Child-proofing your home involves limiting your newborn's, toddler's, or child's access to everything that may become a hazard for their safety.
Child-proofing is helpful for your little ones, and for your whole family. It gives you the opportunity to check that your fire and CO2 alarms are in working order and have full house coverage. Child-proofing is also helpful for improving your home's energy efficiency and environment. Read on for more!
Our homes may appear very safe to us as adults. We know where to step, what not to put in our mouths, what's toxic, and what risks our safety. So, it's easy for us to glide through days at home without getting into serious trouble, like wandering into the backyard and falling into the pool, or sipping on bleach thinking it were a bottle of formula.
Babies, cute things that they are, are not endowed with the 'gift' of experience just yet, so we need to help them out a little. While all parents keep a watchful eye on their baby by the second, there are steps that you can take to prevent unforeseeable risks and have peace of mind, just in case your baby or toddler wiggles out of our sight (and they probably will).
Child Proofing Your Home from All Angles
According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, causes of child and youth injury in Canada depend on the child's exposure to hazards, among many other factors. The leading causes of injury-related deaths are motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) (17%), drowning (15%), threats to breathing (11%), and falls leading to hospitalization (37%).
It's clear that risks to a child’s safety can come from various sources. For this reason, we need to think about water, fire, falls, tripping, choking, locking, and electrical hazards. As adults, we may never even notice these things to be hazardous.
It may sound absurd, but an adult can drown in as little as an inch of water! Now, an unwatched baby and an inch of water looks like a recipe for disaster. Inhalation of water can be life-threatening for little ones.
With the above fact in mind, water safety for kids is not just limited to swimming pools. Drowning accidents can happen when children are left unattended with water containers or bathtubs.
Check that your bathroom door-lock is working and keep the door closed at all times. You may also want to consider keeping bath stoppers (which may be a choking hazard) out of your child’s reach. These steps can help you keep your little ones away from reservoirs of water. If your child is in a bathroom, be sure to accompany them, especially while bathing. Bathing your little ones in a shallow infant tub under strict supervision is highly recommended.
Purchasing a temperature regulating anti-scald device can help prevent hot water burns and scalds if a child does get into your bathroom. Anti-scald devices can help you save on energy for water heating. By turning off water flow during high temperatures, you cap and regulate your energy consumption in rooms that do not require exceptionally hot water.
Finally, consider the risks and solutions of your backyard pool. An unwatched child can easily find their way into the backyard and fall into a pool. You can prevent this by installing a fence or boundary around the pool.
Fencing around the pool that is secured with a locking system is one option to keep kids away from danger. Another option to keep kids away from drowning is investing in a safety pool cover.
Cover Star is a Canadian company that sells safety pool covers with a firm, walkable surface customized to fit your pool. Different Cover Star products can support significant weight ranges, protecting children from falling into the pool when nobody is watching.
Additionally, purchasing a good cover for your pool helps you save on gas or electricity costs for heating your pool, apart from keeping it clean.
Preventing Injuries from Windows
The pull cords on window coverings, such as blinds and curtains, can form loops that may lead to strangulation, but you don't have to get rid of your curtains or blinds to keep your little ones safe.
Investing in cordless window coverings will save your children from hazards while adding an aesthetic touch to your rooms. If you do choose window coverings that have loops for adjustment, keep them secured to a wall, out of reach, and move any furniture away from the chords to avoid children climbing and reaching them.
Remember that covering your windows with shades and blinds keeps sunlight out of the house on a sunny summer day, and heat away from windows during the cold winter days. Window coverings are great energy saving tools throughout the year. Some shades allow you to save up to 40% on cooling costs.
Covering open windows (and balconies) with specialized netting is suggested to prevent falling accidents. If you're interested in installing window netting or safety grilles, be sure to post your project for free and have professionals come to you with a quote!
