How to best protect your home from children

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Whether you are planning to welcome a new baby into your home or already have one crawling and doing …

Whether you’re planning to welcome a new baby into your home or already have one crawling around and messing around, you’ve got a kid-proof brain. But how much does it take to keep your child safe and healthy, and when does it become essential?

Children are unlikely to be exposed to the dangers of electrical outlets and basement steps until they start crawling on their own, but you should be proactive about protecting children well before then. “The key is to put on (child restraints) before they really need them,†says Hal Norman, president of Home Safe Home Childproofing Inc. in the Chicago area.

To help you prepare your home for active kids, we’re breaking down where in the house you should pay special attention to and when those steps are best implemented.

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Here’s how to best protect your home from children:

Smoke detectors and water heaters

Much of child safety doesn’t become necessary until your child begins to crawl, but there are a few things you can do before you even bring a newborn home. First things first: “You want to make sure the smoke detectors are operational and you can adjust the temperature of your water heater,†says Peter Kerin, owner of Foresight Childproofing in Minneapolis-St. Paul area and member of the board of directors of the International Child Safety Association.

Knowing that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working will help you have the peace of mind that all is well in the first few days and weeks with a new baby, and keeping your water heater set to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. , you reduce the chances of burning your baby in hot water at bath time, especially because a baby’s skin is more sensitive than an adult’s.

Crib

The spaces that your baby will spend the most time in should be carefully considered before you even bring the baby home. Especially for a newborn baby, any cradle or cradle should be a flat surface, without pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, or bumpers, as they can all pose a choking hazard even if your baby has not yet passed. reversed. Prepare for when your baby will start moving early, and keep all cords, wires, electronics, or other items out of reach. “You want to make sure there is a 3-foot ditch around the cradle – a 3-foot area around the cradle where there is nothing the child can grab,†says Kerin.

Baby clothes

Even items you buy designed for use with an infant can become dangerous if mishandled or understood. “We are a huge fan of always reviewing safety instructions,†says Colleen Driscoll, executive director of the International Association for Child Safety. Take the time to carefully read the instructions and safety manual for any item you purchase or receive for your baby, even something as simple as a baby bath.

Stairs

Prevent children from running down the stairs with barriers at both ends of the steps. Gates help prevent a crawling or walking baby from entering rooms without your supervision. While plastic removable baby gates often come to mind, Norman says it’s important to install gates more permanently on stairs – this usually means drilling a stud into the wall with the gate s’ opening onto the landing, rather than the stairs.

Especially around the stairs, be prepared to review your child safety as the child grows. “This door, which may be adequate for an 8 month old child, may be suitable for an 18 month old child,” Kerin explains.

Furniture along the wall

Anything taller than it is wide poses a risk of falling with a baby, especially a curious baby who is known to open drawers or try to reach a higher shelf. Eliminate the risk of your child being crushed by a shelf or dresser by anchoring the furniture to the wall. Many furniture companies include anchors when products are sold, but different types of hinge anchors, straps, and L-shaped metal bars are easy to purchase online or at home improvement stores, and will help to prevent furniture from tipping over. This also applies to large electronic devices, such as your TV speakers or audio system. “Anchor the furniture, anchor the TV, and hide the cords so the baby can’t get to them,†Driscoll explains.

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Cleaners

Simple household cleaning products pose a danger to young children who will not be able to tell between a bottle of juice and a colored bottle of bleach. While child-resistant cabinet latches are a great tactic, remove your cleaning supplies from under your kitchen or bathroom sink and place them in a tall cabinet. “Store these products safely out of the sight and reach of children,†says Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of communications, outreach and membership at the American Cleaning Institute.

Sansoni also cautions against homemade cleaning products, or at the very least taking the same care you would with a purchased cleaning agent: “If you mix it wrong, if you mix the wrong chemicals, it can be dangerous. … If you do it safely, do you label it? Do you make sure that this colorful preparation is out of the reach of children? ”

Plugs and cords

Protect your child from electrical hazards in the home by securing and hiding cords and blocking access to outlets. Flat plastic outlet covers that fit into an open outlet probably come to mind, but “the hard part with that is they’re as good as the outlet,” Kerin says. If the outlet is old and doesn’t hold a plug well, it won’t hold the outlet cover well either.

Instead, outlet covers that attach to the plate and look like a box covering both outlets are an option and work well to secure anything that needs to stay plugged in. Driscoll recommends using cordless when possible, and when it’s not “we try to hide things behind furniture with string covers,†she says.

Cabinets and drawers

For all those dangerous chemicals, sharps, and breakables that you have cleverly hidden away, you also need to make sure that your child won’t be able to open a cabinet, drawer, or closet door. Baby safety locks come in a variety of styles and can be applied to just about any opening you prefer to stay closed around your child, including cabinets, toilet covers, and even the refrigerator or the oven, although some are better than others. Kerin and Norman both recommend magnetic locks, which can easily be disarmed so adults aren’t also locked out of the fridge at snack time. “They’re still the best on the market,†Norman says.

Low table

Adding bumpers and soft corners to hard furniture helps reduce fall and shock accidents, but sometimes it’s better to redesign a room to eliminate those fall hazards. “If there is a coffee table in the family room, the easiest solution is to put it in the basement,†says Kerin. “Try moving it to another space. If the child has more ground to crawl on, you also remove the chances of him falling on it.

Laundry materials

One trend in home renovations is a laundry room makeover – a project welcomed by parents of young children, as there is always laundry to be done. However, with a nicer space to get the job done and plenty of laundry to do, be sure to keep laundry-related items and chemicals out of little hands and mouths. Laundry detergent pods can be especially appealing to young children, but liquid detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets should also be kept out of reach and sight.

If you spruce up your laundry room, Sansoni cautions against the tendency to move all laundry products into clear jars or more attractive containers to keep on the counter. “It can be dangerous, especially if there are children in the house. These products must always, always, always be kept in their original containers, â€explains Sansoni. The last thing you want is laundry detergent pods to look like candy in a candy jar.

Prohibited rooms

It is best to leave some rooms off limits to children, unless you bring them yourself. These spaces might be more difficult to protect from children, like the garage or an unfinished basement, or have more items that need to be free of any kid’s touches, like a home office. For these spaces, “deny access with a high door lock,” says Driscoll. This makes access easy for adults, while keeping children outside. Make sure you find one that allows for use on both sides of the door, so no one gets locked in or out of a room accidentally.

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Cooking tools

One way to encourage safe behavior on the part of your baby or toddler is to make sure that potentially dangerous items are not considered toys at any time. “Maybe you have pots and pans, and it looks like a kid can play with that which is safe, but it’s hard (for a baby) to figure out that it’s a toy when you’re on the floor. but it’s not when it’s on the stove, “Driscoll says. Both Driscoll and Kerin stress the importance of teaching your child that kitchen utensils are tools, not toys, and that they should only be used for the intended purpose.

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How to best protect your home from children originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 09/30/21: This story was posted at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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