How To Childproof Your Home
So you’re bringing a newborn baby home, or you’re moving house with your children, you’re naturally worried. The home can surprisingly be filled with potential danger for your kids, but no need to worry, it isn’t too expensive or time consuming to make some common sense changes.
The most important accident preventer is the person caring for the little one knowing where they are and what they are up to. By ensuring you have thought about the hazards in the home as below and knowing they only have access to safe areas makes that job of caring so much easier and means their ability to have a serious accident is hugely reduced.
In this guide, we’ve outlined some of the essential safety precautions to keep your children as safe as you can.
Around The House
The first safety item that probably springs to mind is safety covers for all you electrical sockets. You need to do research before inserting covers into your plug sockets as despite what you may have heard, it is actually very difficult for a child to electrocute themselves with a socket due to the safety features added when they are designed. A poor socket cover can even do damage to a previously safe socket!
Obviously this may be a different situation if your home electrics are very dated; however there have been some safety requirements in place for decades, so please do your research. Make your own decision based on all the evidence available before deciding whether to use them or not.
A very important feature to add is safety gates. These will prevent your child from wandering off and keeps them from climbing stairs from the bottom or falling down from the top where they may end up hurting themselves. You can also use gates on room openings to prevent access from one safe or supervised area to another more hazardous one, or to prevent access to a pet.
You can also use door handle covers to prevent your child walking or running into them and locks to stop them from going into other rooms. A simple high hook and eye lock that the child can’t reach will prevent them accessing rooms they shouldn’t or opening doors to the outside when they shouldn’t.
But more about that later…
Keeping appliances like kettles, coffee machines, irons and hair straighteners or tongs out of reach is essential. It only takes a second for a child to tug on a wire and it will come crashing down on them. Also, items like these tend to get very hot so it advisable to keep them unplugged when you are not using them.
Let’s dig a little deeper…
Make sure your windows have child locks on them for obvious reasons too and place any furniture away from windows to prevent your child from climbing onto window cills.
Another important thing to consider are the toys your child is playing with. This may sound silly, but there is an age on the box for a reason. It’s ultimately down to you, the parent; as to what toy you let your child have, but take into consideration if it is age appropriate.
Don’t buy toys from unreliable sources, as you need to know it has been rigorously and appropriately tested.
Sound silly? It’s not.
If they are under 3, you should get toys that aren’t easily breakable, and definitely stay away from small pieces. If the toy has small pieces, maybe take them away until your child is slightly older as they are a huge choking hazard waiting to happen. For example, a LEGO set is not ideal for a very young child, but mega blocks are, so choose toys carefully. Try your best to keep the floor free of toys when not in use to prevent anyone standing or tripping over them.
Make sure you are keeping cords from blinds and curtains are tied firmly and out of reach. There have been cases of children being strangled or have been hurt by pulling the blind/curtain and attachments down on top of them. All new blinds should come with an attachment to place on the wall and tie the cords too.
Do you see where we’re going with this?
It is crucial that you anchor down any large furniture i.e. book shelves, cabinets, TV units as they could potentially fall and seriously hurt someone, especially a small child if climbed on or if the contents are not balanced causing it to topple. You should use screws or brackets to secure your furniture to the wall where possible.
Following on from door handle covers, it is wise to use furniture corner covers and add foam or another kind of blocker to any sharp child height edges, i.e. coffee tables, TV units, dinner tables, etc. By doing this you are preventing the risk of your child running into it. Remove glass table tops or make sure they are made of safety glass and are secure onto the piece of furniture they are part off.
You’ve heard this advice a million times, but it needs to be said…
You shouldn’t leave any small, fiddly items around such as marbles, pins, crayons, rubber bands and paper clips. They are choking hazards and could be deadly if swallowed by a child. It is important to store them in drawers high up or with child safety locks on so a child could not access it.
