Childproofing your home may seem like a chore, but it sure beats sitting in the emergency room with an injured child, both in monetary terms and emotional hassle. It will cost about a few hundred dollars and maybe a weekend’s work to childproof your home, or anywhere from $700 to $1500 to have a professional childproofer do it for you. The childproofing checklist below will help you eliminate the common hazards in the home.
General Childproofing Tips
- Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around your house, noticing things from your child’s vantage point. It may help tip you off to potential hazards that you might not have otherwise noted.
- Remember that when it comes to childproofing a home, more is better. Keeping dangerous things up high is good, but keeping dangerous things up high inside a closet with a childproof knob is better.
Childproofing Check List
- Install childproof doorknob covers for any room of the house that you would like restricted from your kids, particularly closets with liquor or cleaning supplies, as well as the bathroom, which is a drowning hazard for toddlers.
- When people visit, or when you visit other people, keep purses and handbags, which often have potentially deadly items inside, safely out of the reach of a curious child.
- Install emergency phone numbers, such as police, fire, poison control, etc., at every phone around the house.
- Keep all cords to lamps or other appliances tied or effectively clamped down to avoid children from pulling them over onto themselves.
- Install finger guard pinches on doors around the house.
- Install one piece door stops or remove the rubber tips from door stops, as the tip makes a perfect accessible choking hazard to young children.
- Keep your child away from a baby walker in any area of the house that has steps up or down, as it could cause a fall directly onto the child’s head.
- Check over all toys a baby could choke on, and try ridding your house of these items. If you have older children, emphasize the need for them to never let the baby play with any of their toys, and the importance of keeping them out of the reach of their younger sibling.
- Get at least one reliable, cordless phone to use around your house. Bring it with you wherever you go so that you can answer the phone without leaving your little one’s side.
- Try to keep household plants out of baby’s reach, as many are poisonous, as is the fertilizer put into them, both of which will make its way to a baby’s mouth, as everything else around them does.
- Make sure that your home’s water heater is strapped to studs in the wall.
- Install outlet plugs or special childproof outlet covers throughout your house. They have specially designed outlet covers that swivel to cover the plugs. We recommend these because you won’t have to mess with plug covers when you need to use the outlet.
- It is a good idea to set your water thermostat at temperatures below 120 degrees, to avoid accidental scalding.
- Use cord holders to fasten all longer cords safely against the wall.
- Keep a VCR or other similar devices either high or locked away to ensure your child can’t stick their hand inside them.
- Bolt large shelves to the wall using wall brackets to prevent them from tipping over on the child should they climb or pull on them.
- Use protective corners around all tables, fireplace hearths, and other sharp furniture, which is a leading cause of stitches in young children. A fall into one of these corners will be brutal. You can use foam weather stripping to cushion these hard edges.
- Position all stereo equipment and television sets safely against the wall. Check their stability to ensure they can’t be pulled over.
- Place non-skid backing on all carpets or area rugs, as this is a common form of tripping or slipping for both adults and children.
- Keep furniture and other things children may potentially try to climb away from windows. A fall through the glass can be fatal.
- Place stickers down low on large areas of glass, such as sliding glass doors. Young children often forget and will try to run through it.
- Tie all drapes and blinds with cords up high, as these can present a strangulation hazard.
- Install window guards that can be opened in the event of a fire. Screens won’t prevent a child from falling through.
- Install safety gates both at the top and the bottom of any stairs in your home. Use ones which are hardware mounted and safety tested to resist force, as children frequently will climb or push on these.
- Make sure your child cannot fit through the railings of the stairs. If they can, place a guard on the railings.
- Ensure the fireplace has a screen, and keep all furniture, curtains, and other combustible materials well away from it.
- If you have a fireplace, put a gate on it and pad the hearth.
Other Childproofing Tips
- If you live in a home built before 1978, check for paint that contains mercury or lead.
- Install smoke detectors in the kitchen, outside each bedroom, on every level of the house, and in the furnace room.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in the home near the furnace area, and if possible, on each level of the house.
- Make a non-smoking policy for your house. If you insist on smoking inside, remove and empty all ash trays after use. Do not leave them out where a child can get into them.
- Call the poison control center (1-800-222-1222, or poison.org) to check to see if you have plants in the home that are poisonous to kids or pets. Remove any that are.
- Light your home well to avoid falls, including night-lights.
While many of these precautions may seem a little like overkill, they were only added after several problems with the issue in question. When it comes to child safety, remember that anything is possible. Those cords on the drapes may not seem like a big hazard, but they have found their way to many children’s death certificates. That toilet bowl water may seem hard to drown in, but hundreds of children have done just that. As you get down on your hands and knees and look around the house, take every possible threat seriously. Children have a way of finding their mischief in seemingly impossible situations.
Never underestimate the power of supervision. Most childhood accidents and injuries happen when the parent is distracted or not paying attention. Childproof your home, but also keep in mind that a good parent’s watchful eye is the best weapon against all these things.