Preparing your home for children takes a lot of work, whether it’s your first child or just a new home for you and your growing family. Sometimes childproofing is about adding safety features, while other times it means removing hazards. Each room in your home poses unique dangers, so childproofing your living room is different than your kitchen.
When your children are still crawling, your primary strategy should be prevention – keep them away from dangerous spots and objects. As your children get older, your safety strategy can shift toward education. Teaching your children to be safe and responsible empowers them to make better decisions in and out of your home.
So, where is a busy parent to begin? Start with the essentials, and when all else fails, put a baby gate in front of unsafe rooms until you have a chance to babyproof them.
Identifying Safe and Unsafe Parts of Your Home
Unintentional injuries are one of the top reasons that children visit the emergency room, but many injuries are entirely preventable if you have proper safety measures in place.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THESE UNSAFE ITEMS:
- Chemicals – Cleaners and medicines are obvious to many parents, but you should also store face creams, sunscreen, toothpaste, and scented candles out of your child’s reach.
- Electrical Outlets – By the time your child is crawling, her fine motor skills have developed just enough for her to wiggle something into an open outlet.
- Stairs – Once your little one is mobile, make sure that you block off the top and bottom of all of the staircases in your home. As your child grows, reinforce that you should always walk up the stairs, rather than run, or you could trip and fall.
- Fireplaces – Stoking tools should be stored away from the fireplace, and you should always have a heat shield in place. All fireplaces should have a glass or metal grate to keep children away from the soot of a wood-burning fire or the decorative stones of an electrical fire.
USE THESE SAFE ITEMS TO REDUCE ACCIDENTS:
- Cabinet Locks – Cabinets, even if they just have pots and pans, should be locked if your child can reach the handles. If you want to keep your little one entertained while you make dinner, designate one or two drawers or cabinets for explorative play. Fill them with plastic Tupperware, wooden spoons, plastic cups, and other baby-safe items.
- Padding on Sharp Corners – Tables and fireplaces hearths, for example, often have sharp corners that can cause bumps and scrapes. You can pad sharp spots with anything from felt fabric to pool noodles.
- Tamper-Proof Outlets – Unused outlets throughout your home should be covered so that your children can’t stick anything into the openings. Spring-loaded outlet covers are a smart option because they automatically close when not in use. Hire a professional to install them throughout your home to take one childproofing item off of your plate!
- Stairway Gates – Baby gates protect kids from falling down the stairs, but you can also use them to block off any unsafe rooms. When possible, use frame-mounted baby gates rather than those with pressure bars as many toddlers are strong enough to push through them.
- Recessed Lights – Electrical cords pose a strangulation risk to small children, so installing recessed lights an effective way to eliminate that risk.
Not Sure Where To Start Your Childproofing?
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Your Home’s 4 Biggest Dangers
If you want to focus your childproofing on the things that will make the most significant difference, address the following four dangers first:
1. ELECTRICAL CORDS
Teething children put everything into their mouths, including electrical cords. Keep power cords out of your child’s reach so that they cannot chew through the cable. Dangling cords also tempt curious kids to pull on them, which can bring an appliance down onto them.
If you find yourself using and babyproofing a lot of extension cords throughout your house, it’s time to hire a professional to install additional outlets. Extension cords pose risks to your children, and so do overloaded electrical circuits. When you use a lot of extension cords and surge protectors so that you can plug several things into one outlet, you create a potential fire hazard.
A clean home is healthy, but sometimes the chemical cleaners that you use can harm your children. Residue from toxic cleaners will linger on surfaces throughout your house and can get on your child’s hands, which practically live in his mouth when he’s young. Choose natural cleaners to avoid the risk of your child ingesting toxic residue.
You should lock any cabinet that holds cleaners, as well as beauty products like perfume, hair spray, and nail polish. Sometimes, children mistake laundry and dish soap pods for candy, so remove the temptation by switching to powdered soap and keeping it locked away as well.
Keep the telephone number for the national poison control center posted in a prominent location in your home so you can find it quickly in an emergency (800-222-1222).
3. OUTDATED OUTLETS
If your home was built in 1960 or before, there is a good chance that your outlets are not grounded. How can you tell whether they are or not? If they have a third, round hole beneath the two plug slits, then they are grounded.
Grounded outlets add a layer of safety to your electrical system because they give stray electrical currents a place to flow – through the grounded wire into your fuse box or circuit breaker. Without the ground wire, stray electrical currents can flow through metal appliances and into anyone who touches them.
To improve the safety of your home, have a professional electrician ground all of your outlets and install spring-loaded outlet covers while he’s at it.
4. KITCHEN AND BATHROOMS WITHOUT GFCI OUTLETS
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets have a built-in electricity monitor that stops the flow of power to the outlet in the event of an electrical surge. The surge could be from something electrical falling into water or from a hot wire coming in contact with a ground wire inside an appliance.
Newer homes will already have GFCI outlets, but if your home does not yet have them, it would be wise to have a professional install them in your kitchen, bathrooms, and other rooms with high moisture levels.
