Unintentional household injuries are the #1 reason that children under the age of 4 are taken to hospital emergency departments. A child’s natural curiosity and sense of exploration can definitely get them into serious trouble, so it’s up to responsible adults to make their homes less dangerous for them.
The good news is that almost all of these injuries can be easily prevented. With a common sense approach, a little diligence and the help of some simple childproofing devices, the risk to young ones can be minimized significantly. The business of home childproofing has grown over the years and become more sophisticated than ever before, with many great products and services available for busy parents.
Scoping Out The Risks
The first step in assessing risk to children is to go through your home room by room and look for the most obvious hazards. These would include the following:
- Electrical cords, appliances & outlets
- Small objects that could pose a choking hazard
- Doorways, stairs, windows and other opportunities for falls
- Sources of heat
- Heavy objects & furniture
- Cribs & bedding
- Climbing risks
- Reachable items that could cause injury
As odd as it might sound, some experts suggest getting down on your hands and knees and moving around to get a better ‘kid’s eye’ view of the environment. You may be surprised at what you may discover from this new perspective.
Making A Plan
Once you have determined all of the potential dangers, it’s simply a matter of addressing each one effectively. Be sure that all family members are on-board with the measures that you put into place, so that no elements are forgotten. This should apply to houseguests too.
As children get older, it will be necessary to re-assess your safety plans. When kids get taller, stronger and more clever with age, your coverage will need to expand in order to keep up. There are many products available on the market now to help parents safeguard doorways, cupboards, stairways, faucets and electrical outlets. Don’t make any assumptions with regard to what children may or may not get into, and be sure to purchase enough materials for a comprehensive plan. If you’re not comfortable with the either the planning process or the installation of the safety features, you can also hire a childproofing consultant or company to do the work for you.
Hints & Tips
The following is a listing of some helpful things to remember when childproofing your home.
- The close supervision of children will always be the best way to prevent injuries in the home. It’s unrealistic to think that you can watch them every minute of every day, but your level of attention should be commensurate with a child’s age and mobility.
- Install stair gates at both the bottom and top of all stairways and be sure to secure them with hardware directly to a wall. Also keep key access doors and windows closed and latched where appropriate.
- Up to a certain age, kids will put just about anything into their mouths. Be sure to keep any small items that might pose a choking hazard out of reach at all times. This would include coins, marbles, hard candies, decorative items, paper clips or toy parts etc.
- As children become more mobile, pay extra attention to areas where they could potentially pull items down onto themselves from up above. Pulling on loose electrical cords, tablecloths or pot handles can easily cause a serious injury. In cases where certain pieces of furniture are unstable or top-heavy, it’s also a good idea to bracket them to a wall for support.
- Be sure that there is no access to items that generate heat such as fireplaces, wood stoves, space heaters, radiators or furnaces
- Use plastic covers for all electrical outlets that may be within reach
- Secure all cupboards, drawers and appliances with childproof locking devices that prevent little ones from opening them. There are any number of common household items that could harm a child including knives and sharp utensils, cleaning supplies, laundry or dish detergent, vitamins and medications or even kitchen spices.
- Use doorstops or door holders to protect children’s fingers from getting caught
- Remove items that could potentially smother a child such as plastic shopping bags, heavy blankets or dry cleaning bags
- Be sure that all toys are age appropriate and do not have features or parts that could harm a child
- Be sure that cribs meet all safety standards and that any graduated bedding is set up in such a way that children cannot fall out or smother within blankets
- Remove or secure window covering cords or any long extension cords that could potentially strangle a child
- Install toilet seat locks throughout your home to ensure that toddlers can’t fall in and drown
- If you own weapons of any kind, ensure that they are completely out of reach and secured in locked cases
- NEVER leave young children unattended in a bathtub or leave water in the tub when not in use. Use non-slip mats, a soft cover for the spout and covers for the knobs for added safety. You can also turn your water heater down to a temperature that won’t cause scalds.
Childproofing your home and maintaining a safe environment is not a difficult task, but it is one that is absolutely necessary. Be consistent with your methods, and you can help to avoid a potentially tragic accident.