Smart Ways to Child-Proof Your Home
If you think keeping your babies home is all you have to do to keep them safe, you might want to think again. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, about 4.5 million children under the age of 14 are injured in their own homes each year. Of these, 2,700 suffer fatal injuries. If you want your house to be a safe haven for your children, read on to find out how to baby-proof and child-proof your home.
First you’ll want to look at each room from a toddler’s vantage point. Get down on the floor and look around from all angles, at all the enticing objects, notice any curiosity-provoking cords, consider precariously balanced heavy furniture that they might somehow pull over on themselves. This will give you a better idea of what you’re up against. Let’s start with some general precautions and then go room by room and take care of all the possible dangers.
Open Electrical Outlets: Plug them up using some inexpensive plastic safety plugs that insert into unused outlets. These can be found at most any hardware or home improvement store, even possibly your grocery store.
Accessible Electrical Cords: Inspect all cords to be sure there are no frayed or cracked areas; wrap any questionable areas with black electrical tape. If possible, run cords behind heavy furniture or tack them high up on a wall. Secure table lamp cords to the table with cord guards. Even if these cords are noticably prominant in the room – remember it’s only temporary until your little ones grow up a bit.
Window Blind Cords: If the cords on your blinds have enough slack for Junior to put his head through, then there is the potential to strangle him. If possible, bind the blind cords up high out of your child's reach. Many new blind styles have safety caps that pull apart easily to avoid strangulation if your child should get tangled up in one.
Doors: Make sure your doors latch completely; repair if necessary. Using special plastic doorknob covers makes it impossible for little ones to turn the knob.
Drawers, Closets and Cabinets: All drawers within reach of little ones should be fitted with latches that prevent the drawer from opening more than an inch or so. Latches for closets and cabinets should also be installed to keep inquisitive fingers out.
Stairway Railings and Landings: If the space between the rails is big enough for your child to stick his head through, it’s wide enough for him to get his head stuck! Even worse, he or she might even fall through. There’s no pretty fix for this one but you can string mesh between the railings to keep your child from fitting his or her head through. Invest in some good, sturdy doorway gates from a baby or department store. These are great in keeping little ones from tumbling downstairs or getting into other dangers.
Freestanding Furniture & Bookcases: You may think that your grandfather clock or glass curio cabinet is too heavy for your toddler to budge, but you might be shocked to find he or she climbing up and pulling it over on themselves. More than one freestanding piece of furniture or bookcase has fallen over on a curious toddler. Any furniture of this type should be bolted to the wall or floor, or removed until your child is old enough to know better.
Furniture Corners and Edges: I'm especially thinking coffee tables here. Many a clumbsy toddler just learning to walk has bashed their head into the sharp corner of a coffee table and been rushed to the hospital for stitches. Look for foam padded furniture edge covers at your local baby supply store. You may decide to just get by with a thick blanket over sharp-cornered furniture for the short, temporary time when your little one is susceptible to harm. Another thing that might suffice is plumbing insulation secured with duct tape.
Knick-Knacks: Why take a chance on losing Grandma's antique Hummel and having your child get cut with it too? It would be better to just store these away for awhile, or if you have the option they could be displayed on shelves high above little ones’ heads. In addition to the knick-knacks, be careful to keep other small objects like coins, paper clips, matches, keys, batteries -- anything lying around that your toddler can choke on -- out of reach.
Kitchen: Knob covers for the stove and barriers that keep little inquisitive hands off the hot surface are available at baby and department stores. Oven latches keep little ones from opening a hot oven door. You can also purchase latches for your refrigerator if it does not have its own locking mechanism. Toddlers find these to be fun hiding spots that can be deadly because your child will be unable to open the door once locked inside. You might want to forego using tablecloths for a while to avoid your toddler pulling down and being injured by falling dishes. Plastic grocery bags and plastic produce wrap should be carefully disposed of right away to prevent asphyxiation. It's best to use a kitchen trash can that fits under the sink or has a tight-fitting lid. When placing a child in a high chair, always use the restraining straps.
Here's a list of important phone numbers to always have tacked to your refrigerator:
**Poison Control Center - (Become familiar with poison control and never use Syrup of Ipecac without the direction of a doctor or poison control specialist.)
**Local Fire Department
**Local Police Department
**Your Doctor’s Office
Bathroom: Install a plastic toilet lock. Store your bathroom trash can up high or in a locked cabinet. Make sure that any and all over-the-counter as well as prescription medications are stored high above the floor in a latched cabinet. (Medicine looks like candy to little ones.) All cleaning products should likewise be stored up high and in a locked closet or cabinet. You might want to install a special water thermometer to make sure the bathwater doesn’t scald the baby. Never, never, never leave a baby or toddler in a bathtub unattended, not even for a minute!! Use nonskid bathmats or appliques to prevent slipping. Bathtub faucet covers will prevent little ones from accidentally turning the water on.