You may worry how to protect your child from abduction or violence – but don’t overlook the biggest threat to your child’s safety – your home! According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 2.5 million children are injured or killed each year in their own home. That’s why it is so important to meticulously childproof your home.
There are many gadgets and gizmos available to help you babyproof your home. If you’d like, there are also professional childproofers that will come to your house, determine what needs to be addressed, and, if you choose, will install safety devices for you. Following are some of the items available to help you in your childproofing efforts:
- Child Safety Gates: There are multiple types of gates that can be purchased – including pressure mounted, retractable, those for irregular or wide openings, top of stairs, as well as extensions. Many of the gates install in minutes (some require no tools or hardware), can swing in either direction and are ideal for doorways and openings that separate rooms. Also, ease of use is important for adults – most gates you find will be able to operate with the use of only one hand.
- Furniture Safety: Little climbers can end up in big trouble around heavy furniture. Every year thousands of children end up in the hospital from dressers, televisions, and bookshelves falling on top of them. Use safety straps or brackets to secure your furniture to walls and help prevent tipovers. Also, sharp corners and rough edges found on tables, countertops, and cabinets can cause bumps and bruises for your toddler. Purchase foam cushioning, cut to size, and attach to your furniture to safeguard your little one from injuries.
- Safety Locks and Latches: Oven locks and stove knob covers are available for your kitchen to prevent your child from reaching hot burners, pots, pans and utensils that may be on top or inside. Latches and locks come in multiple varieties for all cabinets – some require hardware and installation on the inside of the cabinet, while others can be used on the exterior with no installation required. Magnetic locks are also an option, especially for those who have a hard time opening the standard childproof locks. These automatically lock when a drawer or door is closed, and re-open with a magnetic key that is left outside the door or drawer. You may choose multiple types of locks and latches for different cabinets around your home.
- Door Safety: Door locks are available for all types of doors – some for the top of the door where children can’t reach. For bi-fold doors, you can purchase a lock that covers the hinged area of the doors to prevent them from opening – there is generally a plastic wand for shorter adults to be able to open the door. Multiple locks are also available to secure doors with door knobs or lever type door handles. Children are not able to open these doors by rotating the knob or handle, and an adult opens the door by activating a safety release and rotating. You can also guard your child from pinched fingers in the door by buying a product to cover the gap between the door and doorjamb to protect your child’s fingers from the door’s hinges.
- Window Safety: Protect your curious child from open windows with a window barrier. These barriers can mount in front of the window frame or within it and quick release hardware allows adults to open easily in case of an emergency. You can keep sliding windows from being opened with window locks – many of which attach easily without tools. Lastly, be sure to keep blind cords out of your child’s reach by using a cord wraps on each window.
- Bathroom Safety: Stop the remote control (or any other item!) from ending up in the toilet with a toilet lock. For bathtime, use an inflatable bathtub liner inside the walls of the tub, or an inflatable tub to cushion and protect your baby from bathtub bumps and bruises. To help your toddler enter and leave the tub safely, apply a sturdy grip handle to the side of the tub or wall. Keep a bathtub thermometer nearby to protect your child from bathtime burns. Always place bathroom medicines and small items in a medicine safe for your storage needs.
- Electrical Safety: Protect fingers, decrease the risk of electrical shock, and prevent your child from inserting anything into outlets by covering them with outlet caps or protectors. Also, keep your child from playing with plugs and outlets by installing safety covers over and around any power strip – all you have to do is drop in the power strip, plug in your cords, and snap it shut. Conceal cords and wires from your child while organizing your clutter by using cord covers or tubing.
- Fireplace Safety: Guard against fireplace bumps and bruises by using hearth pads made of impact absorbing foam cushion. These pads are flame retardant so that you can use your fireplace without having to remove the pad. Door guards can mount over the handles of swinging or folding fireplace doors to prevent hands and fingers from getting pinches. Also, use a safety gate around the fireplace to keep your child out when it’s not in use.
- Driveway Safety: You can turn your driveway into a safer play area with a retractable safety net. Additionally, warn motorists that the kids are out playing by placing a bright yellow “Kids at Play” sign at the end of the driveway.
- Balcony/Deck Safety: Protect your child from unsafe openings in outdoor decks and railings. Netting or plastic mesh can be used that is designed for outdoor use – and you can easily trim to size with scissors. Also, you can use a durable plastic shield on balconies to keep your child from putting any part of their body through.
Even with all the contraptions, your child will still find a way to get bumps and bruises, as well as unpredictable illnesses. Keep the following items on hand to care for your child or help nurse your child back to health:
- Thermometer: A variety of thermometers are available to take your child’s temperature quickly (as quick as one second!). You can find a digital thermometer for use on the forehead, underarm, ear or rectum – and many can be used in multiple ways.
- Humidifier: Convenient to have on hand when your child is a bit stuffy. Set the humidity level to help your child breathe easier while they sleep. Many are designed with convenient features for moms and dads such as dishwasher-safe tanks and easy filling.
- Nasal Aspirator: A quick and easy way to clear your baby’s stuffy nose and help him or her to breathe more easily.
- Grooming and Manicure Sets: Great for at home or travel, grooming kits can be kept near the changing table or in your diaper bag. They usually contain an assortment of health and beauty essentials including nail clippers, brush, comb, and emery boards all in a zippered case. A single pair of baby nail clippers could be helpful to have as well – since trimming a baby’s nails can be difficult, some clippers even illuminate so that you can accurately clip tiny nails while they sleep.
- First Aid Kit: These kits should take the scare out of everyday bumps and bruises. It should contain all the medical supplies needed to treat common mishaps including but not limited to bandages, gauze pads, tweezers, cold packs, ointments, and cleansing wipes.
Caring for your child will be a balancing act – you must allow them to become independent, while guarding them from harm. Always keep in mind, while there are many gadgets available – they are not substitutes for you watching, listening, and learning your child’s body signs. In the event of an emergency or illness, be sure to consult your pediatrician for the best advice.