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Hidden Hazards

Protecting Your Family
By: Safe Kids USA

“I can’t keep my kid in a bubble!"

You can’t possibly predict every move your child will make, or every object that might be dangerous. Won’t knowing about all these “hidden hazards” just make you paranoid?

That’s not our goal. It’s great to be aware of potential dangers, and often you can prevent the most common ones by avoiding certain products or taking simple precautions. But the point of becoming aware is to realize that children – especially when they’re young – need constant supervision. So you don’t have to peer into your crystal ball, just keep an eye on your child!

Here are some other easy steps you can take:

All-Terrain Vehicles

    Never allow children ages 14 and under to operate adult-sized ATVs, snowmobiles or tractors. In addition, never allow extra riders on tractors, mowers, mini-bikes or ATVs.

    All riders should wear helmets, eye protection, and protective reflective clothing. Appropriate helmets are those designed for motorcycle (not bicycle) use, and should include safety visors/face shields for eye protection.

Amusement Parks

    Bring at least one adult to supervise every two kids under the age of 5.

    Don’t put children on rides that frighten them.

    Talk about what to do if your child becomes frightened while riding. Tell her not to get out of the car, but to remain seated and keep her feet and hands inside the ride at all times.

    Never sneak children onto rides for which they are too small or too young.

    Teach your children to stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop. Children who are in a rush to be the first off or in a hurry to get to the next ride may try to exit while the ride is still moving.

    Use good judgment when deciding whether to let your child board a particular ride. Base your decision on your child’s ability to follow directions and stay seated.

Backpack Injury

    Tell children to bend using both knees when wearing a backpack.

    Children should use all possible compartments to distribute weight. Heaviest items should go closest to children's backs.

    Have children wear backpacks so they hang below the shoulders and rest on the hips and pelvis.

    If possible, have your child make frequent trips to her locker between classes to reduce the number of books to be carried in a backpack at one time.

    Use backpacks that use two shoulder straps: backpacks with one strap that runs across the body cannot distribute the weight evenly.

    Backpacks with a padded back protect against sharp edges on objects inside the pack and increase comfort.

Bleacher Falls

    Know that children can fall from bleachers when guardrails provide inadequate coverage or are missing or damaged. They can also fall into the space between the bottom of the seat and the floorboard. Other falls occur when bleachers are not properly maintained and have missing components or structural damage.

    Parents should be aware that many bleachers are decades old, lack proper maintenance and were installed before building codes created standards for guardrails and openings.

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has created guidelines for retrofitting bleachers. This document can be found at

Bunk Beds

    Children under age 6 should not use the top bunk.

    Fasten supports to ledges of both beds with screws or bolts. Securely attach ladders.

    Only use the appropriate size mattress for the bed.

    Any spaces between the guardrails and the bed frame should be less than 3.5 inches, and guardrails should extend at least 5 inches above the mattress to keep kids from rolling.

    Teach children that rough play is unsafe around the beds, and that only one child should be on the top bunk at a time.

    Check U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission listings for recalls when purchasing bunk beds and on a regular basis.

Dog Bites

    Do not let your children pet any dogs without the owner's permission.

    Let a dog sniff or see your child before letting them pet it.

    Children should never approach a strange dog, especially if it is restrained or chained up.

    Teach your children to avoid running past a dog while playing. A dog's instinct is to chase.

    Teach your children to avoid disturbing a dog that is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.

    Children should avoid rough play with dogs.

    Report unlicensed/stray dogs. Enforcement of restraint laws is essential in reducing dog bite incidences.


    Only adults should handle fireworks.

    Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks, and follow all directions and safety precautions.

    Tell children they should leave the area immediately if their friends are using fireworks.

    Teach children to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes catch fire.

Lawn Mower

    Make sure that children are a safe distance from the area that you plan to mow. Be aware of where children are at all times, especially when mowing in reverse. Children under the age of 6 should be kept indoors when mowing.

    Clear the mowing area of any objects such as twigs, stones and toys that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades.

    Children must not be allowed to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers or garden tractors, or to be towed behind mowers in carts or trailers. They should not be permitted to play on or around the mower when it is in use or in storage.

    Most children are not ready to operate a walk-behind mower or hand mower until at least 12 years of age or a ride-on mower until at least 16 years of age.

Pool Drains

    The Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that parents always supervise children around water and install fencing that completely surrounds all pools, spas, whirlpools and hot tubs. Teach children never to go near a pool drain with or without a cover, and to pin up long hair when in water.

    Install multiple drains in all pools, spas, whirlpools and hot tubs. This minimizes the suction of any one drain, reducing risk of death or injury.

    Regularly check to make sure drain covers are secure and have no cracks. Replace flat drain covers with dome-shaped ones.

    Know where the manual cut-off switch for the pump is in case of emergency. Consider installing an approved “safety vacuum release system” (SVRS), a tool that quickly and automatically turns off the pump (and stops the suction) when something is trapped in or blocks the drain.

    Parents may also want to check to be sure these steps are taken at community pools, whirlpools, spas and hot tubs.

Shopping Carts

    Always use a harness or safety belt to restrain children in shopping cart seats.

    Stay close to the cart at all times.

    Don’t let your child stand up in or push a shopping cart.


    Make sure terrain is free of obstacles and far from traffic. Check carefully for snow-covered hazards.

    Use equipment that is sturdy and safely constructed. Avoid equipment with sharp and jagged edges. Make sure handholds are secure.

    Remind children to avoid lying flat on the sled while riding down hill. Lying flat increases the chance of head and abdominal injuries.

    Children should never ride a sled that is being pulled by a motorized vehicle, on makeshift sleds, or with more children on a sled than the manufacturer recommends.

Trunk Entrapment and Automobile Heat-Related Injury

    Never leave your child unattended in a car, even with the windows down.

    Always lock your car door and trunk, and keep keys out of children’s sight and reach.

    Teach your kids not to play in or around cars.

    Keep rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from getting into the trunk from inside the car.

    Contact your auto dealership about getting your vehicle retrofitted with a trunk release mechanism.

Wired Glass

    Ask your local schools and recreation centers to consider having screens or "safety film" installed over wired glass to improve its strength. High-risk areas to consider: gymnasiums, doors and side panels to doors, swimming pools and bathrooms.

    Teach your children not to run, push others or rough house in school hallways.

    Teach your child to stay away from broken wired glass and immediately report the broken glass to a teacher, coach or other adult.