Childproof Your Home to Keep Toddlers Safe
As babies learn to crawl and walk, their curiosity and newfound freedom can lead them in many directions. Sometimes they end up in dangerous situations or places that can have tragic consequences, which is why childproofing is so important. Most toddlers begin crawling between 7 and 10 months, so it’s important to childproof your home before they reach that milestone.
Here are some tips compiled from the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission, Safe Start Baby, Home Safety Guru Louie Delaware and Child Safe Home, a local childproofing agency. Follow these tips to keep your toddler safe as he or she explores the house and discovers all sorts of new and exciting things.
– Use safety gates that screw into the wall at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent falls.
– Limit gaps in windows to 4 inches to prevent falls. Screens are not adequate window protectors — use window guards and safety netting.
– Cushion sharp corners of furniture and hearths with corner and edge bumpers to soften the blow of falls onto these areas.
– Keep furniture away from windows and stairs where children could fall if they climb the furniture.
– Don’t leave a child on a changing table, even for a moment, because they can roll over quickly. Gather all materials necessary for changing before putting the child on the table so you won’t have to turn your back.
– Be aware of any standing source of water, including pools, hot tubs, toilets, bath tubs and utility buckets, as children can drown in as little as 1 inch of water. Toilet locks are available to keep lids down.
– Never leave a child unattended in the bath. Gather all the materials you need for bath time prior to putting your child in the tub so you don’t have to leave or look away.
– Enclose pools with a 4-foot-tall fence that has child safety latches. If one side of the pool’s perimeter includes a wall of the house with a door, the door should be hooked up to an alarm to alert parents and supervisors of when the pool is being accessed.
Kitchens and bathrooms
– There are many dangerous items stored in these two rooms, including poisons, knives and glass. Keep unsafe items out of a child’s reach and use safety latches and locks to conceal potentially harmful items.
– Turn pot handles toward the wall so toddlers cannot grab them and pull them on top of themselves.
– Activate (or install) oven and dishwasher locks so children cannot access these appliances.
– Avoid hanging dish towels on oven handles, since children might use them to pull the oven door down.
– Insert silverware sharp-side down in the dishwasher to prevent cuts.
– Lock up or put away spices since some can be harmful if consumed in unusual quantities, such as salt and cinnamon.
– Keep magnets off the refrigerator; they can be a choking hazard.
Strangulation and suffocation
– Cordless window coverings prevent the risk of children getting tangled up in cords for blinds, which can be fatal. If you have blinds from 2000 or before, call the Window Covering Safety Council at 800-506-4636 or visit windowcoverings.org for a free repair kit. Older blinds used exposed or dangling cords, and newer technology allows you to retrofit the cords or replace them with more modern, safer products that keep cords out of reach.
– Keep plastic bags, such as shopping bags, dry cleaning bags and even Ziplocs out of reach to prevent suffocation.
– Ensure that outlets are properly protected with outlet covers or plates. Make sure outlet covers aren’t small enough to be a choking hazard.
– Keep cords wrapped up around small appliances when not in use.
– Keep all electrical cords away from water, faucets and bathtubs.
– A good rule of thumb is if an object can fit inside a toilet paper roll tube, it’s possible for a child to choke on it.
– Remove and replace the rubber tips from doorstops, which are major chocking hazards, with one-piece doorstops that have no removable pieces.
– Use doorknob covers to keep children from injuring their fingers while opening or closing doors and to prevent them from entering a room with dangerous objects. Choose a doorknob cover that can be opened quickly by an adult in case of emergencies.
Burning and Fire
– Use anti-scald devices for showerheads and faucets to prevent burns. Keep your water heater set at 120 degrees.
– Get into the habit of using back burners on the oven range whenever possible. Back burners are the burners on the stove furthest from the front of the range and closest to the wall. This reduces the risk of children burning their fingers or hands when they reach up to touch the front of the stove.
– Use smoke and monoxide alarms, and ensure that batteries are fresh.
– Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
– Use anchors to attach large furniture to the floor or walls to prevent those pieces from tipping over. Pay special attention to TV stands, bookcases, dressers and ranges.
– Never hang mirrors or pictures over a child’s crib or bed.
Poisoning and other dangers
– If you are ever concerned about something a child ingests, call the Poison and Drug Control Center at 800-222-1222. Anyone who has a child in his or her care should have this number on hand.
– Keep all medication, firearms and weapons locked away and out of sight.
Corinne Jurney is an intern at Carolina Parent and junior at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in public policy and journalism.