Child-proofing your home
Home is where the heart is... but it's also the place where our kids are most likely to injure themselves. Keep them safe by taking these precautions.
- To prevent a TV from toppling, place it on a stable cabinet and secure it to the cabinet or wall.
- Always use the ‘metre from the heater’ rule and protect little ones from burns by using a fire guard.
- Ensure your home is fitted with working smoke alarms. Clean with the vacuum once a month and, while doing so, test the alarm by pushing the test button. Batteries must be changed once a year.
- To prevent children from pulling on cables, tidy them away. Hardware stores sell handy gadgets to conceal/tidy cables.
- A play-pen is a safe choice if you need to briefly leave your child unattended.
- Beware of furniture with a high centre of gravity that could easily topple onto a small child.
- Getting down to a child’s level helps you find potential danger zones.
- Put wine bottles, small objects, glassware and other breakables up high.
- Put locks on cupboard doors and windows.
- If an object can fit inside a cling-wrap roll, it is a choking hazard.
- Use socket covers in electrical outlets to prevent children inserting objects into them.
- Use safety glass in high-risk places such as low windows and swinging doors.
- Prevent little fingers from getting caught in doors by using a hook to hold them open.
- Put hot drinks in the middle of the table, out of reach.
- Don’t use table cloths – children can tug on them, pulling hot food and drinks or heavy objects onto themselves.
- Keep scissors/sharp objects out of reach.
- Padding around sharp table corners can protect novice crawlers and walkers from cuts, bumps and bruises.
- Some parents keep their little ones out of the kitchen altogether by using a safety gate. Never leave cooking unattended. Always turn pot handles to the back of the stove; it is safer to cook on rear elements. Keep appliance cords (i.e. kettle, toaster) out of reach.
- Don’t store medicines or caffeine-loaded drinks in the fridge door – you can buy child guards if you’re worried. Don’t forget to put medicines away after use when your child is sick. Ask your pharmacist for child-resistant caps on medicines and always screw the lids on properly.
- Store sharp kitchen knives and utensils out of reach. Never put sharp knives in the lower dishwasher drawer and place cutlery point down. If possible, enable the dishwasher child lock.
- Cleaning products are poisons. Store out of reach and in a locked cupboard. In case of poisoning, call 0800 POISON (0800 764 766).
- Young skin burns more quickly and deeply and at lower temperatures than adult skin. Hot food pulled straight from the microwave is a common cause of childhood burns.
- Keep your microwave at bench height and chase kids out of the kitchen when you’re removing hot food from the microwave or oven.
- Little crawlers love pet food; they will eat it or transport it through the house. Shelley and Steven have moved their cat bowl to the garage.
- Check cupboards for breakable or hazardous objects. Use cupboard door locks.
- Make sure there are no medications by your bedside.
- Falls from beds and furniture are a common cause of hospitalisation. Even if your baby hasn’t rolled yet, he will soon, so don’t leave him on the bed unattended.
- The floor is the safest place to change nappies and clothes.
- If you use a change table, have everything to hand and keep one hand on your baby while changing nappies. Use the safety belt.
- Furniture placed under windows offer ideal climbing frames for curious youngsters. To prevent falls out of windows, use window safety locks.
- Shelves can be a visual feast for young ones – all those tempting objects plus convenient hand and foot grips for climbing. To childproof your shelves: Secure the shelving unit to the wall. Allow your child easy access to his toys and books by placing them on low shelves so he will be less tempted to climb.
- Never leave young children alone in the bath, and maintain hand contact with babies at all times. To prevent hot water burns, set the hot water cylinder temperature to no higher than 55°C. When running the bath, run the cold tap first. Empty the bathtub after use and keep the plug out of reach.
- Slips in the bath and shower are common. Use non-slip mats. Install safety glass in high-risk glazing areas and always check that the floor is dry so your child won’t slip and fall against glass surfaces or sharp corners. Make sure your child can’t accidentally lock himself in the bathroom – remove low-set door handles with locks.
Stairs can lead to serious falls and injuries. Use stair gates at the top and bottom. Install hand rails and keep stairs free from clutter.
curtains Little ones can be tempted to swing on them; hook them to the side during the day.
heavy wall hangings could fall on your child. Don’t hang above their bedheads.
unstable furniture can cause falls.
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