Home and Yard Safety

Smiling little girl grasping a yellow bar that's part of an outdoor playground set

Most childhood injuries happen at home. It’s easy to overlook everyday things that may cause injuries. We can help you:

  • Safeguard potential hazards hiding in plain sight.
  • Keep your active child safe in the yard or at the playground.
  • Choose toys that are the safest for your child’s age.

We offer a range of downloadable flyers for home and yard safety.

Preventing falls

Close supervision can keep a lot of childhood falls from happening. Taking preventive steps can make it easier.

  • Schedule regular physical, eye and ear exams.
  • Ask your pediatrician or pharmacist about side effects, such as dizziness, of medicines.
  • Choose the lowest-watt light bulbs that provide enough light. Use bulbs within the recommendations for the lamp or fixture.
  • Give your child a night light or flashlight for getting out of bed. 
  • Use rubber mats or nonskid strips in the tub or shower.
  • Use a shower seat in the tub or shower if needed.
  • Have your child wear low-heeled, nonskid shoes. Make sure shoelaces are tied.
  • Don’t use throw rugs.
  • Pick up toys.
  • Keep items used most often in easy-to-reach places.
  • Don’t let your child carry things that are too heavy.
  • Secure tall or heavy furniture and TVs with straps screwed into wall studs.
  • Don’t let your child jump on beds or sofas.
  • Don’t put infant carriers on furniture.
  • Don’t let a child younger than 6 sleep on the top bunk.
  • When your baby can sit up, put the crib mattress on the lowest level.
  • Move your child to a bed when he or she is 35 inches tall.
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases.
  • Use hardware-mounted gates, not tension gates, at the top of stairs.
  • Keep stairs clear of toys and other things.
  • Keep staircases well-lit.
  • Teach your child to use the handrail.
  • Teach your child not to slide down railings.

Window safety

Dr. Hoffman bending down to speak with a little girl as her mother watches. A demo window is nearby, behind them.
Dr. Benjamin Hoffman talks with Isabella Ramirez and her mom, Bernadette Ramirez, about window safety at the Tom Sargent Safety Center. Dr. Hoffman is the center’s medical director. (OHSU/Boone Speed Photography)
  • Keep windows locked when they’re closed.Teach your child not to play near windows.
  • Don’t let children open windows by themselves.
  • Don’t put furniture near windows.
  • Open windows from the top if possible.
  • Install guards or stops to keep windows from opening more than 4 inches. Our Safety Store has window safety products.
  • Remember that screens don’t prevent falls.
  • Consider putting grass, shrubs or mulch under windows to help cushion a fall.
  • Use clamps, clothespins, cleats or tie-downs to keep pull cords for drapes and blinds out of your child’s reach.
  • Each cord should have its own tassel. It shouldn’t be doubled or form a loop.
  • Replacement safety tassels are available free at window-covering retailers. Call the Window Covering Safety Council at 800-506-4636 for details.

Playground safety

You can make playgrounds in your yard or at the park safer by supervising children, teaching them how to use the equipment and doing regular maintenance.

  • Regularly inspect equipment for loose nuts and bolts, excessive wear, sharp edges and broken or cracked parts.
  • Make sure equipment is no more than 6 feet tall, securely anchored and 8 feet from other equipment.
  • Openings should be 3½ inches or smaller.
  • Playgrounds for children ages 2 to 5 and those for children 5 to 12 should be marked and separated.
  • Always have an adult present.
  • Remove debris from the area.
  • Review safe play with children:
    • Don’t push
    • Take turns
    • Sit before you slide
    • Don’t walk near moving swings
    • Don’t use wet or icy equipment
  • Use impact-absorbing material under equipment. Outdoor options include wood chips, rubber, sand, mulch or pea gravel. Consider gymnastics mats indoors.
  • The outdoor material should be 10 to 12 inches thick and extend 6 feet on all sides.
  • The slide’s angle should be 30 degrees or less.
  • Put a bar or panel at the top so children can sit and hold on before sliding.
  • Teach your child to hold onto rails when climbing up.
  • Make sure your child’s clothes have no loose strings.
  • Keep your child’s shoes tied.
  • Teach your child to always sit feet first.
  • Make sure no one else is on the slide.
  • Don’t let your child run up the slide.
  • Put top hangers slightly wider than the seat to prevent side-to-side motion.
  • Have no more than two swings per bay.
  • Use lightweight seats made of soft materials.
  • Remind your child to:
    • Sit in the center of the swing.
    • Don’t walk or run in front or back of swings.
    • Don’t stand on a swing.
    • Don’t swing too high.
    • Don’t get off until the swing stops.
  • Put rings 9 to 15 inches apart to avoid trapping a child’s head.
  • Make sure handrails and climbing bars are 1 to 1 2/3 inches in diameter.
  • Remind your child:
    • Don’t play on the gym if he can’t reach the bars.
    • Hold on with two hands.
    • Don’t climb or sit on top of the bars.

Remind your child:

  • Always sit facing each other.
  • Hold on with both hands.
  • Keep hands and feet from under the board.
  • Always warn the other person before getting off.

The OHSU Tom Sargent Safety Center and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that trampolines not be used at home, in playgrounds or as part of PE classes because of the risk of serious injury.

If you let your child use a trampoline, there are ways to make it safer.

Safety tips:

  • Don’t let children younger than 6 on a trampoline.
  • Make sure adult spotters are around the edges.
  • Don’t let more than one person jump at a time.
  • Don’t allow gymnastic exercises or stunts such as somersaults or flips.
  • Teach your child how to get off: Stop bouncing, walk to the edge, sit and slide off.
  • Don’t leave anything near the trampoline that a young child can climb onto.
  • Don’t let anyone go underneath the trampoline while someone is on it.
  • Don’t let your child play on a wet trampoline.