Doors and Locks
Keeping your doors securely locked isn't always meant to keep people out of your home. Keeping your child in the home and out of particular rooms is equally important. There are countless incidents where children understand door-locking systems well enough to wander outside on their own in harsh weather conditions.
According to the International Building Code, doorknob height can be between 2.83 feet and 4 feet above the floor. Doors leading to water features or swimming areas are required to have a doorknob a little bit higher, between 4 feet and 4.5 feet above the floor, an exception made to keep children safer. Clearly, some standard doorknobs are still within reach of small children and toddlers. Be very cautious when dealing with the door's accessibility.
- If you have a round doorknob within reach of children, consider purchasing doorknob covers that limit their clutch around the knob. These are great for keeping children away from doors that lead to stairs, the laundry room, a furnace room, cold cellar, or bathroom.
- If you have a flat handle that is easy to grab, be sure to have a locking system well out of a child's reach, such as a swing latch style lock at around adult eye level
- If you have a sliding door, consider installing a pin locking system at the top of the door, or a security bar to keep the door totally shut, even when it's unlocked
Keep in mind that your backdoor to a pool area may not have been installed with the required height regulations in mind. The handle of your backdoor may be within a child's reach. Inspect it and apply the necessary changes.
Extra precaution can include alarms or bells activating at the opening and closing of a door to notify you in case junior is venturing into forbidden territory.
Stairs and Rooms
As soon as children can crawl, they will be able to maneuver their way around the house, making access to stairs a very dangerous thing. Having a playpen or crib may not be enough protection.
Consider installing indoor safety fences and gates where babies are exposed to flights of stairs, rooms with choking hazards (like kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms), and fireplaces.
Electrical Sockets and Wires
Electrical outlets should be covered when not in use, as children may push objects into sockets and expose themselves to electric shocks. Outlet covers are easy to find and inexpensive. Be sure to get covers that are firmly secured and cannot fit in a child's mouth, as this can lead to choking.
An upshot of buying some outlet covers is that they can save you up to 5% on energy a year by preventing power leakage. This makes them doubly advantageous as a baby proofing item.
Be sure to clear any exposed electrical cables out of children's reach. If you have electrical issues, find a competent electrician in your area to help you fix them!
Out of sight, out of mind doesn't apply to babies and toddlers like it does to adults. A youngster will open that cupboard or drawer under the sink containing chemicals, even when it's shut.
Welcoming a newborn into the home is also a great opportunity to detoxify your home of any chemical cleaners you might have, which can be dangerous for your family's health.
Finding biodegradable detergents that are free from toxic chemicals and using homemade natural cleansers reduces the hazards toxins pose to your child. Even if your toddlers get their hands on natural cleansers like vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda, they aren't so dangerous—they just taste bad.
Did you know that an incandescent bulb releases 90% of its energy as heat? A regular incandescent general lamp bulb can heat up to 200 to 260 Degrees Celsius! That exceeds the threshold (60 Degrees Celsius) for a second-degree burn in 3 seconds of heat!
You may not realize it but these bulbs can be very dangerous for children, even into their later years.
Consider switching incandescent bulbs that are around hip level to LED bulbs that remain cool to the touch (CFL bulbs may still heat up).
A great advantage of LED bulbs is that they use less energy to produce the same number of lumens (the amount of emitted brightness) as incandescent bulbs. While LED bulbs can be more expensive upfront in comparison to incandescent bulbs, they are an investment for saving money in the future. LED bulbs use 2-17 watts of electricity, a fraction of the Watts used by an incandescent or CFL bulb.
They can save you anywhere from 25%-80% on your power bill, compared to incandescent bulbs.
Supervision is the best Child Safety Tip
The best way to keep your youngsters safe is to keep a watchful eye. Although this article outlines common causes of injuries to children, there can be many more potential hazards inside your home. So, you should scrutinize everything in your home, asking yourself whether it's safe for your child.
Consider baby-proofing your home even if you don't have a baby! Who doesn't like saving energy and switching to a safer, healthier home?Posted by: Nicole Silver