Speaking of drawers, you should add safety latches to all drawers, cabinets and cupboards so a child couldn’t access the contents, especially if it holds expensive/precious or hazardous items, allow the child access to a cupboard at their level that is just full of their toys etc, so they don’t feel prevented accessing every area of the house.
It should be noted that you need to tie down cables and wires throughout the home and keep them out of the way because they are a tripping hazard for the toddler or the adult carrying them and could damage equipment if pulled on. Any picture frames or art and mirrors should be hung high up the way and out of reach.
Now we move on to the living room.
Move any precious ornaments or photo frames out of the way. Replace with robust or items that won’t hurt the child or that you won’t mind if they get damaged. You still want your home to look like a home and you don’t want to spend your whole life saying, “No don’t touch”.
The kitchen is a particularly dangerous place for a small child, especially if the right safety precautions aren’t in place.
You should have childproof locks on all drawers, cupboards and fridge. You can guess the ways it could go wrong if they got hold of a sharp knife or glassware, so let’s prevent that straight away.
It is advised to store plastic bags out of reach. If a child gets hold of a plastic bag without supervision, the possibilities could be very serious so it’s always best to be prepared.
When it comes to childproofing your home, it’s okay to go over the top. The more you do to protect your child, the better.
All cabinets or cupboard that hold medicines and cleaning products either need to be kept locked or the products need to be kept high up and out of the reach of children for obvious reasons.
The bathroom is a place you shouldn’t ever leave your child unattended, especially a young child.
Firstly, it is crucial to keep all chemicals and cleaning products on high shelves or ideally locked away. This may seem obvious but it’s important. Most cleaning products are brightly coloured and more than likely have a spray, so you can imagine what could go wrong.
Another trick is to use toilet-lid locks on your toilet. These will help keep the toilet seat held down and inaccessible to your child. It may sound stupid but there have been cases of kids falling into the toilet, an experience you can prevent, plus young children love putting items into the toilet.
Remember never to leave a young child in the bath even for a moment, even in a couple of inches of water, otherwise there could be serious and unthinkable consequences.
When it comes to the bedroom, there is less potential for kids to hurt themselves but there are definitely a few things to consider.
For example, appliances like hair dryers, straighteners and curler need to be kept out of reach and unplugged when not in use. It only takes a second for a child to start messing around or trying to imitate their parents.
Like other parts of the house fasten all furniture to the walls to prevent tipping. If you have a gap under your bed check that a little one cant get stuck or that there isn’t anything potentially dangerous stored there they could find.
Remember how attractive and potentially dangerous and messy cosmetics and toiletries are, so keep them safely out of reach.
With the outside of your house, it is extremely unlikely you would ever leave your child unsupervised, but it never hurt anyone to be too safe.
Make sure your front and back garden have got either prominent fencing or a gate to prevent your child from walking off, add a high out of reach bolt that the growing child cant reach. Also make sure it can’t be opened from the other side by a visitor who comes in and leaves it open. I don’t have to explain what could happen if these measures aren’t in place, so it’s worth the small investment.
Lastly, we’ll go through some safety devices to not only protect your child, but you as well.
First one is an obvious one. All houses should be fitted with smoke detectors, they are no good if they don’t work so check them regularly. They are essential in detecting fire or smoke and play a big role in getting you out of the house quickly.
Other devices to consider are carbon monoxide detectors. They will detect if any carbon monoxide gas is in the air before you can smell it or even notice any. They are key to keeping your home safe. Neither of these are expensive with smoke alarms sometimes provided and fitted free of charge by your local fire service.
By now, most home phones are wireless, it’s just how the world is these days. But there are still some homes with wired phones. If you have a phone with a cord, it is wise to upgrade to a cordless phone to prevent your child from either chewing on it, tripping or choking. If not as with any cable keep it fastened down or out of reach.
So that is our essential guide to making your home safe for children. These are just a few of the ways to childproof and is certainly not an exhaustive list. Every home and the life style of the family are different, maybe have a look around with fresh eyes and see what you can spot.
You don’t have to sacrifice the look of your home to prevent an accident.