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Safest cities for families with young children

UL, the global safety leader, commissioned a new study with Sperling's Best Places to evaluate specific criteria that determined which cities stand out in the areas of home, community and personal overall safety. The results showcase the top 10 "Safest Cities for Families with Young Children" - those that excelled in helping prevent needless accidents and improve the safety of their residents, especially families with young children.

  • Boston
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Minneapolis, Minn.
  • New York
  • Portland, Ore.
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Virginia Beach, Va.

Whether your city made the list or not, UL is providing easy tips anyone can use to reduce preventable accidents in the home and create safety-conscious behaviors that can last a lifetime. Here are the top steps you can take today to improve your family's safety tomorrow.

  • See what your child sees: To avoid preventable hazards, get down on your hands and knees to see what children see both inside and outside the home. Search for objects or situations that may endanger children who will be at your home. Pay attention to sharp corners, dangling cords and any objects that may encourage children to climb or that may be a tripping hazard.
  • Make sure furniture is stable on its own: Every day, nearly 40 children visit the emergency room with injuries after a heavy piece of furniture - like a TV - has fallen on them.  For added security in your home, anchor to the floor or attach all entertainment units, TV stands, bookcases, shelving and bureaus to the wall using appropriate hardware, such as brackets, screws or toggles.
  • Create a fire escape plan: In addition to having a smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area, draw a simple floor plan of your home. On it, mark two exits from every room, including windows, and an outside family assembly point, such as a driveway or parking lot. Write "Call 911" on the escape plan and post it in a central location, such as a refrigerator door.
  • Beware of candles: According to the National Fire Protection Association, the small flame of a candle causes approximately 15,000 home fires a year. If you have young children and pets, stop using candles or always blow them out before leaving a room.
  • Setting your water heater to 120°F or less: To avoid preventable burns and scalds from hot water, make sure your water heater's temperature is set below 120°F or set to "low." Anything above that temperature can cause a child severe burns within seconds. According to national burn statistics, approximately 2.4 million burn injuries are reported every year.
  • Reinforce the safe way to play on the play set: With school back in session, make sure your children know the right way to use equipment. Use both hands on swings; slide down the slide feet first; and don't stand on the see-saw.
  • Identify your family's "ICE" - the "in case of emergency" contact: If you have a cell phone, program your emergency contact as "ICE." ICE is recognized by police and first responders across the nation. In addition, identify an out-of-town contact. In a disaster situation, he or she may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • Prevent poisoning: Keep harmful products and medicines out of children's reach, storing items in their original containers and properly using child-resistant packaging. Make sure personal care items, medicines and household cleaners are out of reach.
  • Pool supervision is a must: Each year more than 250 children under the age of five drown, most frequently in home swimming pools. Follow the 10/20 rule with your little ones. The 10/20 rule states that the supervising adult should always be able to scan the pool within 10 seconds and reach the water within 20 seconds.
  • Improve your home's air quality: Prevent mold growth with good ventilation and use low-VOC paints and furnishings. Check that appliances and any fireplace or woodstove is properly vented to the outside of your home. Consider using plants to clean your air - most houseplants absorb pollutants while adding oxygen to the air.
  • When riding a bike, wear a bike helmet: While a law in many states, parents need to require their child wear a helmet at all times, and should set the example by wearing a helmet, too.
  • Be aware of product recalls: Make sure your have up-to-date information on recalled toys and children's products. Always follow manufacturers' age recommendations and only let your child play with age appropriate toys.