Kids are curious, bold, and adventurous – it’s one of the best things about childhood. But, it also comes with a harsh reality for parents; unfortunately, household accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries in children. This is especially true for young children, who often don’t know enough to stay away from dangerous objects and hazardous situations. If you have kids of your own – or, if children of friends and relatives are coming to visit – it’s essential to childproof your living area, to prevent seriously harmful accidents. As children get older, security risks and precautions will change; so take into account the ages of your kids, and pay special attention to safety risks for their age group.
Follow this list of tips and best practices, as you take inventory of your home’s condition, and address any safety concerns – so you can feel comfortable as the kids romp around happily in the house.
For all ages
- The best prevention is supervision – certain tech devices can help you stay aware of your children, but they can’t do everything. It’s always best to stay in the same room, and keep a watchful eye on your kids.
- Keep medicines in locked, secure containers; and stored in places your children can’t reach. Placing a medicine bottle in plain sight – even if it’s up high – can be dangerous if a curious child climbs onto a counter to reach for it.
- If you have firearms, keep them unloaded, and in a gun safe. Teach your children to be respectful and careful around guns, and to quickly report to an adult if they ever encounter a firearm.
- Make sure that items such as TVs, dressers, and bookshelves (tempting climbing structures for kids) are secured to the wall.
- Keep electrical cords secured with tape, or holders. Power strips should be hidden, or protected with outlet covers, to prevent children from sticking objects (like toys, or small fingers) inside.
- Continue updating your safety measures to reflect your children’s developmental stages, as they grow and learn. For example, as your toddler starts walking, move dangerous items higher to keep them out of reach.
- Cut cords on blinds, or use another kind of window treatment, to avoid a risk of strangulation.
- Have a plumber install anti-scald devices for showers and faucets. Your plumber can also lower your water heater’s temperature, to keep it from getting too hot.
Birth to 12 months
- Before you set up for a new baby, crawl around your home to get a better idea of what your house looks like to a curious infant. Getting a new perspective will make it easy to spot potential hazards within your baby’s reach.
- Pick up small objects, such as coins, paper clips, and candy.
- Keep cleaning products on a high shelf, or in a locked cabinet.
- Remember that young children love putting small things in their mouths. Some items, such as pens or toys, have small parts that present choking hazards. If you’re not sure, use a toilet paper tube as a test — objects that fit in the tube can also fit in your child’s airway.
- This age is when babies start to learn how to roll over; keep the sides up on a crib, or changing table, so your little one can’t roll off.
- Be careful about leaving stuffed animals in a crib, as they can cause suffocation.
- Use baby gates to prevent children from entering certain rooms, especially areas with dangerous objects. If you have stairs, use gates that screw into the wall at the top of your stairs, to make the barrier more secure.
Toddlers (1 to 3 years)
- Place edge guards on table edges, especially those that are at just the right height for your toddler’s head.
- Use safety latches and hooks to keep cabinets, refrigerators, drawers, and other items shut – and safe from curious hands.
- Door Knob covers and door locks keep toddlers from accidentally locking themselves in a room.
- Door stops keep doors and hinges from pinching little fingers.
- Remember, children of this age can pull out drawers to make “stairs” – so keep all drawers, especially those low to the floor, shut and locked.
Small Children (3 to 6 years)
- Keep the control knobs off stovetop controls; they should pop off and back on when you want to use them. Alternatively, you can install a knob shield to keep children from accidentally starting a fire.
- While you are using the stovetop, use the back burners instead of the front burners, whenever possible. When you have pots on the stove, turn the handles in instead of having them jutting off the side, where a small arm could reach for them.
The best strategy for keeping your home kid-friendly is to think about how your house looks to a child. Don’t be afraid to get down at their level, and take a look around the room, to search for things that look enticing to grab, pull, or climb on. Adjust your safety measures based on your children’s ages and abilities, to keep your home secure for even the most adventurous little tykes.