K.C. organization putting emphasis on child safety around the home
When it comes to keeping children safe within the home, there's always more parents can do.
A new organization in the Kansas City area wants to help by offering children's caretakers a hands-on look at common hazards that can be found in almost every household.
Charlie's Safe Haven is a nonprofit organization with a mission of teaching the importance of child safety by opening a demonstration house that provides caretakers with tips and products to make their own homes a safer environment.
"Kansas City needed this service," said Julie Fenwick, executive director of the organization. "It's an opportunity to provide parents with information that will hopefully decrease the number of accidental deaths of children."
When Fenwick gave birth to her first child, she was living in Australia. A friend suggested she visit a program similar to Charlie's that allows parents to walk through a home and have pointed out to them common hazards that may sometimes go overlooked. When she moved back to Kansas City, she realized a comparable program didn't exist and decided to take on the task to bring that resource to area caretakers.
Charlie's Safe Haven was named after Charlie Horn, a Kansas City 2-year-old who died in 2007 after a 30-inch dresser fell on top of him when he tried to climb to the top. Fenwick said that Charlie's parents have become extremely involved with the project and now sit on the board of directors.
"They're an amazing, amazing family," she said. "They were very excited to know there was hope out there for something to help other children."
Since officially becoming an organization in November 2007, Fenwick and other members of the board of directors have been busy raising funds to purchase a home that can be set up for family demonstrations.
Recently, Children's Mercy Family Health Partners presented Fenwick with a grant to further the development of what would be Kansas City's first child-safety house. No timeline has been set as to when a house will be purchased or when the actual demonstrations will begin. Fenwick said the focus is on research and fundraising to ensure the area receives the best quality of information.
Once the house is purchased, however, it will contain room-by-room displays highlighting dangers and various home-safety equipment to prevent accidents.
For example, Fenwick said in the nursery parents shouldn't put the crib too close to a window, lest a child try to crawl out of the crib and fall out the window. In the kitchen or dining room, burns are another serious concern. Fenwick suggested that caretakers avoid using tablecloths to prevent children from pulling hot plates off of the table. In other rooms, cords from window blinds should be kept out of reach to reduce the risk of choking.
In the Kansas City area, Fenwick said the major sources of accidental child injuries and deaths are from falls, burns, poison, hits from other children or running into furniture and walls, and being struck by a motor vehicle. Charlie's Safe Haven will focus on those five biggest concerns, she said, because those are the main reasons a place like the demonstration house is so important.
Overall, child safety comes down to simply knowing your child, Fenwick said. Knowing where they are at all times will keep them safe from motor vehicle and lawn mower accidents. And similarly, knowing the personality traits of your child - such as being prone to climbing on furniture - will prevent accidents.
"Parental supervision is the best prevention," Fenwick said. "You can't watch a child 24/7, but the more parental supervision, the less likely there is for an accident."