Childproofing Your Home

Children are adventurous, and an unprotected home can provide many opportunities for accidents and mishaps. You can protect your children from these household dangers with a little bit of foresight and some inexpensive products that are designed with child safety in mind.

Cabinet Concerns    to top

One of the most dangerous places for children to find is the area under your bathroom or kitchen sink. This is a common place to store cleansers and other toxic products; you can either choose to move your cleansers to a safer location, or you can purchase one of the many cabinet locks that are now available on the market.

Cabinet locks are usually made of plastic and have a mechanism that is hard for your child to undo. Different models are available for different styles of cabinets. Some loop through the handles, locking into place, and can only be unlocked when adequate pressure is applied. Models are also available for cabinets with recessed handles, and for cabinets that lack handles, too. Your local department or hardware store will have a selection on hand

Tot Tip
Unless you drastically alter its appearance (decoupage over the bottle, etc.), never recycle a drink container to use it to store cleansers or household chemicals. Young children can't read the warnings you write over the labels, and might easily reach for one and take a drink.

Keep the Kitchen Safe     to top

Refrigerators and deep freezers are dangerous traps for all children. Children often don't have the strength necessary to open such a door from the inside; to protect them, make it so that they can't get inside in the first place, and install child locks on the doors.

You should also get a child lock for your oven door in order to prevent a child from climbing inside. For the stovetop, install covers for the knobs. This will prevent children from turning on the stove.

Avoid Bathroom Boo-Boos     to top

A toilet can seem like a fascinating plaything to a child. To avoid having to call a plumber to unplug lines clogged with toys, invest in a toilet lock. Similar to a cabinet lock, it will hold your toilet seat and lid closed; children won't be able to undo it, but adults will have no problem.

If you are concerned about your child in the bathtub, you can purchase inflatable covers for the taps and faucet. If your child falls against the fixtures, the chance for injury is reduced. Such covers will also reduce the chance of scalding, as the children won't be able to turn on the taps. (Never leave a small child unattended in the tub!)

Tot Tip
Don't forget the washer and dryer! Both can be equally dangerous if a child manages to get inside. Secure the appliance doors, or lock the door to the laundry room or basement.

Electrical Outlets and Cords     to top

Any unused electrical outlets should be sealed with outlet plugs or covers. Outlet plugs are small plastic pieces made specifically to seal the opening of the outlet; you plug them into the open outlet to block the opening. A great deal of your child's playtime is imitating things he or she has seen you do; that's how kids learn. You don't want your child to try to insert something into an outlet while playing house. Using outlet plugs will force your child to pretend to plug something in and therefore should be placed in every unused outlet.

When you're vacuuming or ironing, it can be a pain to have to remove the outlet plug each time you want to plug in an appliance. Fortunately, outlet covers are also available. These attach over the face of the outlet and have little doors that swing away when you wish to use the outlet. When closed, they lock shut, and cannot be opened by small fingers.

Dangerous Drawstrings     to top

Remember that your child's world occurs about four feet below yours, so take a look around your house for anything that might be enticing to a child. Cords dangling from tables can easily be pulled on (they look like mountain climbing equipment to a kid), causing lamps or other appliances to fall. Whenever possible, hide the cords, or anchor them to furniture with wire ties.

Look for other hanging cords, like you may find on your blinds or curtains. Tie these up, out of children's reach.

Tot Tip
Check your furniture, too. Is anything such as a bookcase or a chest of drawer out of balance? If you open a drawer in a cabinet, does it create a risk of the cabinet falling forward? If so, you may want to anchor the cabinet or other piece of furniture to the wall or provide some sort of adequate counterbalance. This way, if your child tries to climb up on any of them, the furniture won't topple over and trap the child underneath.

Garage and Workbench Wisdom    to top

Store chemicals and dangerous substances in a locked cabinet, or in a cabinet that is secured with childproof cabinet locks. Don't take any chances with paint, gasoline, or other noxious substances.

Take special care with your workbench or areas that have sharp tools. Make sure that all tools are put away, and don't leave out tools such as electric sanders or portable saws. These tools can cause a great deal of damage in a very small amount of time; make sure you protect your children by making safety a priority in your work area.

Stairway Safety     to top

If the stairs are protected by a door, consider childproofing the door. Plastic doorknob covers are available that must be squeezed tightly before the knob can be turned, so that a child cannot open the door. Alternatively, you may wish to use a latching system that will hold the door closed.

If you don't have a door above the stairs, secure them with a child gate. Put the gate at the top of the stairs to keep children from falling but don't forget to put them at the bottom of stairs going up, too. Children can climb the stairs and fall back down, so take this extra precaution.

Tot Tip
Remember that chances are your kids aren't the only ones who'll encounter hazards around your home. Your children become aware of the hazards once you point them out (sometimes repeatedly, but eventually it soaks in). When I was five and visiting my cousins' house, I fractured my skull when I ran in off the back porch and, intending to go into the bathroom, I grabbed the adjacent basement door instead! A lock on that door would have prevented that first step from being a doozy. Learn from my mistake, and take precautions that will protect relatives' children and neighborhood children, too.

Avoiding Pinched Fingers     to top

Folding closet doors can pinch tiny fingers. Not only is it very painful for the child, delicate bones can become broken. Special child locks are available for folding closet doors, which are held shut when the lock is activated.

You can also avoid pinched fingers by purchasing pinch guards pieces of foam or rubber you slip onto the door to keep it from closing all the way. This way, tiny fingers won't get slammed.

An Ounce of Prevention     to top

Accidents can happen within seconds, and the consequences can last a lifetime. Using these inexpensive tricks, you will protect your family from accidents that could have been easily prevented.

sales annex

Save 30% off select Idiot's Guides

Click here to see our list of specially priced books in our Sales Annex