As a parent, from the moment your child is born you begin to worry about his or her safety. Keeping a child safe from harm is not always easy. The average household is full of potential hazards that pose a threat to a baby or young child. However, all it takes is a few simple alterations to make your home safe. By taking these measures, you can significantly reduce the amount of accidents your children experience in their early years.
Step 1: Think Like a Child
Childproofing means locking, securing, relocating or removing anything that may pose a potential danger to a child. To understand these dangers, get down to a child's level to see the room from his or her perspective. Take a good look at items on the floor, at eye level, and at higher items that may pose a threat or entice a child to explore. Make a list of your childproofing priorities.
Step 2: Banish Hazards from the Bathroom
Many substances found in the bathroom are potentially unsafe. Even substances that are considered "safe" for adults, such as vitamins or aspirin, can be toxic and/or lethal to children. Keep all medications, topical ointments and creams, sharp beauty tools and cleaning products locked in the medicine cabinet or in a lockbox with a key. Place bath safe tread on the bottom of the bathtub to prevent falling. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees F or below to prevent scalding young skin. Purchase toilet locks and keep the lid closed when not in use.
Very common household items that are generally considered non-poisonous can harm a child if taken in large quantities. Examples include mouthwash and cosmetics.
Step 3: Create a Kid-Proof Kitchen
When cooking, turn pot handles to the back of the stove. Install "child-resistant" locks on all cabinets within the child's reach. Install dial covers on burner controls and special locks on the oven and refrigerator for added protection. Additionally, remove all cleaning fluids and agents from lower drawers and storage areas.
Step 4: Practice Fire Safety
Install smoke detectors on all levels of your home, including the basement and garage. Check and change the batteries regularly. When deciding where children should sleep, make sure one window is easily accessible. Use fire safety stickers from your local fire department to identify windows where a child may be sleeping.
Step 5: Make Windows Safer
A keyed sash lock allows you to control when windows are raised. This security measure will not only prevent your child from opening a window, but also protects your family against intrusions. Install the lock according to the manufacturer's instructions using a drill, grommet and a screwdriver. Test the window lock. The window should be secure and lock easily in either position. Install blind cord wind-ups to keep window cords out of reach.
Step 6: Safeguard Other Areas of the Home
Make sure you don't neglect the rest of your home when childproofing. Corner and edge guards are ideal for sharp edges on furniture and counters. To prevent dangerous falls, use a certified child or pet safety gate at the top and bottom of stairs and around fireplaces. If you're concerned the gaps between railings on stairs or at landings are wide enough for a child to crawl through and want to block them, install special mesh guards designed for this purpose. To prevent your child from accessing dangerous objects and from hurting their hands and fingers, install "child-resistant" locks and/or special slam stoppers on drawers, cabinets and doors within the child's reach. Additionally, use brackets to attach portable shelves and TV sets and stands to the wall to prevent them from falling or being pulled onto children.
Step 7: Ensure Electrical/Door Safety
Install sturdy plug protectors on all electrical outlets and knob covers on doors to protect your children from reaching potentially unsafe areas such as utility rooms, bathrooms and the garage. Keep all electrical and phone cords bundled and out of reach using a cord and cable bundler.
Step 8: Childproof the Exterior of Your Home
Never leave your child outdoors unattended. For added protection, make sure your home's exterior fencing and railings are free of sharp or jagged edges, splinters, and protruding nails. Remove peeling paint from your home's siding with a paint scraper. Fill holes with concrete or asphalt in your driveway, and fix or replace decaying steps and deck boards that might cause a child to trip and fall. Have a first aid kit handy at all times.
If your home was built before 1978, test the exterior with a lead testing kit to determine whether it contains any lead-based paint. Lead poses a serious health hazard, especially to children and pregnant women. To protect yourself and your family, avoid scraping or sanding lead-based paint.
Great job! You've completed tasks necessary to reduce your child's likelihood of serious injury.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.
- Lockbox with key
- Bath safe tread
- Toilet locks
- Child-resistant locks
- Dial covers
- Oven and refrigerator locks
- Smoke detectors
- Fire safety stickers
- Keyed sash lock
- Blind cord wind-ups
- Corner and edge guards
- Child or pet safety gate
- Mesh railing guards
- Door slam stoppers
- Plug protectors
- Knob covers
- Cord/cable bundler
- Paint scraper
- First-aid kit
- Lead testing kit (for homes built before 1978)