Safety First: How to Childproof Your Home
As a parent, nothing is more important than your child’s safety and health. The ongoing effort to keep kids safe starts in your own home.
Studies indicate that most childhood injuries and more than a third of child deaths occur at home. Household injuries are among the biggest reasons kids under 3 must visit the emergency room.
However, many of these injuries can be prevented by doing a few simple and inexpensive things.
Start With a Child’s View
The first thing to do is get down on your hands and knees to see your home from a child’s level. Move from room to room and keep an eye out for potential problems. Always keep in mind that kids are naturally curious.
If you see a potential hazard, take time to fix it right away. That includes open electrical outlets, dangling power cords or sharp objects.
Fortunately, childproofing your home has never been easier. Protect your child by following these simple guidelines in every area of your home:
Around the Home
- Install outlet covers or plates on every exposed outlet to help prevent electrocution. Avoid the small plastic covers, which can pose a choking hazard if pried loose.
- Use safety gates to protect your child from falling down steps. Gates can also keep kids out of dangerous or high-traffic areas, such as the kitchen.
- Look for safety gates that can be secured to the wall, as opposed to “pressure gates.”
- Store all medications out of sight and out of reach of children.
- Install smoke detectors outside every bedroom and on each floor of your home. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed on each floor. Be sure to change batteries on a regular basis.
- Use safety latches and locks on all cabinets and drawers.
- Never store household cleaners and chemicals in lower-level cabinets—even if they’re locked.
- Unplug appliances—such as coffee makers and toaster ovens—when not being used. Store them out of children’s reach.
- Always keep knives and other sharp kitchen tools completely out of reach.
- Never leave your child alone in the bathtub—even for a second.
- Set your water heater to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding.
- Use a soft faucet cover to avoid bumps and bruises during bath time.
- Line the tub with a nonslip mat or strips to prevent falls.
- Secure all toilets with a lid lock.
- Be sure your baby’s crib meets all current standards.
- Make sure the mattress fits tight enough to prevent your child from slipping in between the mattress and side rails.
- Avoid placing loose items in your child’s crib, including bumpers, pillows and stuffed animals.
- Always use your changing table’s safety straps when putting a diaper on your baby. Never leave your child unattended on the table.
- Mount televisions to the wall and keep furniture secure. This will keep small children from pulling these objects down on themselves.
- Avoid glass-topped tables.
- Use bumpers to cover any piece of furniture or fireplace hearth with sharp corners or edges.
- Keep all plants out of children’s reach.
Grandparents Should Childproof Their Homes
Grandparents and other caregivers need to make sure their homes are childproofed as well. Because safety standards have changed, grandparents should not use an old crib or playpen that they might have used for their kids. Learn about safety resources for grandparents.