustments to our routines. One thing that remains the same is the need to make the home environment as safe as possible.
Charlie’s House’s mission is to prevent injuries to children in and around the home. On November 1, 2007, Charlie Horn, a 2- year old boy from Kansas City, was killed when he attempted to climb a dresser in his home that was just 30 inches high. Through this tragedy, Charlie’s House, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, was created. Charlie’s House strives to share simple tips to prevent childhood injuries, which remains the leading cause of death in children ages 19 and younger.
At Charlie’s House, we believe that home safety is attainable for anyone. There are things that every parent and caregiver can do to lessen the chances of harm or injury in a child’s environment. We also believe that home safety is an ongoing process that requires adjusting for new hazards as children grow and as we learn more about what we can do to improve or maintain safe areas where children live and play.
There are some “danger hotspots” within a home that are familiar to many parents. Items such as plug-in covers for electrical outlets to protect from burns, and safety gates to protect from falls on stairs, can be found quite commonly in many homes. We also find that parents make attempts to keep poisonous items locked up or out of reach in kitchens and bathrooms and use car seats and booster seats without fail. There are many other things that we want parents to become aware of and Charlie’s House has made available the use of Charlie’s Checklist and Virtual House through the website.
The online checklist and virtual house provide examples of things that we can do room by room to reduce risks of injuries. The safety checklist is available in a printable format and includes points for securing furniture to the walls, gun safety, and safe sleep awareness. Through donations and grants, Charlie’s House is able to provide items such as furniture straps and the safety checklists on a complimentary basis to parents and others that make the request on our website.
Charlie’s House provides additional resources by educating the community through outreach at safety fairs, presentations to school and work groups, newsletters and references on the website, such as product recalls and safety news. One focus area that Charlie’s House is currently working on is spreading the word about the dangers of liquid nicotine used in electronic cigarettes. A plan to complete the Charlie’s House demonstration home, which will provide educational programming and address safety in a homelike setting, is getting closer each day. Charlie’s House continues to be committed to doing more to engage and educate the public. Our goal is to prevent and eliminate avoidable accidents and deaths to children in and around the home.