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Childproof your home Now

Updated on October 16, 2013

Childproofing your home is one of the most important things you can do when you have an infant, toddler, or small child. Unintentional injuries are the top killer of children in the United States. Possible hazards include falls, burns, poisoning, choking, strangulation, and electrocution. 72,000 children under the age of 5 are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every year. A loss of life because someone did not think an unfortunate accident would happen to them, should not happen. Most devices that help prevent accidents are inexpensive and readily available in local stores and online. You can install them prior to the birth of your child to give yourself time to adjust to them. To be effective, the devices must be used correctly and installed properly. Make sure you READ and FOLLOW the directions. Simple actions by you can go a long way to prevent accidents. REMINDER: Childproof devices are NOT childproof and will NOT work 100% of the time. I can remember installing a safety latch on an outside gate, only to watch my toddler son walk up and open the gate in a matter of seconds. Your baby will go from lying to crawling, to grabbing, to standing, to climbing before you know it. Proper supervision of children at all times is the most effective method to prevent becoming a tragic story on the news.

Safety Latches and Locks

Use on drawers and cabinets in the kitchen, bathrooms, and other areas of the house. Use to prevent access to cleaners, medicines, sharp objects, and prevent drawers from being pulled out onto children. These latches must be sturdy to withstand tugs from small children. These are easy to install and inexpensive so make sure you get enough to limit access everywhere it is needed.

Safety Gates

Use at the top and bottom of stairs and to limit access to other areas with possible dangers. Make sure the gate is properly installed and not just “wedged in”, especially at the top of any stairs. Make sure the gate can be easily opened by adults. A difficult gate will not be used all of the time as it should. You will be opening these gates while carrying your child so think of that when purchasing. Do not use older safety gates that allow a child’s head to become entrapped.

Door knobs guards and door locks

The guards slip over door knobs and limit small hands from opening doors to areas where dangers await (including outside). Make sure that adults can easily open the doors in case of emergencies. We used door chains to further limit access to outside and basement doors. These maintain their usefulness once the child gets older and more responsible

Anti-scalding Devices

These can be installed on faucets and shower heads. It takes just 3 seconds for a child to sustain a 3rd degree burn from water at 140 degrees. A simple and effective method is to turn your hot water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. Remember that bath water that feels good to you will probably be too hot for small children. Use your elbow to test water instead of your hand.

Outlet covers

Install these everywhere to prevent electrical shock or electrocution! What your child can not reach today, will become accessible tomorrow. Make sure the protectors cannot be easily removed by small fingers. Ensure any outlet around water sources are GFCI. Also ensure the protectors are large enough not to become a choking hazard if they are removed. Consider replacing outlets to a tamper resistant style.

Window Guards and Safety Netting

Install to prevent falling from windows, porches, decks, and balconies. Devices limit window openings to 4 inches or less. Ensure one window can be opened as an emergency exit. Remember that screens will not support the weight of even a small child. A child does not realize that they can easily dislodge a screen when they push against it.

Edge and Corner Bumpers

Sharp edges on furniture and fireplaces hearths can cause injuries to little ones learning to move around. Consider removing certain pieces of furniture until later, or place bumpers on edges. Make sure bumpers are secure and will stay in place.

Carbon Monoxide Detector and Smoke Detector

Carbon monoxide detectors warn against CO poisoning. They should be installed near sleeping areas. Remember to replace the batteries as required.

Smoke alarms: These should already be in place, but now is a good time to ensure they work. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends replacing detectors every 10 years, even if they seem to be working. Smoke detectors should be placed on each level of the house and around sleeping areas. They should not be placed in kitchens or garages since car exhaust or smoke from cooking can set them off. Remember that they are inexpensive considering the important job they do. Remember to replace the batteries when required and to test each unit monthly.

Toilet Locks

Install toilet locks to keep the toilet lid closed. Curious children are more top heavy than adults and lack the upper body strength to pull themselves out if they fall in. Small children can drown in one inch of water.

Actions that will help prevent accidents

  • Properly monitor your children at all times. Remember that nothing is 100% effective.
  • Cut the cord loops on blinds. These can cause strangulation. Affix the cords up high to prevent pulling on, which can cause the blinds to fall entrapping the child.
  • Anchor furniture and appliances to prevent tip-over accidents. Furniture can include dressers, bookcases, televisions, desks, and chests.
  • Ensure pools are surrounded by fencing. If the house is one of the boundaries, ensure doors, including sliding doors, are properly secured.
  • Use the back burners on stoves and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. Guards can be installed on stoves. I have not used these so I am not sure how effective they are.
  • Keep kitchenware and appliances away from the edge of counters. Be conscious of electrical cords which can be pulled, causing the appliance to fall on children.
  • Unplug hair dryers and curling irons when not in use. These items can cause burns and are probably located close to a source of water.
  • Keep furniture away from higher windows. Children can climb on the furniture to reach non-secured widows.
  • Remove free-falling lids from toy chests. Lids should stay open or be light and removable.
  • Post the phone number for the National Poison Control Hotline 1-800-222-1222 close to each phone and load on cell phones.
  • Store cleaners, poisons, detergents, and medications in locked areas and out of sight. Keep solutions in their original containers to avoid confusion. Keep food and chemicals in separate areas to avoid confusion. Discard of items properly.
  • Be alert of medications in other people’s homes. People with hand arthritis might not have childproof tops.
  • Be careful of plants. Some are poisonous if ingested.
  • Select toys that are age appropriate. Avoid toys with small parts that could become a choking hazard. Avoid toys with string, straps, or cords longer than 7 inches. These could wrap around a neck. Avoid toys with sharp edges and points.
  • Throw away any plastic wrapping from packages. These can become a choking hazard.
  • Always follow instructions carefully when assembling toys, etc. Do not assume you can just figure it out. Heed any warning.
  • Properly monitor your children at all times. Remember that nothing is 100% effective. Yes, I have it listed more than once because it's that important!


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