THERE ARE TWO STEPS EVERYONE CAN TAKE TO PROTECT CHILDREN AT HOME.
- FIRST, CHILDPROOF YOUR HOME -- EITHER ON YOUR OWN OR WITH THE HELP OF A PROFESSIONAL CHILDPROOFER. TAKING STEPS TO MAKE THE HOME ENVIRONMENT SAFER FOR YOUR CHILD TO GROW AND DEVELOP SHOULD BE A NUMBER ONE PRIORITY!
- SOME INJURIES ARE UNAVOIDABLE, BUT WHY NOT CONTROL THEIR SEVERITY AND FREQUENCY IF YOU CAN?
- NOT ONLY WILL CHILDPROOFING YOUR HOME PREVENT INJURIES, IT WILL GIVE YOU MORE PEACE OF MIND WHILE ALLOWING YOUR INCREASINGLY MOBILE AND NATURALLY CURIOUS BABY TO EXPLORE MORE FREELY -- ALONG WITH NOT HEARING "NO!" AND BEING CHASED EVERY 3 MINUTES.
- SECOND, UNDERSTAND THAT CHILDPROOFING CAN NEVER BE 100 PERCENT EFFECTIVE. THAT'S WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO SUPERVISE YOUR CHILDREN AT ALL TIMES, ESPECIALLY AROUND WATER, IN THE KITCHEN AND BATHROOM, AND WHEREVER KNOWN HAZARDS EXIST.
AROUND THE HOUSE
- If you have animals in the home, separate animals' food from baby. Dog or cat doors should be blocked off from baby.
- Tablecloths hanging over table edges can be pulled down on top of baby, along with whatever is sitting on the tablecloth.
- Remove all accessible wicker baskets or frequently check them for sharp edges and remove pieces which are easily picked off.
- Keep dangerous objects away from the edges of tables and countertops where baby might be able to reach up and grab them.
- Exercise equipment and babies are not compatible. Babies can get their fingers stuck in the spokes of exercise bikes or gears, or they can pull weights onto themselves. With so many small movable parts, keep baby and exercise equipment separate.
- SEE BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS WHEN CHILDPROOFING YOUR HOME
USE SAFETY GATES
- Gates should be installed in all entryways which parents want off-limits to baby as well as in all accessible stairways that either do not have a door to close and lock, or parents prefer a gate vs. always keeping the door shut and locked. High traffic areas should have easy-to-access swing-through gates, while pressure gates (which are more difficult to access, and may involve removal each time you use it) are more appropriate for lower traffic areas. Some stairways which have other than straight wall-to-wall mounting surfaces (steel or wooden banisters, non-level mounting surfaces) will limit the gate options and likely require wood mounts to install. A professional childproofer will advise you of your gate options, and will recommend gates which best meet your needs and preferences. Installing a gate yourself is always an option, but is not recommended; gates improperly installed will not perform as they were intended, and may present more of an injury risk.
- Children should not be allowed to jump or climb on gate (to the extent that this is possible), as this can lead to poor gate performance, damage to the gate and/or injury.
CHECK FOR FIRE HAZARDS
- Look for frayed electrical wires or flammable materials near heat sources such as space heaters. Never run electrical cords under rugs. Make sure that your home, and any home your child visits, has working smoke alarms in every sleeping area and on every level. Check the alarms for function monthly, and at minimum replace batteries annually.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and check batteries often. Exposure to even low levels of this poisonous gas can be fatal to a small child.
COVER ELECTRICAL OUTLETS
- Cover all child-accessible electrical outlets. Worrisome plugs in outlets or power strips can also be covered.
- Replace broken/missing receptacle cover plates.
CHECK ALL WINDOWS
- Install window guards (bars) on all windows which may be opened; use guards which can be easily removed if needed for an emergency exit.
- Use window stops to prevent open windows from opening beyond 3-1/2 inches high. If you want windows to open freely, you must use window guards.
- For windows which will not be opened: keep locked. If child can use lock, install another lock which cannot be operated by child.
- Install latches or locks on all cabinets, drawers and doors which are accessible to baby and may contain harmful items.
- Young children love to climb on furniture and use drawers and shelves as steps. However, children can sustain crush injuries as furniture can easily tip over on them.
- Secure tall bookcases, shelving, and unstable heavy furniture to walls (into studs) with furniture brackets and/or anchors. Test furniture for stability, especially for tall pieces or if item is positioned on thick carpet. For furniture with drawers, open bottom 2-3 drawers and press down on open drawers to test for tipping. Some items may be made stable by propping up front edge/legs of furniture.
- When storing items, put heavier items on bottom shelves and in bottom drawers.
- Tall lamps or coat racks should be removed or blocked by furniture to keep from baby.
