Childproofing Your Home
Childproofing your home can be a complex and detail-oriented task. There are so many things that children can get into! Where do you begin?
1. Sharp edges, pointed corners, etc. that are within your child’s reach should be removed or buffered. These edges and corners can be found on coffee tables, oscillating fans, dining room chairs, bathtub water spouts, television sets, and virtually everywhere else in your home.
2. Breakables that are within your child’s reach should be removed until your child is old enough to understand what he/she should and should not touch.
3. Door knobs, latches, and handles should be secured. These include the knobs or handles on your cabinet doors and drawers in your kitchen and bathrooms. Be particularly careful to ensure that your door to your medicine cabinet or vanity is childproofed: children love to peek in your vanity and see what all those pretty bottles contain. Ensure that exterior doors are always locked. Interior door locks should be able to be unlocked from both sides of the door.
4. Chemicals should be kept behind closed, childproofed doors at all times.
5. Chests of drawers, dressers, and bookshelves should be no more than three drawers or shelves high, as they tip over easily. Affix the furniture to the floor or wall, and childproof the drawer handles or knobs as noted in #3 above. Heavy books should be placed only on the lowest possible shelf.
6. Stoves/ovens, space heaters, dishwashers, water heaters, clothes dryers, and other appliances that could burn your child should be childproofed. Some stoves have controls on the front of the oven, whereas some have the controls on the back of the stove . . . clearly, it is best to have a unit with the controls on the back of the stove and out of reach of your child. Additionally, the door to an oven, dishwasher, or clothes dryer can be opened, and your child can then stand on the opened door, thus causing the appliance to tip over . . . unless the appliance is secured to the floor or wall and the doors are securely closed and locked. Further, if a child crawls into an appliance and closes the door, the risk of suffocation is great.
7. Your water heater should be set at or below 115 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding from the water heater itself or from tap water that can get too hot for your little one’s hands.
8. Your refrigerator door should be securely closed and locked. Many items within your fridge are heavy and have defined edges: children often want to peer in the fridge and remove pretty things that may get dropped on fragile feet and toes. Further, by securing the fridge door, you reduce the risk of suffocation, as noted in #6 above.
9. Freezers (chest or upright) pose a freeze and suffocation hazard to your child. Securely lock all freezer doors.
10. Any chest freezer, cedar chest, toy chest, or other such item with a lid that lifts should have lid locks (or should have no lid at all, when possible). Children often want to peer into these items . . . and lids can come crashing down on their little heads or necks.
11. Anything that contains standing water (i.e., a toilet, a swimming pool, etc.) can pose a risk of drowning. Cover toilets, pools, etc. in such a manner that your child cannot open the covering until your child is old enough to handle the risk responsibly.
12. All electric outlets should be covered when not in use. Outlets near water sources (i.e., your kitchen and bathrooms) should be ground fault circuit interrupters.
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