Home Safety: Childproofing Your Home
Most people think of home as a place of safety and security. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case for small children. In fact, studies indicate that most childhood injuries occur in the home. However, many of these injuries can be prevented by taking a few simple and inexpensive precautions.
Start by getting down on your hands and knees to see the world from your child’s perspective. Move from room to room, keeping an eye out for potential problems, such as open electrical outlets, dangling power cords or sharp objects.
The good news is that childproofing your home has never been easier. Protect your child by following these simple guidelines:
In the Kitchen
- Use safety latches and locks on all cabinets and drawers, as well as ovens and dishwashers. (Never store household cleaners and chemicals in lower-level cabinets—even if locked.)
- Unplug appliances—such as coffee makers and toaster ovens—when not in use and store them out of children’s reach.
- Keep all knives and other sharp kitchen tools completely out of reach.
- Remove stove knobs or use a stove guard to help protect curious hands from burns and scalds.
- Cook on back burners whenever possible, and remember to turn pot and pan handles toward the wall.
- Remove refrigerator magnets, which could create a choking hazard.
In the Bathroom
- Never leave your child alone in the bathtub—even for a moment.
- Set your water heater to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding.
- Use a soft faucet cover to avoid bumps and bruises during bathtime, and line the tub with a nonslip mat or strips to prevent falls.
- Secure all toilets with a lid lock.
- Request childproof lids at the pharmacy, and store all medicines in a locked cabinet.
- Use a childproof doorknob cover or install emergency releases on the outside of your bathroom door, so kids can’t lock themselves in.
In the Bedroom
- Be sure your baby’s crib meets all current standards and that the mattress fits tight enough to prevent your child from slipping in between the mattress and side rails.
- Avoid placing loose items in your child’s crib (including bumpers, pillows and stuffed animals), which may pose a threat of suffocation or strangulation.
- Always use your changing table’s safety straps when diapering your baby, and never leave your child unattended on the table.
- Check all toys for small parts, and avoid using night-lights with small plastic bulbs, which could create a choking hazard.
- Avoid toy boxes with heavy hinged lids, which could pinch small fingers or trap a child inside. Instead, choose one with a lightweight, removable lid (or one that slides easily) and ventilation holes—just in case.
In the Living Room
- Secure heavy furniture and mount televisions to the wall to prevent little ones from pulling them over on themselves.
- Avoid glass-topped tables, and use bumpers to cover any piece of furniture or fireplace hearth with sharp corners or edges.
- Keep all plants out of children’s reach.
- Use power cord holders to protect your child from electrocution or strangulation.
- Secure all window treatments and blind cords with safety cord winders, and never place a child’s crib or playpen near a window with blinds.
Around the House
- Install outlet covers or plates on every single exposed outlet to help prevent electrocution. And avoid the small plastic variety, which can pose a choking hazard if pried loose.
- Use safety gates to protect your child from falling down steps or to keep them out of dangerous or high-traffic areas, such as the kitchen. Look for gates that can be secured to the wall, as opposed to “pressure gates.”
- Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors, and be sure to change the batteries on a regular basis.
In the Car
- Be sure your child’s car seat meets all industry standards, and be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines and directions.
- Never leave your child alone in the car—even for a moment.
- Use power window locks whenever possible, and teach children not to play with power window switches.
- Be sure your child’s hands and feet are safely clear of windows and sunroof before activating switches.