Childproofing Your Home without Spending a Fortune
If you have a baby in the house or have one on the way, you'll want to childproof your home before your child becomes mobile. You'll need to go from room to room and make a note of anything that may be precarious. Then make a list of the items you'll need to make the house more child friendly. If you're a busy mom with one or more kids and not a lot of time, though, you can also get a handyman to help you with part or all of the work.
Here's a childproofing checklist to get you started.
Latches and Locks
Install safety latches on drawers and cabinets to block your child's access to medicines, household cleaners, and sharp objects. While these safety latches should be easy to install, they should also be strong enough to survive any tugs and pulls they may endure. Some safety latches are priced as low as $5.
Toilet locks should also be installed. Children are prone to overbalancing and falling into the bowl. While there may be a danger for kids to drown, the main concern is toddlers learning they can put toys and other things in the toilet and flush them down. There are also cleanliness issues, as you don't want your child playing in toilet water.
Safety gates are another essential item. These come in handy because they let you open outer doors without fear that your baby may run out and get hurt. Safety gates keep your child in a designated area while blocking potential tumbles down the stairs and access to rooms like the bathroom or the kitchen.
New safety gates with a straight-slat design are better than older accordion-style gates with V-shaped openings because there's no risk of your child getting caught between the bars. Gates that screw into the wall are far more secure than pressure gates, so these should always be used at the top of the stairs. Any gate you choose should display a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) seal.
Photo courtesy of DesignMine
Corner and Edge Guards
Sharp corners are dangerous and can cause significant injury in the case of a mishap. These corners can be addressed with corner and edge bumper covers. The protection area on these guards may face either up or down, so you may use them both before and after your baby learns to stand.
On average, table-edge bumper covers cost about $22; a pack of four corner bumpers costs around $11. The affordable price makes it possible to purchase a higher-quality variety, which will better stick to counters and furniture.
Have the handyman secure all furniture to the floor or wall using anchors to prevent tipping. Additionally, avoid placing furniture near shelves or windows. That sort of placement may tempt your child to climb. Store toys in open baskets so that lids are not an issue, and securely mount your TV to the wall or its furniture stand to prevent it from falling over. You can also latch appliances, like refrigerator and oven doors, to prevent children from bumping their heads when trying to open them.
Electrical Outlets and Cords
You need to tamper-proof electrical covers. Replace any plastic outlet covers with removable caps, which prevent swallowing hazards. Covers with sliding safety latches are acceptable as well. Cover any exposed extension-cord outlets with electrical tape. Secure electrical-appliance cords or cords attached to window coverings out of reach to prevent strangulation. It is best to use cordless window coverings whenever possible.
Children under 5 are at high risk for burns, as they have thinner skin than adults. Install anti-scald devices on faucets and shower heads and set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent hot-water burns. On average, these devices cost about $40 for a basic model and up to $300 or more for built-in safety systems. They also make thermometers you can place in the water that beep when the temperature is too hot or cold.
Studies by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show that about eight children under the age of 5 die falling out of a window each year in the United States. The list of injured is far more — around 3,000. Fit your windows with locks to avoid such accidents. Also, use window stops to keep windows from opening more than four inches. Some newer window models include this feature, if you want to make the investment.
Window guards may also be screwed into the window frame to prevent children from falling. These guards are may be adjusted to fit windows of differing sizes, and they include bars that are no more than four inches apart. Industry standards announced by the CPSC in June 2000 state that guards should fit snugly but should not be so tight as to prevent an adult from removing them in case of an emergency. Non-removable window guards are considered safe only for windows on the seventh floor and above. Window screens do not provide any safety benefit.
These tips are intended to get you started, and these measures should go a long way in keeping your child safe when the time comes to crawl. It's important to remember, though, that your childproofing requirements will evolve as your child grows, and no childproofing measure can take the place of adult or parental supervision.