This is a guest post by Sarah O’Reilly.
What’s that sound? If you haven’t childproofed your home, it could be anything, from a harmless bit of play to a falling piece of furniture or other hazard. While it is tempting to think you only need to childproof some parts of your home, or that you’ll always be around to keep your little one out of trouble, the truth is that kids are very skilled at finding – and getting into –items they shouldn’t.
So what can you do to keep your little one safe? You can protect your child against her own natural curiosity and preserve your sanity by totally childproofing your home. Here’s a few tips for each room in your house; visit a room a day and you’ll be totally childproofed in less than a week.
Your kitchen can create more than great food—it is a veritable hotbed of hazards, from hot appliances and plugs to cleaning products and choking hazards. By the time your child is walking, he is big enough and old enough to get into trouble in the kitchen. Consider installing child safety locks on your cabinets and drawers; locks will keep the most vulnerable kids – toddlers and preschoolers – out of cabinets and away from potential hazards.
Your own actions can be a hazard in the kitchen, so make sure you don’t leave pots or teakettles on an accessible burner, and put away sharp knives as soon as you are done with them. Store medicines, cleaning products and ingredients that could pose a choking hazard in high cabinets that are completely out of reach from curious kids. Don’t overlook teens—just because your kids are big doesn’t mean they can’t get in trouble in the kitchen. Set rules for independent cooking, make sure you’re teen knows how to use the appliances, and store alcohol and prescription medications out of reach, just in case.
The main living space of your home needs a thorough child proofing to make sure all members of the household are safe. Use outlet covers and secure cords to prevent electrical accidents, and cover the edges of tables and the fireplace hearth with soft cushioning in case of falls.
The number one bedroom hazard for kids is falling furniture. An otherwise sturdy bureau can topple over if all of the drawers are opened – and the weight of a climbing child elevates the risk even more. Use childproof anchors or safety straps to secure bureaus, shelves and dressers to the wall and you’ll eliminate the risk. If you have very active kids or climbers, set firm rules about jumping on beds and climbing furniture to reduce the risk of falls in the bedroom.
Use outlet covers in bedrooms as well, and keep an eye on the toys that enter the room. LEGOs may be the preferred toy of your 9 year old son, but they pose a choking hazard for your 2 year old daughter if allowed in her room.
Bathrooms and laundry rooms
In many homes, both of these rooms hold toxic chemicals and poisons. What is obviously a bottle of fabric softener to you may look like a pretty pink beverage to your child, so secure cleaning products of all types on a high shelf. Personal care items like razors and beauty essentials like cosmetics should be kept out of reach as well.
Bathrooms pose another hazard—drowning. Make it a habit to fill bathtubs with only a small amount of water, and stay in the room if your child is under 5.
Don’t overlook the outside of your how when you child proof. If you own a pool, then a fence is a must – you’ll also need a fence if you live on or near a body of water. A fence can do wonders for child proofing; you’ll be able to keep your child in and keep strangers, dogs and other animals out.
Double check outdoor toys for wear and damage at least once a season, plastic items can become very brittle over time and the broken edges can cause cuts if your child handles the toy.
Childproofing your home is an ever evolving process – just when you think you’ve created the perfect play area for your baby, she’ll grow into a curious toddler, and you’ll have to start the process all over again. Keep up with your child’s development, and review your childproofing regularly to make sure you are addressing any and all potential hazards.
Author Bio: This article has been written by Sarah O’Reilly on behalf of Sopris Learning who develop learning resources for children & schools. They offer may tools & resources including a writing curriculum & a reading curriculum.