No matter how carefully you teach your children that they should not have an appliance plugged in near the bathtub, accidents can still happen. Safeguard your children against a catastrophe with GFCI outlets.
Kids and Kitchens
Your kitchen is one of the most dangerous rooms in your home. It’s full of sharp objects, heavy appliances, and suffocation hazards. Other than installing GFCI outlets in your kitchen, there are several steps that you can take to make the space safer for your kids.
In addition to locking cabinets with cleaners in them, you should also lock drawers or cupboards that contain cling wrap, plastic bags, and spices as these are potential suffocation and poisoning hazards. If you want to keep your kitchen looking its best, you can purchase magnetic locks that mount to the inside of your drawers and cabinets. You unlock them with a magnetic key, so from the outside, all that you can see is your beautiful cabinetry.
Keep appliances pushed to the back of your countertop or stowed away in locked cupboards, and never let a cord dangle over the edge of your countertop. Many appliances such as food processors and toasters are very heavy and could severely hurt a small child if he pulls it down onto himself.
Sharp tools like knives, scissors, and cheese graters should be stored high above your child’s reach or in locked drawers. Also, glassware is easy to shatter and could injure your child, so keep it up out of reach too.
Always Childproof Accessible Outlets
Kids are naturally curious, so when a low outlet catches their eye, they want to check it out. Exploration is an essential part of your child’s brain development, so instead of stifling it, you can childproof your home’s electrical systems to create a safe environment for investigating and learning.
Thousands of kids each year experience electrical shocks. Common causes are chewing through electrical cords, from an electrical current making contact with water they’re sitting in, and from sticking things into electrical outlets. You can prevent the majority of accidental shocks through proper cord management, installing GFCI outlets, and spring-loaded outlet covers.
Plastic outlet inserts work okay in a pinch, but the small plastic insert is a choking hazard if your little one gets a hold of it. The inserts also rely on parents remembering to put them back in place once they’re finished using an outlet.
A professional can install spring-loaded outlet covers that do not have small, hazardous parts, nor do they require that busy parents remember to re-secure them to safeguard curious kids.
Many Electrical Accidents Are Preventable!
The Hidden Dangers of Lamps
Knives and chemicals are obvious dangers, but other hazards can be hiding in plain sight. For example, the unassuming lamp that you sit by as you read bedtime stories has the potential to harm your child in several ways.
Corded appliances can strangle, shock, and burn your children. Cables are also enticing for little hands to grip, so your house could be full of broken lamps before you know it. Lamps with light-weight bases tip over easily, but those with sturdy, heavy bases pose a greater risk of injury if they fall off of an end table.
Lamps that use halogen or incandescent light bulbs create heat, which can severely burn your child’s hands. If you decide to keep your lamps, LED bulbs are a safer choice because they create very little heat.
To eliminate every single danger that lamps pose, hire professional electricians to install recessed overhead lights and wall-mounted lights. Both types of lighting are on-trend, plus they help make small rooms feel more spacious. Your children will be safer, and they’ll even have more space to play.
As technology becomes a more integral part of our daily lives, our homes are quickly becoming overrun with electrical cords. Not only is the tangle of wires spilling out from behind your entertainment center unsightly, but it’s also dangerous for your children.
The simplest way to manage your cords is to hide them from your child’s sight. If a child cannot see something, she will have no urge to play with it. Many TV stands and entertainment consoles have holes in the back panel so that you can thread cords through and hide them behind the furniture. If yours does not already have holes, it would be an easy DIY project to create them.
If you do not have an outlet behind your entertainment console, you can use rubber cord covers and cord shortening devices to help hide the cables. If you use power strips to plug in a multitude of devices, you can also purchase plastic covers that wrap around the entire power strip to keep little fingers away from the plugs.
One of the dangers of using power strips is that you can overload your outlets and cause a fire. An electrician can add additional outlets to your room so that you can hide wires behind your furniture and reduce your reliance on power strips. Also, he can check your electrical panel to ensure that it can handle all of your devices. If it does not have the necessary capacity, he can update the panel to make your home safer.
Are You Struggling to Identify the Electrical Dangers in Your Home?
Childproofing Your Home’s Electrical Systems is a MUST
Time flies, and before you know it, your newborn will grow into an inquisitive toddler. Childproofing electrical outlets and cords should be two of your top priorities because they are at eye-level for little ones, which makes them incredibly tempting.
Between your family and your career, your plate is already full. Instead of trying to tackle all of the childproofing yourself, trust the experts at Barnett Electrical to help you identify and remedy potential hazards in your home.
Every house is unique, so you may or may not need to ground your outlets, add GFCIs to your kitchen and bathrooms, or add additional outlets to more effectively hide your electronic cords. While we help you childproof, we can also address your current lighting and determine whether it’s a good time to upgrade to safer recessed and wall-mounted lights.
With over 30 years of experience, our knowledgeable electricians can help you decide which safety measures will best serve you and your family so that your children can learn and grow in the safest environment possible.
If you have any questions about childproofing, no matter how big or small, get in touch with us today at (405) 407-0806 or email@example.com.