Child Injury Prevention
Most child injuries can be prevented. Parents and caregivers can play an important role in preventing childhood injuries and creating safer space for children.
Injuries are related to how children are growing and developing. Each stage of development is different and having an understanding of each stage can help to prevent injuries in children.
Young children (zero to four years old):
- want to explore their environment
- do not understand dangers
- are impulsive
- are still developing their coordination and physical abilities
- are not able to remember safety messages
Older children (five to nine years old):
- jump, balance and climb, and do not see the danger in the activities they do
- overestimate their own skills
- take new risks, especially boys who are more often injured than girls
- want to try new activities that older children do even though their bodies have not developed enough
- need reminding about safety rules
Video: Introduction to Child Injury Prevention Course (Parachute)
- In your living space identify hazards in each room from your child’s perspective – kneel down on the floor and look for potential hazards such as things your child can climb or touch.
- Make rooms safer for your child:
- Keep dangerous items out of reach. This includes sharp objects, medications and other chemicals.
- Childproof with safety devices.
- Check that products and toys are safe and age appropriate.
- Have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. For more information visit safety equipment and devices
- Keep stairs and hallways clear of clutter.
- Place furniture away from windows and balcony railings.
- Install safety devices on windows and balcony doors so they do not open more than 10 cm. To learn more about window safety latches and by-laws, call the City of Toronto at 311 and ask for Municipal Licensing and Standards.
- Make your home smoke-free.
More detailed information on how to make places safer for children can be found in the Home Safety section below.
- Always watch your child. All children are different – one child may need closer supervision than another.
- Always watch young children when they are eating.
- Always know where your children play and that they are being supervised.
- Never leave your child alone near a window, balcony or fire escape.
- Never leave an infant or young child unattended. Always keep a hand on them when on a surface above the floor, a change table, or in the bathtub.
- Ensure all potentially harmful substances, including medications, alcohol and cannabis, are safely stored and avoid using any substances when caring for children.
How much supervision is needed? Here are five questions to ask yourself:
- What is my child able to do?
- How active is my child?
- How impulsive is my child?
- How well does my child follow rules?
- How safe is the environment?
- When your child is able to understand, make family safety rules together such as holding an adult’s hand when crossing the street or playing where an adult can see them.
- Help your child understand why safety rules are important and need to be followed.
- Give your child reminders of what the safety rules are.
- Praise your child when they play safe and follow the rules.
- Your child learns by watching you; be a safety role model.