As you go through and childproof your home, you'll likely pay special attention to certain areas like the
kitchen. But certain safety rules and preventive steps apply to every room.
Here are some safeguards against commonplace household dangers that can protect not only your small child, but your entire family.
Check floors constantly for small objects that can be dangerous if a child swallows them. Examples include coins, beads, buttons, pins and pills, which can cause choking or poisoning. The best way to check is to get down at your child's level and see what's there. This is extra important if someone has a hobby that involves small items, or if there are older children who have small toys or other items.
Know which items your home have
button or lithium coin batteries and keep them out of reach of children.
When inhaled or swallowed, these small batteries can cause swift, life-threatening damage to the esophagus or intestines. They are found in many common household and personal products, such as small remote controls, key fobs, cameras, garage door openers, flameless candles, watches, toys and hearing aids.
Check furniture for stability and tip-over risk. Children can be seriously hurt or even killed when they children climb onto, fall against or pull themselves up on large pieces of furniture like bookshelves and dressers. Put floor lamps behind other furniture and anchor bookcases, dressers and TV stands to the wall. Also keep computers out of reach to so your child can't pull them onto themselves or get entangled in the cords.
To prevent falls from windows, open windows from the top if possible. If you must open them from the bottom, install operable window guards that only an adult or older child can open from the inside. A screen is not strong enough to prevent a fall. Never put chairs, sofas, low tables or anything else a child might climb on in front of a window.
Never leave plastic bags lying around the house. They can suffocate children. Don't store toys or other items in plastic bags, either. Dry-cleaning bags are particularly dangerous. Knot them before you throw them away so that it's impossible for your child to crawl into them or pull them over their head. Even a small torn-off piece can become a potential choking hazard.
Think about the potential hazard of anything you put into the trash. Any trash container used for possibly dangerous items—spoiled food, discarded razor blades batteries—should have a child-resistant cover or be kept out of a child's reach.
To prevent burns, check fireplaces, woodstoves, kerosene heaters and other heat sources in your home. These should be screened so that your child can't get near them. Gas fireplaces with glass doors get extremely hot and can cause severe burns when touched. Check electric baseboard heaters, radiators, and even vents from hot-air furnaces to see how hot they get. They, too, may need to be screened.
The safest home for a child is one without a gun. If you do have a gun, it is essential to store it unloaded in a locked case, with the ammunition locked in a separate location. In many states, parents are held liable for accidental firearm injuries involving children.
Put safety locks on all cabinets containing cleaning fluids or other dangerous items. Also keep all medications (including those you might carry in your purse) out of reach. Do not depend on child safety caps to protect your child from getting into medicine bottles.
Keep all alcoholic beverages in a locked cabinet and remember to empty any unfinished drinks immediately. Alcohol can be very toxic to a young child. Be sure to keep liquid nicotine for vaping and edible marijuana products out of reach, as well.
Install safety gates at both top and bottom of stairs when your child is learning to crawl and walk. Avoid accordion style gates, which can trap an arm or a neck. Instead, use gates firmly mounted to the home's studs. Also to prevent slips and falls, consider carpeting stairs. Be sure the carpet is firmly tacked down at the edges. If you have hardwood floors, don't let your child run around in socks, which can make slippery floors more dangerous.
- Pay attention to the doors between rooms. Glass doors are particularly dangerous, because a child may run into them. Fasten them open if possible. Swinging doors can knock a small child down, and folding doors can pinch little fingers. Consider removing these until your child is old enough to understand how they work.
Check for furniture with hard edges and sharp corners that could injure your child (coffee tables are a particular hazard). If possible, remove dangerous furniture from traffic areas, particularly when your child is learning to walk. You also can buy cushioned corner- and edge-protectors that stick onto the furniture.
- Certain houseplants may be harmful. Your regional Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) or the National Capital Poison Center (poison.org/articles/plant) has a list or description of plants to avoid. You may want to forego house plants for a while or, at least, keep them out of reach.