One of the main reasons small children end up in the emergency room is because of injuries sustained at home. This is understandable, since home is where small children spend the majority of their time. To help foster safety and prevent injuries, we offer three tips for childproofing a home:
1. View the home from a child’s perspective
Go through the home and perform a thorough inspection from a child’s perspective. If you are physically able, get down on your hands and knees and crawl around to see the home as a child would see it. Look for sharp corners, and remove small items that are likely to end up in a child’s mouth. Check access to medicines and chemicals, and watch out for ways that a child might be burned.
Did you know that many children are injured by large items, such as a TV, falling on them as they use it to pull themselves up? Your goal in performing this exercise is to determine what changes need to be made in your living habits that will promote the safety of children in your home. This might mean rearranging furniture or moving hazardous items to a more secure location.
2. Make sure equipment meets safety standards
Purchase and use only cribs, highchairs, car seats, and other equipment that meet current safety standards. Certain drop-side cribs, bumpers, changing tables, and walkers have come under fire in recent years as not meeting safety standards.
Don’t assume that being new and presently sold in stores means it meets current standards. Prior to making a purchase, go online and check for compliance. Also, keep in mind that, although a device meets safety standards, it can sometimes be used in an unsafe manner. Be sure to read instruction manuals and operate the devices as they were intended.
3. Install safety devices
One of the best ways to childproof a home is to install safety devices designed to protect children. Most of these devices are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. They can usually be purchased at big box stores, hardware stores, and home centers, as well as online.
Such devices include safety latches for doors and drawers, safety gates, and electrical outlet covers. Recent advances in technology have resulted in more sophisticated safety devices, such as electronic baby monitors and GPS tracking. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should be used in all homes, regardless of whether children are present.
Although the measures listed here will promote safety and help to eliminate accidents, they are not foolproof. Children have been known to circumvent safeguards and disable safety devices. To maintain the effectiveness of childproofing measures, it will always be necessary to conduct periodic reviews, and make necessary adjustments in order to insure the safety of a child.