Home safety: Meal time

An estimated 44 children age 14 and under die every year in Canada from choking, suffocation and strangulation and another 380 are hospitalized for serious injuries. Almost half (48 per cent) of these hospitalizations are from choking on food.

Here are some safety tips to prevent your child from choking:Child eating small pieces of food

Keep nuts, carrot sticks or chunks, popcorn and hot dogs away from children until they are at least three years old. The most common causes of choking for young children are nuts, raw carrot sticks or chunks and other hard fruits and vegetables, popcorn kernels and hot dogs. Nuts, carrot sticks or chunks, popcorn, seeds and other hard, crunchy foods should be kept away from children until they are three years old. If you are serving a hot dog to your child, make sure to slice it lengthwise. Vegetables should be pureed or finely chopped.

Keep raw pear, apple and celery away from children under three. Young children do not have the teeth required to grind food down to a small, safe size. Some of the products that we use regularly and take for granted can seriously harm a child.

The dangers of hot liquids

More than half of burn hospitalizations are caused by scald burns. Scalds are burns from hot water or liquids. Children under the age of five suffer 83 per cent of all scald injuries requiring hospital admission.

Keep your child away from hot liquids. Spilled tea, coffee, soup and hot tap water are the leading causes of this painful and potentially serious injury.

Reduce the hot water temperature in your home. Hot tap water can seriously burn your child. Tap water causes nearly a third of scald burns requiring hospitalization. Set the maximum temperature of your water taps at 49°C or 120°F. Read the manual for your water heater before changing the setting on the thermostat dial. If you do not have a manual, contact the company that made the water heater.

Keep your child safely out of the way when you are cooking. In a matter of seconds, hot liquids can fall on your child and burn them badly. Put your baby or toddler in a high chair or playpen to keep them from being burned or scalded by hot liquids. Make sure preschoolers stay seated at the kitchen table, or out of the way, while you are cooking. You could also use a safety gate to keep your children out of the kitchen when cooking. Cooking on the back burners and turning the pot handles towards the centre of the stove, prevents your child from being able to reach the pots. A stove guard can also be installed around the stove to prevent your child from reaching pots and to protect her from the splatter of hot liquids like cooking oil.

Use a cup with a tight-fitting lid, like a travel cup, for hot drinks.

Keep cords from your kettle and other appliances out of your child's reach. Your child could pull at the cords of the kettle hanging over the edge of the counter and scald themselves with the hot water from the kettle.