As a parent it is quite natural to worry about everything when it comes to the safety of your baby. You would imagine the worst case scenario like your baby being abducted by a stranger or your baby being subjected to violence. You think your baby is safest when he is tucked away at home. But is he safe, really? Contrary to what you may believe, a child’s own home could be the biggest threat to his well-being and safety.
Did you know that household injuries are the main reason why children under the age of three get rushed to the ER? This is mainly because they spend a large part of their lives in the home. According to experts, children who are 1 to 4 years of age are more at risk of being harmed by burns, fire, choking, poisoning, falls or drowning than being harmed by a stranger. An average of 2.3 million babies and toddlers are said to be accidentally injured each year and more than 2,500 children are killed by accident in the comforts of their own homes.
It’s very hard to supervise toddlers all the time, and they seem to do the wrong things at the most inopportune times. Child proofing is the only way to ensure that they don’t get into a world of trouble. One of the most common mistakes of first-time parents is neglecting to childproof their homes.
Childproofing, also known as baby proofing, refers to a series of things that you do in order to render an object or an environment safe for babies and children. It considerably reduces the risks of injury to acceptable levels for parents. Childproofing may involve putting up restrictive devices to contain children in safe areas or installing gadgets or devices to prevent access to children. This may be done by the parents themselves or by childproofing experts. Childproofing is fast gaining prominence since parents have more sources of information regarding child safety. Childproofing is considered to be of importance that even hotels and resorts are now offering childproof rooms.
Places to Consider When Child Proofing Your Home
- Children crawl and many love water, so you will find them dipping their hands into toilet bowls or moving towards swimming pools and hot tubs.
- Fire is another factor because most children have no concept of fear and are very curious. They see an open fire, and they are likely to stick their fingers right in it.
- Toxic substances are another factor. This includes household cleaners, medicine and even cosmetics. Children stick things in their mouths all the times. Combine this with their curiosity and they are likely to put a bottle of detergent in their mouth just because it smells nice.
- High places are the other danger. They grab onto windows, table tops, stairwells - anything that will help them to reach up. The problem is that the thing they grab on to may topple over and injure them or they may topple off it like falling off a window.
These are just a few of the danger spots. You need to supervise your child at all times. However, you should consider child proofing these areas to ensure that if your child gets away from you, he/she cannot get into trouble.
How does childproofing your home keep your baby safe from harm?
Provide electrical safety. Childproofing your home will keep your child safe from electrical injury. Electrocution can cause serious injury to a child. It is actually horrific how easy this could happen. A simple thing like a paper clip or a key can result to grave harm when inserted into an electrical outlet. Childproofing devices serve to block access to the electrical outlets when not in use. There are some devices that are made of plastic, which plug into electrical sockets. Once removed however, parents tend to forget to reinsert or worse, the plugs become a choking hazard. The best type of childproofing device to prevent electrical accidents includes sliding outlet covers that are quite easy to use for the parents and hard to manipulate by the children.
Restrict physical access. Most childproofing strategies serve to restrict physical access to children by moving potentially hazardous objects to a higher place, where a child will not be able to reach. Things that should be out of reach to children include small objects that may become choking hazards, sharp things that might cut your child, breakable items, and long flexible objects like ropes and cables that can easy strangle your child. Playpens are also a good way to keep your child within a safe area, where minimal supervision is required. Portable playpens are helpful for when you and your child go out for a visit to a home that is not childproofed. Installing safety gates around your house also helps prevent your child from going into areas of the house you would otherwise want. Such areas may include the stairs or the kitchen.
Restrict water access. Childproofing limits your child’s access to water. Kids love the water. It is irresistible to them. They are just naturally drawn to them. Water is fun. It is also dangerous. In the United States, one of the leading cause of accidental deaths in children 1 to 4 years of age is drowning, mostly in their own swimming pools at home. One way to prevent this from happening is by installing a safety barrier such as a pool fence. For scenarios inside the house, never leave water in the bathtub. Make sure to completely drain your tub since only a small amount of water is needed to jumpstart an accident.
Restrict chemical access. Potentially dangerous and harmful chemicals can be found all over the house including the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry room and the garage. Common household items such as drain cleaners and chemical polishes are among the leading cause of accidental child poisoning. Childproofing ensures that these chemicals are not accessible by your child. Place the potentially harmful agents in hard to reach latched storage cabinets. Special latches are now available that require a set of actions in order to be opened, making it hard for a small child to open.