- Supervise children at all times around furniture.
- Cover sharp corners and edges of tables or shelves with foam edge and corner cushions.
- Glass panels in coffee tables can break under the weight of a baby. Remove the table or replace the glass with plexiglas.
SECURE LARGE & HEAVY ITEMS (i.e. TV'S, MICROWAVES, FISH TANKS, APPLIANCES)
- Large items such as TV's, microwaves, fish tanks and appliances can topple off stands and fall on children. Use broad-based carts/stands for TVs and appliances. Secure large items which may tip forward onto stand/base with safety straps (see Catalog Section, under "Audio/Visual").
- Anchor unstable stands, carts and appliances to wall (into studs) with appropriate furniture brackets or anchors.
- Avoid using pedestal tables to hold heavy items.
KEEP ALL POISONS AND POISONOUS PLANTS OUT OF CHILDREN'S REACH
- Plants and their soil/fertilizer can be poisonous, so keep baby and plants separated. Baby can also pull leaves or stems off and choke on them, or pull the entire plant down on top of them.
- Have a 1 ounce bottle of ipecac syrup for each of your children, but DO NOT USE IT UNLESS TOLD TO DO SO BY THE POISON CONTROL CENTER OR A PHYSICIAN.
- NATIONAL POISON HOTLINE: 1-800-222-1222
CHECK ALL WINDOW COVERING CORDS
- Infants and toddlers can pull on inner blind cords creating loops large enough to pull around their necks and strangle. When purchasing window coverings, make sure that the pull cords do not have loops. Consider purchasing cordless window coverings.
- If you have cords that are attached at the bottom that forms a loop, cut the cord above the tassel, remove the buckle, and add a safety tassel at the end of each cord. Looped pull cords on vertical blinds and certain draperies cannot be cut and still operate. A tie-down device or cleat must be used to reduce a child's access to the loop. Free window safety kits that include safety tassels and tie-down devices with instructions are available for consumers. To order a free window safety kit, click on the link or call the Window Covering Safety Council at 1-800-506-4636.
CHECK WIDTH BETWEEN POSTS IN STAIR, BALCONY AND OUTDOOR DECK RAILINGS
- Install plexiglas, flexible plastic shield, or netting across railings where baby might squeeze body parts through (> 3-1/2 inches).
LATCH/LOCK ALL OFF-LIMIT DOORS
- Door knob covers can keep babies from opening doors but can be opened by older siblings (> 4yrs). This is sometimes preferred, so parents don't have to continually open the doors for the older children too. Lever-style door locks are also available for levered door handles.
- Use bi-fold door locks to prevent babies from pinching their fingers and/or opening bi-fold doors.
- Other options for keeping doors secured: Overhead door latches, safety hook & eyes, barrel bolts, flip locks.
ORGANIZE AND SECURE ELECTRICAL CORDS, CABLES
- Hanging or loose cords from phones, lamps, appliances, computer equipment, etc. should be out of baby's reach (can use nylon or velcro ties to keep cords together and plastic tubing to cover, adhesive cord covers or cord holders to hide and secure cords to wall) or blocked from baby with heavy furniture or equipment.
- Do not use tacks or staples to secure electrical cords to walls, as they can fall out or be pulled out and swallowed.
- Tips from doorstops can be pulled off and swallowed. Install one-piece safety door stoppers or glue all tips onto stoppers (re-check security of all glued doorstops after 24 hours of bonding time).
FOR FIREPLACES, HEARTHS
- If you have exposed brick or stone on your fireplace, purchase a custom made hearth cushion or place a piece of soft foam padding on the whole base to prevent your child from banging into the brick. Soft foam edging is also available for just the edges of the hearth.
- Remove gas jet key from fireplace and put it out of reach of baby.
- Use fireplace door guard or other latch to secure fireplace screen doors. If you have a mesh screen, secure screen to brick using screws and anchors. Can use removable nylon ties to secure screen opening.
- Use non-skid foam pad underneath carpeting to prevent falls.
- Do not permit children to run or jump with anything hard, long or sharp, as severe injury may result if child falls with object in hand.
KEEP BALLOONS, SMALL OBJECTS (can fit inside empty cardboard toilet tissue roll), DRY CLEANING BAGS AND ALL OTHER PLASTIC BAGS AWAY FROM SMALL CHILDREN
- These items can cause an airway obstruction injury or death in children.
- Do not permit children to eat food while lying down or while running/playing.
- Post emergency numbers by telephones. Post phone numbers for poison control, pediatrician, police, fire department, emergency medical services and a neighbor or two by every telephone. Also, clearly post the home address so that parents, caregivers, and children can easily tell emergency personnel how to locate the home.
- Keep first aid supplies on hand.