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Childproofing your home

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Childproofing your home

About 2.5 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. Simple child safety devices on the market today can help prevent many of these accidents.

Tips on buying a safety device

Here are some things to look for when buying a safety device for your home.

  • Make sure the device you buy is sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child.
  • Check the device for ease of use.
  • Follow installation instructions carefully.
  • If you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices.
  • Keep in mind that no safety device is completely childproof.

Where to buy safety devices

You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at the following places:

  • Hardware stores
  • Baby equipment shops
  • Supermarkets
  • Drug stores
  • Home and linen stores
  • Mail order catalogues

What safety devices to buy

The following child safety devices can help prevent many injuries to young children.

Safety latches and locks

Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from reaching household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects.

  • Look for safety latches and locks that are easy for you to install and use, but are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children.
  • Lock away all dangerous substances, including those with child-resistant packaging. Such packaging is not always childproof.
  • Remember that safety latches are not a guarantee of protection.

Safety gates

Use safety gates to help prevent falls down stairs and to keep children away from dangerous areas.

  • Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that you can open and close without difficulty.
  • For the top of stairs, use gates that screw to the wall. They are more secure than “pressure gates.”
  • If you have an older gate, be sure it doesn’t have “V” shapes that are large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.

Door knob covers and door locks

Use door knob covers and door locks to prevent children from entering rooms and other areas with possible dangers, including pools. Sliding glass doors with built-in locks are often not effective barriers to pools.

  • Be sure the door knob cover is sturdy enough not to break, but allows a door to be opened quickly by an adult in case of an emergency.
  • To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks should be placed high, out of the reach of young children.
  • Use locks in addition to fences and door alarms.

Anti-scald devices

Water coming from a tap can be hot enough to cause a serious burn. Take these steps to prevent injury.

  • Use anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads for regulating temperature and preventing burns. A plumber may need to install these.
  • Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent burns from hot water.

Smoke detectors

Smoke detectors are essential safety devices for protection against fire injuries and deaths.

  • Use smoke detectors in every level of your home and near bedrooms.
  • Check smoke detectors once a month to make sure that they’re working.
  • If detectors are battery-operated, change batteries at least once a year or consider using 10-year batteries.

Window guards and safety netting

Use window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks, and landings. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.

  • Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained.
  • Make sure there is no more than four inches between the bars of the window guard.
  • If you have window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire.

Corner and edge bumpers

Use corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries and soften falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces. Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture or hearth edges.

Outlet covers and outlet plates

Use outlet covers and outlet plates to help prevent electric shock and possible electrocution.

  • Be sure that the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children.
  • Look for outlet protectors that are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors

Use a carbon monoxide detector outside bedrooms to help prevent CO poisoning. You should use a CO detector if you have gas or oil heat or have an attached garage.

Window blind cord safety tassels

A window blind cord can create a dangerous situation for a small child. Here are ways to make the cords safer.

  • Cut window blind cords and use safety tassels to help prevent children from strangling in blind cord loops.
  • Use window blind safety tassels on mini-blinds and tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords.
  • For older mini-blinds, cut the cord loop, remove the buckle, and put safety tassels on each cord.
  • Be sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight.
  • When buying new mini-blinds, verticals, and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation.

Door stops and door holders

Use door stops and door holders to help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges. Be sure any safety device for doors is easy to use and is not likely to break into small parts, which could be a choking hazard for young children.

Cordless phone

Use a cordless phone to make it easier to continually watch young children, especially when they’re in bathtubs, swimming pools, or other potentially dangerous areas.


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Last reviewed January 2002 by ]]>EBSCO Publishing Editorial Staff]]>

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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