Spring Forward Home Safety Tips

This content has been clinically reviewed by Maneesha Agarwal, M.D.

You may have already changed all of your clocks, but Daylight Savings Time is also a good time to do a seasonal safety check around your house.

Consider these simple reminders to help keep your family safe.

Replace the batteries in home smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Smoke alarms save lives—but only if they have batteries that work. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that batteries be replaced at least once a year and tested every month. Also keep these important tips in mind:

  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed outside of sleep areas on every level of your home.
  • If your smoke alarms are more than 10 years old, it’s time to replace them. Not sure if it’s time? Remove the smoke detector from the wall and take a look at the date of manufacture on the back.
  • Be sure to test your alarms after you install fresh batteries, and once per month throughout the year.
  • Carbon monoxide is a deadly, invisible, odorless gas. Anything in your home that burns fuel is a potential source of carbon monoxide, including portable generators. Replace your carbon monoxide detectors every five to seven years.
  • Make sure your fire extinguisher works and that your family has an up-to-date fire escape plan.
  • Practice the escape plan with your kids. Use a stopwatch, since home fires can leave families as little as two minutes to escape once an alarm sounds. A child who is coached ahead of time has a better chance to escape.
  • Be aware that some sleeping children may not hear smoke alarms when they go off.

Make sure windows are safe

Now that the weather is mild enough to open the windows again, it’s time to check that they’re safe. Every year more than 5,200 children—most of them 5 or younger—fall out of windows, and one in four is injured badly enough to be hospitalized, according to Consumer Reports.

  • Install safety devices such as window guards or window stops on windows. (Window stops prevent the window from opening more than 4 inches, while allowing an adult to open them fully in case of a fire or other emergency.)
  • If you want fresh air, open windows from the top whenever possible.
  • Remember that screens don’t prevent children from falling out of windows. In fact, they may give them a false sense of security.
  • Keep furniture away from windows so that children can’t climb it to get access to a window.

Check that medications are properly stored

Spring is a good time to do a safety check on medications. Medicines and vitamins should be stored up, away and out of sight of curious children, preferably in a locked cabinet.  Be aware that children can climb up counters and toilets to get to items in a medicine cabinet.

  • Even items like mouthwash can be extremely dangerous when ingested by children.
  • Don’t store medicines in nightstands or in purses that are easily accessible to children.
  • Be alert to visitors’ medications. Grandparents may not have safety tops on their medications, so offer to store these medications for them out of the reach of children.
  • Always keep medications in their original containers.
  • Check expiration dates on the medications in your cabinet, and dispose of the ones that have expiredExpired medications can lose their strength and be harmful.

Place household products out of your child's sight and reach

Some of the most common household products, including cleaning supplies, laundry products and washing pods, automotive products and cosmetics can be harmful and dangerous to children. They’re easily attracted to the bright colors of the packaging, the shape of containers and even some of the smells.

To keep your kids safe:

  • Store all household products in their original containers.
  • Lock up cleaners, pesticides, automotive products and cosmetics where children can’t reach them – somewhere high and out of reach of little hands.
  • Save the toll-free Poison Control Center’s number in your phone in case of emergency: 1-800-222-1222. 

Replace missing items in your first-aid kit

Every home should have a first-aid kit for emergencies. You can purchase a first-aid kit at drugstores or put together your own. Every spring, it’s a good idea to check your kit and replace items that are needed, such as adhesive bandages or antibiotic ointment. Now is also a good time to throw away and replace any medications in the kit that have expired.

Don’t have a first-aid kit yet? Make it your goal this spring to assemble one. The American Red Cross publishes a list of recommended first-aid items every family should have available.  

Ensure your pool is safe

Hot weather is on the way, which means it’s a good idea to go ahead and double-check the safety of your swimming pool. If you own a pool, make sure it has a fence that completely surrounds it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the pool fence:

  • Not have anything alongside it (like lawn furniture) that can be used to climb up it.
  • Be at least 4 feet high and have no footholds or handholds that could help a child climb it. Chain link fences are easy to climb and are not recommended as pool fences.
  • Have no more than 4 inches between vertical slats.
  • Have a self-closing, self-latching gate that is higher than a child can reach­­—54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
  • Automatic pool covers, door alarms and pool alarms are not substitutes for adequate fencing.

Be aware that children have been known to climb out a window, crawl through a doggy-door or simply walk out an open door to get to a pool. 

To avoid a tragedy, constantly supervise children when around a swimming pool. This is not the time to make a cell phone call or finish a chore. In the water, an adult should be within arm’s reach of infants and toddlers. The adult should know how to swim.

Be sure to remind grandparents and babysitters of your pool rules, too. 

Preparedness Matters

There are some accidents even the most cautious parents may not be able to prevent, but preparation lessens the likelihood substantially.

Employ these tips, but also, if you haven’t already been trained in CPR, consider signing up for a first-aid class at your local rec center this spring. In the very worst cases, simply being prepared could be the key to preventing serious tragedy.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.

Additional Injury Prevention Resources

For more tips on keeping your kids safe and injury-free, visit Safe Kids Georgia, the injury prevention arm of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Through their statewide network, Safe Kids educates families and the community on childhood injury prevention best practices.