PEMCO Insurance suggests simple – but often overlooked – child safety tips



​​​SEATTLE – While the vast majority of Northwest parents take common-sense steps to childproof their homes by covering electrical outlets and keeping harmful cleaners out of children’s reach, the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance finds that more can be done to protect kids and adults alike from potentially fatal household injuries.

The PEMCO poll found unattended staircases are a common safety hazard in many Northwest homes. While more than half of households – 55 percent in Washington and 51 percent in the Portland metro area – do place gates at the top of staircases to prevent an accidental tumble, fewer – about 40 percent – place gates at the bottom of stairs to block access and prevent kids from falling while climbing up.

According to a 2012 government study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidents – including burns, drowning, falls, and poisoning – are the leading cause of death among young people, which makes thorough childproofing an essential task for parents, said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg.

“Our poll showed people do well in some areas, less so in others, and there isn’t one at-home safety measure that’s universally adopted,” Osterberg said.

The poll revealed that less than one-quarter of Northwest households who have ever lived with kids under 5 years old use toilet-seat locks. The CDC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission say drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4, and it takes just a few inches of water for a young child to drown. Toilet-seat locks keep lids securely closed, which shields curious, poorly balanced toddlers from harm.

To keep kids safe, PEMCO recommends checking the following areas around your home if you’re a parent or if you plan to host small children:

  • Remove furniture with sharp corners, or cover corners with padding.
  • Secure cupboards with childproof locks.
  • Keep low-hanging window-blind cords beyond kids’ reach.
  • Cover electrical outlets.
  • Set hot water heaters to no more than 120 degrees.
  • Store chemicals and harmful cleaners out of reach.
  • Do not leave young children unattended while they’re in bathtubs, on toilets, near water buckets, or in swimming pools – even shallow inflatable pools.
  • Secure bookshelves and cabinets to walls (wise for earthquakes, as well).

“Half of the people polled in Washington and the Portland area who have lived with a child under 5 years old are at risk from unsecured cabinets that could topple in an earthquake, or from a child pulling them over and getting crushed,” Osterberg added.

About 80 percent of Northwest parents keep chemicals and poisons out of low cupboards, where kids can reach. About the same percent cover their electrical outlets.

To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and to view a summary of the results, visit, where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll and see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in October 2012.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll
PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington and Oregon drivers several questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 609 respondents in Washington and 401 respondents in the Portland, Ore., metro area, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent and +/- 5.0 percent respectively at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.

About PEMCO Insurance
PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, and umbrella insurance to Northwest residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold by community agents throughout the region and through PEMCO offices. For more information, visit