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National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.

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Too Cold to Play Outside?
by Alison Rhodes

Now that Punxsutawney Phil has declared six more weeks of winter and it seems that we're destined to have several more play dates inside, it's a good time to take a look around your house and make sure it's safe for toddlers.

The Invisible Hazards

Since it's been such a cold winter, many of us have had our windows sealed tight for quite some time. As a result, carbon monoxide and/or radon gasses can build up and reach dangerous levels in your home. We have all read the tragic stories of families who have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, unaware of what was happening. CO2 detectors are as important to have in your home as smoke alarms. These should be placed near the sleeping areas in your house and one on each floor. It is especially important if you have a playroom in your basement near your boiler or heating room as this is where the carbon monoxide originates. CO2 detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores or Home Depot. Radon, while not an immediate threat, over lifetime exposure is the second leading cause of cancer after smoking. This is something that can only be tested by a professional. Generally speaking, newer homes and those with finished basements have an increased risk for elevated radon levels. A home inspector or environmental testing company can do the test for you.

Gathering Around The Fire - Safely

There's nothing cozier than a roaring fire on a cold day but with kids running around it could be a recipe for disaster. If you have a gas fireplace be sure that it requires a key to turn the gas on and then keep the key in a safe place away from the kids. Install a hearth guard that softens the blow should your child hit their head on it. You can now by hearth guards that actually look like a cushion and come in a variety of colors. If you have a grate around your fireplace make sure it is secured to the wall. This is easily accomplished with a hook and screw.

Ensuring a Safe Sleep For Your Infant

It's a natural inclination to bundle your infant up during the winter but be sure to not overheat them. The rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) increases in the colder months. There are, however, some things that parents can do to reduce the risk:

  • Don't overheat baby's room. The temperature should never be over 72 degrees F.


  • Keep all comforters and stuffed animals out of baby's crib. While the matching comforters are cute, they should be displayed rather than actually used.


  • Don't use blankets in the crib. A great alternative is the HALO™ Sleep Sack which can be found at Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Sears and online at target.com.
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