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Pediatrics. 2007 Aug;120(2):e346-53. Epub 2007 Jul 3.

Home safety in inner cities: prevalence and feasibility of home safety-product use in inner-city housing.

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Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Residential injuries cause significant morbidity and mortality in infants and young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends initiating injury-prevention counseling during health supervision visits in the first 6 months of life. The objectives of this study were to describe and compare self-reported and observed home safety practices in urban, low-income families who were expecting or had a child <12 months old and to assess the feasibility of using safety products depending on the design and repair of urban homes.


Women who were pregnant or had an infant <12 months old and who were enrolled in East Baltimore's Healthy Start home-visiting program were eligible for the study. For this pilot project, we used a prospective predesign/postdesign. Maternal self-report and investigator home observations documented the use of working smoke alarms on each level of the home, stair gates or doors blocking the top and bottom of all staircases, adult medication storage in locked cabinets, and the environmental feasibility of safety-product use.


Home safety practices were higher by maternal self-report than by investigator observation. Fifty-five percent of families who reported a working smoke alarm on every level of the home had nonworking or absent smoke alarms noted during investigator observation. Of assessed staircases, 67% could not accommodate a wall-mounted gate at the top of the stairs, and 38% could not accommodate a pressure-mounted gate at the bottom of the stairs. Although most families reported locked storage of medications, 77% had unlocked medication storage documented during home observation.


In this sample of urban families, implementation of American Academy of Pediatrics-recommended safety practices is low. The structural design of urban homes may be a significant barrier to home safety-product use. The American Academy of Pediatrics Injury Prevention Program sheets, manufacturers of safety products, and legislators need to address injury-prevention issues unique to urban, low-income families.

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