How to Grand-proof Your Home for the Holidays

You haven’t seen them in nearly a year. And they’ll be arriving in just a week to stay through Christmas and New Year’s.

They’re bigger now, but still pre-schoolers. Looking around your family room, you realize life with grandchildren who are 4 and 2 will be a whole lot more hectic than it is with just the two of you.

How on earth can you grand-proof your home?

The Costco Connection has some very practical ideas to make your grandchildren’s visit a safe and happy one. Let’s go through your house by room:

Bathroom: Start with doors of all kinds. While it’s probably easiest just to use masking tape to make sure all medicine chests stay closed, you will want to consider purchasing some removable kid-proof locks available at most mass merchandisers. Here’s a hint: you can usually get a package of two or three – also great for overly inquisitive pets – for around $4 plus tax.

You’ll want to stash anything potentially harmful to small children. This includes bath products, makeup, first-aid supplies and toiletries. They love intriguing bottles of fragrance or after-shave, so now’s the time to relocate your favorites. You’ll also want to make sure that you can always unlock all bathroom doors from outside the room. Avoid unattended lit candles in the bathroom – or any other area – when youngsters are in the house.

Kitchen: The room where so many delicious treats are born is a minefield of sorts for toddlers and crawlers. Go through your cupboards and cabinets and look for potentially harmful chemicals such as drain cleaner or insect traps. Use some of the safety latches you bought to keep small hands out of harm’s way. You will also want to consider adding a lock to your dishwasher. If you use the top of your stove or range as a surface on which to store pots or pans, keep the handles turned toward the back of the appliance. Also think about temporarily removing any range knobs within reach.

The inside of a refrigerator isn’t the only hazardous area. If you have small magnets or gizmos affixed to the outside of the door, put them away for this visit. Make sure any trash cans have tight lids or store them behind closed doors.

If you feed Morris or Lassie in the kitchen, consider moving pet dishes to areas the kids can’t reach but that are easily accessible to the animals. To avoid stressing your pets even more than the visit itself, move their dishes a few days before your relatives arrive.

Table coverings such as placemats and tablecloths are really fun for tug of war if you’re still too young for kindergarten. Stash them and bring them out at mealtime.

Family room: If you have a fireplace, it’s probably in this room. Make sure you use a screen and keep matches out of reach. Gas valves should stay covered, or you can remove the key.

General: You could find any of these hazards in several places in your home.

1. Medications: Lock them up. Don’t even think twice. Make sure you include over-the-counter items as well as prescriptions.

2. Firearms: Remove and store ammunition separately. Put any keys in an area only you can reach. Make sure all firearms are locked up and away from the children.

3. Poison: Post the poison control number somewhere prominent. It’s 1-800-222-1222.

4. Electricity: Use plates or covers on all unused outlets and make sure cords from lamps and appliances are out of the grandkids’ grasp. Keep holiday lights out of reach.

5. Windows: Consider installing window guards in rooms above street level.

6. Plants: Some can be poisonous, so be safe and move all of them away from small hands.

7. Knickknacks: Kids love ’em. They go for jewelry, batteries, coins, or marbles. You need to remove them to avoid the possibility of choking.

8. Doors: Use various latches or gates to keep kids out of any rooms you can’t make 100 percent safe. Make sure they don’t have access to doors leading to a basement, garage, or even outside your home.

9. Cords: Be sure to tie up any tassels from curtains and blinds.

10. Plastic bags: They’re a suffocation risk, so store them out of reach – even sandwich bags.

11. Furniture: If you have heavy pieces such as lamps, make sure to secure them so they won’t tip over on your visitors.

12. Stairs: Kids love to explore, so make sure you use safety gates both at the top and at the bottom of any stairs.

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