Equipment requirements:

  • Use a round trampoline. Rectangular ones have a dangerously high bounce.
  • Make sure the trampoline has a high safety net around the rim.
  • Make sure shock-absorbing pads cover springs, hooks, the frame and safety net poles.
  • Put the trampoline away from buildings, play areas, clotheslines and trees.
  • Keep the area around the trampoline clear of toys and debris.
  • Use soft materials such sand or wood chips around the trampoline.
  • Consider an in-ground trampoline with the jumping surface at ground level.
  • Regularly inspect the trampoline. Make sure the springs are secure, leg braces are locked, the frame isn’t bent and the jumping surface doesn’t have holes or cracks.
A little girl peering through a red plastic toy shaped like a square frame—her face is framed by this, and she is grinning as if amused.

Toy safety

To check if a toy is unsafe or to report a toy-related injury, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website or call 800-638-2772.

Safety tips

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that you avoid:

  • Toys with small removable parts. Use a small-parts tester (available at the Safety Center and at toy and baby stores). If the piece fits inside the tube, it’s a choking hazard.
  • Toys with sharp points or edges.
  • Toys that make loud noises.
  • Propelled toy darts and other projectiles.
  • Toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches.
  • Toy cap guns with paper roll, strip or ring caps.
  • Toys with a heating element — batteries, electrical plugs — for children younger than 8. If toys for younger children have batteries, compartment lids should be screwed on.
  • Toys with lead paint.
  • Toys with small magnets.

Choosing toys for your child’s age

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends these toys to make sure your child can play safely and still be challenged and entertained:

  • Activity quilts
  • Stuffed animals without button noses or eyes
  • Bath toys
  • Soft dolls
  • Cloth books
  • Squeaky toys
  • Baby swings
  • Books
  • Blocks
  • Fit-together toys
  • Balls
  • Push-and-pull toys
  • Pounding toys
  • Shape toys
  • Nontoxic art supplies
  • Books
  • Videos
  • Musical instruments
  • Outdoor toys such as a baseball tee, slide or swing
  • Craft materials
  • Jump ropes
  • Puppets
  • Books
  • Electric trains (after age 8)
  • Sports equipment

To be safe:

  • Check electrical and battery-operated toys regularly for loose or exposed wires.
  • Don’t let your child change batteries.
  • Computers
  • Microscopes
  • Table and board games
  • Sports equipment

To be safe:

  • Make sure older children’s toys are kept out of reach of younger children.

Safety on sleds and wheels

Use these tips to keep your child safe on bikes, trikes, scooters, skates, skateboards or sleds:

  • Make sure your child wears an approved helmet that fits.
  • Make sure your child has other safety gear, such as elbow and knee pads.
  • Outfit your child in bright or reflective clothes.
  • Put reflectors or reflective stickers on whatever they’re riding.
  • Make sure your child’s bike, trike or scooter has a horn or bell.
  • Teach your child how to ride safely.
  • Take your child to lessons in activities you may not be good at, such as in-line skating.
  • Make sure your child rides on well-made equipment. Keep it maintained.

Lawn mower safety

  • Keep your child far enough from a running mower that expelled rocks or debris aren’t a danger.
  • Keep children younger than 5 inside during mowing.
  • Teach your child that mowers are not toys. Don’t let your child play around one even when it’s not running.
  • Before mowing, check the lawn for anything the mower might fling at high speed.
  • Don’t cut wet grass.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Always push the mower forward, never pull it toward you. Mow slopes across, not up and down.
  • Don’t let passengers on a riding mower or its trailer.
  • Look behind you before shifting a riding mower into reverse.
  • Never drink alcohol and run a mower.
  • Be familiar with the owner’s manual.
  • Do routine maintenance at the start of each season and before each use. Go over the entire mower, especially the blades.
  • Check safety features often.
  • Repair or replace loose or broken parts.
  • Replace your mower if it needs too much maintenance.

Poison Safety

Mr. Yuk sticker

Visit the Safety Center’s nonprofit store to get free Mr. Yuk stickers (image at right) and to buy a locking medicine-storage option.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
  • Keep medications, cleaning products, bug killers, fertilizers and fuels where your child can’t reach them. This could be a high shelf, locked cupboard or sealed area such as an attic, basement or shed. Store dangerous substances in only a few places.
  • If your child is young enough that you need locks on drawers, cabinets and doors, our nonprofit Safety Store has a variety to choose from.
  • Put the Oregon Poison Center phone number — 800-222-1222 — on every caregiver’s cellphone and your home phone. Text “poison” to 797979 for a link to add it to your smartphone automatically. Visit the Poison Center website for more information.

Gun safety

Visit the Safety Center’s nonprofit store to buy a locking gun-storage option.

  • Never leave a gun, loaded or unloaded, unattended.
  • Store guns in a locked cabinet, case or drawer. Remove the ammunition and make sure the chamber is empty.
  • Store ammunition separately from the gun.
  • Teach your child that a gun is not a toy.
  • Teach your child to never touch a gun and to tell an adult if they find one.
  • Children should not use BB guns.

Contact us

503-418-5666
safety@ohsu.edu

Hours and location

9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays or by appointment.

Doernbecher Children's Hospital

700 S.W. Campus Drive
Portland, Oregon 97239

Resources

Visit our Safety Resources page to find brochures you can download and links to safety products in our nonprofit store.

Presentation requests

Fill out a form to request a custom presentation:

Help us keep children safe