To simplify the frequently frustrating and confusing task of finding the right devices to keep children 3 years old and younger safe at home, Sanford Health, Sioux Falls, S.D., recently opened the Sanford Children's Safety Center.

The new safety center serves as a one-stop shopping and educational resource that allows parents to see, test and, if they wish, purchase safety devices in one place, says Kim Overby, director of Sanford Women's and Children's Community Programs.

"We know that in South Dakota, childhood unintentional injury is one of our primary concerns in the health and well-being of children," Overby says. "We researched safety centers at hospitals around the country and merged those ideas into what is now the safety center in Sioux Falls."

The safety center occupies about half of the original 1,200-square-foot Sanford Health CHILD Services center, which is located in a strip mall about a mile from the hospital, she says.

Several stations in the safety center representing different rooms in a home are set up so parents can see safety devices such as electrical outlet covers, door handle covers, oven knob covers, locking devices for drawers and cabinets, toilet latches, mesh netting for banisters and much more.

In addition, the center provides free educational information about common hazards found in a bathroom, safe traveling in cars and how to ensure safe sleeping. Suffocation in a crib or bed and falls are two of the most common injuries experienced by children younger than age 3, she explains.

Information also is available to help parents understand their children's developmental phases, how they learn to imitate adults and safety steps to consider as their kids grow and explore areas inside the home, Overby says.

Children's safety centers are becoming more common in hospitals throughout the United States, but nothing existed in South Dakota until Sanford opened one in February, she says.

"When the opportunity came to change the CHILD Services space, we decided to meet that need with the safety center," Overby adds.