Childproofing Your Home
About 2 1/2 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented -- by using simple child safe devices on the market today. Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy enough for you to use. It’s important to follow installation instructions carefully. In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is complete childproof; determined youngsters have been known to disable them.
Here are some child safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children.
These devices are used on cabinets and drawers to help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as to knives and other sharp objects.
Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances. Even products with child-resistant packaging should be locked away, out of reach; this packaging is not childproof.
These devices are used to help prevent falls from balconies and decks. Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained. There should be no more than four inches between the bars of the window guard. If you have window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.
These devices can help keep children away from stairs or rooms that have hazards in them. Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw to the wall are more secure than pressure gates. New safety gates that meet safety standards display a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn’t have "V" shapes that are large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.
These devices can help keep children away from places with hazards, including swimming pools. Be sure the door knob cover is sturdy enough not to break, but allows a door to be opened quickly by an adult in case of emergency. By restricting access to potentially hazardous rooms in the home, door knob covers could help prevent many kinds of injuries. To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks should be placed high out of reach of young children. Locks should be used in addition to fences and door alarms. Sliding glass doors, with locks that must be re-secured after each use, are often not an effective barrier to pools.
These devices are used to regulate water temperature to help prevent burns. Consider using anti-scald devices for faucets and showerheads. A plumber may need to install these. In addition, if you live in your own home, set water heater temperature to 120 degrees F to help prevent burns from hot water.
These devices can be used with furniture and fireplace hearths to help prevent injuries from falls or to soften falls against sharp or rough edges. Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture or hearth edges.
These devices can help protect children from electrical shock and possible electrocution. Be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.
These devices are used to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Consumers should install CO detectors near sleeping areas in their homes. Households that should use CO detectors include those with gas or oil heat or with attached garages.
These devices are essential safety devices for protection against fire deaths and injuries. Check smoke detectors once a month to make sure they’re working. If detectors are battery operated, change batteries at least once a year or consider using 10-year batteries.
These devices on miniblinds and tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords can help prevent deaths and injuries from strangulation in the loops of cords. For older miniblinds, cut the card loop, remove the buckle, and put safety tassels on each cord. Be sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hole the cords tight. When buying new miniblinds, verticals, and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation.
These devices are used on doors and door hinges to help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges. Be sure any safety device for doors is easy to use and is not likely to break into small parts, which could be a choking hazard for young children.
These phones help you watch your child continuously, without leaving the vicinity to answer a phone call. Cordless phones are especially helpful when children are in or near water, whether it’s the bathtub, the swimming pool, or the beach.