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Each year in the United States, about 1,900 children, mostly ages 4 and younger, die from accidental injuries in the home, and 3.4 million kids are treated in emergency rooms for accidental injuries occurring at home. Most fatal injuries at home are caused by suffocation, fire and burns, drowning, choking, falls, poisoning or firearms discharged unintentionally.

Safe Kids urges parents and caregivers to check their homes at least once a year for basic safety precautions. There's no substitute for active supervision, but childproofing your home provides extra protection and peace of mind. It's easy to eliminate the most obvious hazards — and it doesn't have to involve a lot of expensive equipment.

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The first step in childproofing a home is exploring every room at a child's eye level. Literally get down on your hands and knees and crawl around. You'll be surprised at how much you can reach and how many small objects you can pick up. Anything that can fit through a standard 1½-inch toilet paper tube is a potential choking hazard. Of course, cleaning products, alcohol, firearms and other potentially harmful products need to be stored out of reach and locked up.

Safe Kids Carroll County also recommends these precautions:

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Set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. At higher temperatures, it only takes three seconds to burn a child's skin severely enough to require surgery.

Memorize this phone number: 800-222-1222. From anywhere in the United States, this toll-free number will connect you to the local Poison Control Center. Call this hotline if a child has ingested any substance that isn't food — but if a child is choking or having trouble breathing, call 911.

Test your smoke alarms every month. Make sure you have working smoke alarms in every sleeping area. Also check for fire hazards such as frayed electrical wires or flammable materials near heating appliances.

Install carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and near fuel-burning appliances. This invisible, odorless gas can be fatal.

Put safety gates at the top and bottom of every stairway. Gates installed with hardware are safer than pressure gates.

Cover unused electrical outlets. You can buy plastic outlet covers or just use duct tape.

Keep firearms unloaded, locked up and out of reach. And lock up ammunition in a separate place.

Post emergency numbers by every phone. In addition to the numbers for fire and emergency medical services, keep numbers for the pediatrician and a neighbor handy.

Check your first aid kit to make sure it is fully stocked. Make sure baby sitters know where to find first aid supplies and how to handle an emergency.

For more information about kitchen safety, window blinds, cribs, windows, furniture and other hazards around the home, call Safe Kids Carroll County Coalition at 410-876-4448 or visit safekids.org

Maggie Rauser is the Safe Kids Carroll County coordinator, Carroll County Health Department. Safe Kids Carroll County works to prevent accidental childhood injury, theleading killer of children 14

and under.

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