Restrict medicine access. Childproofing has gained much prominence that even the pharmaceutical industry has recognized its importance. Childproof and child-resistant packaging are now enforced in order to prevent children from accidentally swallowing medicines that are not intended for them. Such packaging materials need specific actions to be opened. The opening mechanisms are easy to perform by an adult while being difficult for a child. It is still safest to keep medicines in latched cabinets in case your child is able to overcome such child-resistant packaging.
Provide fire safety. Fire safety is every bit as important to protect your child as well as the whole family. Having a smoke detector at home should be a default. Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of the house, including the hallways and bedrooms. Get smoke alarms that are linked to one another so that when one alarm is triggered, the rest of the alarms will also sound. The best kind of smoke detector is the one that has both ionization and photoelectric sensors since each sensor can differentiate and detect different potential fire accidents. Smoke detectors and smoke alarms should be regularly inspected and tested. Be sure to change the batteries at least once a year.
Tips on Child Proofing Your House
- The first thing you need to do is look at your home from the perspective of your child. So get down on their level and crawl around the home. Scope out the territory. Get a good baby’s eye view of your home. You will then be able to see the danger points and write a list of them so that you can find ways of dealing with them.
- While on you are on all fours, observe what is within reach. What seems tempting to you? If you were a baby and you could crawl or walk, where do you think you would go? What objects would you grasp? Are there spaces you would insert yourself in? Doing this will help you find out which drawers, cabinets or cupboards pose risks to your child.
- Look at dangerous things and spots that are easily within reach. Places that they can fall into, access dangerous substances and harmful things they can put into their mouth and choke on.
- Be on the lookout for tiny items that may become potential choking hazards or may cause poisoning. Keep an eye out for coins, beads, keys and other small objects that may be lying on the floor or on top of low coffee tables.
- Remember, that as the child grows you have to keep re-evaluating your child proofing solutions. As he starts walking and climbing, you might want to look higher and figure out which areas of the house now seem tempting to him.
- Research on which areas of the house you need to focus on. Read up on available gadgets and devices in the market. Survey which products get good reviews from consumers so that you will be assured of the effectivity. Ask an experienced professional to childproof your home for you if you are unsure how to go about the business of childproofing.
- Be cautious when you have visitors over. Your whole house might be childproofed, but your visitor is not. Gently remind them to keep their things away from your child’s reach.
- Remember that the best childproofing device is still supervision. Gadgets can only do so much to assist. They cannot substitute your eyes and ears so be sure to keep an eye out for your child at all times.
Some Helpful Child Proofing Solutions
Get locks for cupboards where you put hazardous material like detergents, medicine and knives. All cabinets should be locked or hard to pull open because children like to explore such areas. Drawer locks are a big help as well to prevent them from pulling them out.
Door knob locks are good for places like bathrooms and the kitchen, so you can lock the door and your child can’t get it open. Closet locks are another life saver; otherwise they will get in the closet and may even lock themselves in.
Kids can start fires especially when it comes to turning gas stoves so get stove locks for the gas stove knobs to be on the safe side.
Loose Objects Lying Around
Always ensure that there are no tiny objects that your child can put into their mouth lying around in the open. Children try to taste everything they find interesting, even insects. So marbles, coins and tiny toys are not supposed to be in their reach. This refers to the floor and low tables; always ensure they are clear of any hazards.
Ensure that you monitor your visitors and speak to them about leaving hazardous things lying around in purses or on their bed in the guest room.
Child Proof Gates and Safety Latches
Put small gates and childproof fences around places like staircases, pools, hot tubs and balconies. This will ensure they don’t fall into pools or off stairwells.
Electrical outlets are another issue, and they need a sliding safety latch to keep the baby from tampering with them. Electrical cords are another issue because children pull on them. Find a way of putting them away from reach. This applies to curtain cords, as well.
Protect electrical outlets
It is always a good idea to cover electrical outlets since a simple act of a coin getting in contact with an outlet can result to a major disaster. Exercise caution when using plastic removable plugs since they may become choking hazards should you forget to insert them back in the electrical outlet. It is better to use sliding outlet covers that come with a safety latch.
These are just a few of the child proofing solutions you should consider for your child, but supervision is the main thing to concentrate on. Remember that childproofing is an ongoing process and should be continuously improved as your child grows.