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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

Making Your Home Safer for Children and Teens

Safety proofing your home shouldn’t be limited to the toddler years; the risks change, as your child grows, and so should your approach.

When we put our seatbelt on, it’s not because we expect to get into a car crash that day, but we do so because we recognize some things are beyond our control. Children and teens are curious and can sometimes act without thinking, especially when emotionally upset. No matter how good we are as parents, we do not completely control our child’s behavior. Taking these steps today to make your home safer helps reduce the risk of preventable injuries and death:

  1. Pay attention to your teen’s mental health and be alert to possible signs of mental health needs or suicidal thoughts. Trust your intuition about your child and learn how to have conversations by reading our blog, “It’s okay to ask if they’re okay.”
  2. Store all medications, including Tylenol and Advil, in a locked box in a secure location.  Medication overdoses are one of the most common ways that teens attempt suicide. For medications that need to be taken regularly, use pill boxes to limit how much is available at any given time. Talk to your child early and often about the importance of taking prescription and over-the-counter medication responsibly. Children who misuse prescription drugs often find them in their home. Look in your medicine cabinets and dispose of expired medications safely. Store the rest in a locking toolbox, safe, or cabinet in a secure part of the home. When children begin to independently take their own medication, make sure they are always stored in a safe location.  
  3. Store firearms in a safe or lockbox with the ammunition stored separately to protect the entire family, especially those at high risk, like young, curious children and impulsive teens. Arizona’s firearm suicide rate is higher than most states and you can be a role model for reversing that trend. Using a gun lock and/or gun safe can save lives, as many kids that use a gun to harm themselves do not recover. If someone in your home is at risk or in a crisis, consider temporarily removing firearms from the home.
  4. Sharp objects can also be a way for teens to self-harm and/or attempt suicide. Evaluate your kitchen knives, tools in the garage, and your office space. Locking these items and bringing them out only as needed will also reduce the risk for your teen. 

Most kids grow into healthy adults, even those who have struggled with anxiety or sadness. While there are many things we cannot control, there are some easy steps you can take today to make your home safer.

Together, we can prevent suicide. You are not alone.

*If your child is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or take them to the nearest emergency room.

Additional Resources

  • 1-800-273-TALK is a national support hotline that can talk to you or your child.
  • Teen Lifeline in Phoenix is staffed by teens for teens and their number is 602-248-8336 (TEEN) or 1-800-248-8336 (TEEN).

Authors

Todd Nickoles, RN, BSN, MBA, TCRN

Todd Nickoles, RN, BSN, MBA, TCRN
Todd is a trauma nurse with over 20 years of healthcare experience in emergency, critical care, trauma and pediatric settings in both Michigan and Arizona. He has held leadership positions within trauma-related professional organizations, appointments within state trauma committees, and has been engaged in trauma program development for the past eight years. He finished his Master’s in Business Administration in 2016. He currently directs the Level 1 Trauma program, injury prevention program, trauma and surgery research team, and the new Level 1 Children’s Surgery program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. His interests in healthcare include performance management, simulation, high reliability, research and prevention.

 

Angelica Baker

Angelica Baker
Angelica is the manager of Phoenix Children’s Center for Family Health and Safety. She works closely with Phoenix Children’s Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center and the community at large to prevent the most common and preventable injuries. She and the center analyze injury data and coordinate community-wide programs to address risk.

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