Childproofing Your Home

If you have a baby, it is critical to make your home into a child-safe environment. It is also important to childproof your home if you have babies or toddlers who visit.

Childproofing is not a one-time event. As children mature, they get new abilities and are able to access new things. In addition, it is important to regularly review your home for changes that may affect safety issues.

Potential dangers

Hazardous materials: It is very important to make sure anything that could be harmful to a child is locked up and out of reach. While many people know medicines, poisons and cleaning chemicals are potentially dangerous to a child, others overlook some common hazards. Lock up vitamins, over the counter remedies, mouthwash, alcohol and even mild cleaning solutions; ingestion of any of these substances can be extremely dangerous. Consider placing these substances on a high shelf that is also protected by a lock.

Sharp things, heavy things: The kitchen is full of objects that are not safe for baby to play with. Use safety latches on drawers, cupboards and pantry closets to prevent children from getting into anything dangerous, or just making a mess by emptying the cupboards. Consider leaving one cupboard of harmless objects – plastic containers, lids, cups and spoons – unlocked for your toddler to access.

Electrical hazards: A variety of safety devices are available for protecting children from outlets and power strips. Inexpensive plastic plugs can be placed in outlets to keep little fingers from poking into them, sliding outlet covers protect but give adults ready access and other covers are designed to keep cords plugged in to outlets without allowing children to tug on them. Power strip cases keep fingers and other objects out of the multiple outlets and away from the power switch. Mount any loose hanging cords to keep children from accidentally pulling lamps or appliances down on themselves.

Stairs: Use safety gates at the bottom and top of staircases to keep children from traversing these areas alone. Make sure the gates used at the tops of staircases are hardware mounted as the pressure-mounted variety are not as secure.

Hot water: Many children are burned each year by water coming out of the hot water tap. Install anti-scald guards on faucets and reduce the temperature of the hot water heater to 120 degrees in order to reduce the danger.

Other water dangers: Any kind of standing water is a hazard to small children since they can drown in only a few inches of water. Swimming pools should be fenced and covered and children should never be left alone with access to water.

Windows and window coverings: High windows should always be covered with protective bars when they are open. Screens will not keep children from falling from windows. Cords for controlling window covering can also be hazardous as they may present strangulation opportunities unless they are equipped with safety tassels.

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