If you’re either still anticipating the birth of your bundle of joy, or already seeing hints of the havoc that bundle will wreak as soon as it can walk, now is the time to evaluate your home’s safety. Although there are near limitless possibilities for your little one getting into trouble, let’s explore a few key areas that are likely to need the most childproofing, and some quick fixes to keep your child safe.
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These are usually the first thing that comes to a new parent’s mind when it comes time to childproof, and for good reason. Toddling or crawling kids aren’t often paying much attention to where they’re going, and can end up tumbling down unprotected stairs. Even young ones attempting to go up can be dangerous and problematic if they’re unaccompanied. It’s best to prevent either case by installing a baby gate and ensure your railings won’t allow a tot to squirm through.
Sharp Corners and Edges
Nearly every room in your house as a few sharp corners to watch out for, whether it’s a coffee table, fireplace, side table, or even a chair. But, this one has an easy fix: Much like they prevent walkers from scuffing flooring, tennis balls can also be cut and placed on the sharp corners of coffee tables and other furniture to soften bumps. For longer edges (on many of those same furnishings), try slicing a pool noodle and slipping it around the edge.
There are a few ways to block kids’ access to electrical outlets. For example, strategically rearranging heavy furniture to sit in front of outlets, also ensuring they can’t be reached from the sides, can help keep your kids safe while freshening up the living room decor. For outlets that are still exposed, pick up some plastic plug covers or cover outlets with duct tape to effectively keep tiny fingers — and any object they might be holding — at bay.
Cupboards and Drawers
Tiny tots won’t be able to reach the upper cabinets, but ground-level cupboards and drawers should have their handles secured with store-bought devices or simple elastic bands to make it difficult or impossible for kids to open them. Drawers are best secured with purchased locks to ensure kids can’t accidentally pull the drawer out completely. Also note that if drawers and cupboards can open even slightly, kids can inadvertently pinch their fingers, so it’s best to keep these tightly closed.
The potential for injury in the kitchen is high, especially around the stove. To prevent little ones from accidentally turning on a burner, pop off stove knobs and keep them in a drawer until you need to use the stove. Oven doors pose another risk — both in terms of burns and kids climbing on the open door and tearing it off its hinges — so pick up an appliance lock that will keep it firmly closed, even if kids pull on the handle. Those same appliance locks should be used on the refrigerator to prevent prying hands from causing a food avalanche or even potentially pulling the large appliance off balance.
TVs, Dressers, and Bookcases
Anything that can be easily knocked over should be secured. Flat-screen TVs are extremely easy to tip over, but you can add stability by attaching straps to both the back of the TV as well as the TV stand. Dressers and bookcases are also consistent sources of parental scares — open dresser drawers and shelves can look a lot like fun climbing equipment. In addition to securing each drawer, the dresser itself and bookcases should be tethered or bracketed to the wall.
Some low-sitting windows can pose a risk to little ones trying to lean out a window, or even sliding the window open large enough to accidentally fall out. In addition to keeping your windows locked, install a device that limits how far the window can open. For example, charlie bars are often used for sliding windows, while a window stop or wedge can be installed on nearly any window type. For crank windows, simply removing the crank — like those stove knobs — is enough of a deterrent to kids. If you’d like to be able to open your windows, you can opt to install a plastic “mesh” that lets in light and fresh air without letting the little ones near the opening.
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