Childproofing Your Home
I consider no safety checklist to be complete, but I have tried to be thorough in an effort to help make your home as safe as possible. Look around your home with a kid's-eye-view. If necessary, crawl around in an attempt to find hidden dangers. If you are a child care provider you should check your local and state regulations to make sure you comply.
- Throughout your home:
- Cover all used or unused electric outlets that are accessible. You can get covers designed for outlets that are in use all or part of the time.
- Cleaning supplies, medication, shampoo, and cosmetics should be locked up.
- Knives, tools, pencils and other sharp objects (this includes boxes with serrated edges like plastic wraps) should be locked away or out of reach.
- Lock up matches and cigarette lighters.
- Keep plastic bags out of children's reach.
- Keep small objects like coins, small doll shoes, marbles, and paper clips picked up and out of sight.
- Never give a balloon to a child under three. I don't even allow them in my home. I have heard more scary stories about children choking on balloons than any other toy.
- Check for poisonous plants in your home. If you're not sure about a specific plant check with your local nursery or poison control center.
- Check to make sure that furniture is in good repair with no sharp corners. Furniture should also be stable and not easily overturned.
- Make sure there are no toys, electrical extension cords, or rugs in the walkways that could cause someone to trip.
- Make sure that guns are locked up and that the ammunition is stored separately.
- Fire Safety/First Aid:
- Fans and space heaters need to be safe and out of children's reach. Check with your local fire department. They may inspect your home on request.
- Smoke detectors should be present and in good working order. Change your batteries at least twice a year. Pick two important days like Christmas and the Fourth of July and make it a tradition to change batteries on those days. I change my batteries when the time changes to and from daylight savings time.
- Practice fire drills often.
- Keep fire extinguishers located in places of easy access in the event of a fire. I have a 40 BC in the kitchen and a 10 ABC by a fire exit.
- Make a fire escape diagram and emergency plan (each area the children use should have two fire exits).
- Keep your first aid kit up-to-date. I have the following in my first aid kit: different sized adhesive bandages, gauze pads, tape, cling, sterile water, tweezers, scissors, cotton balls, antiseptic (hydrogen peroxide), ipecac syrup, activated charcoal, pencil and incident report form, and first aid text. In addition I keep these things in my car plus clean bath towels and a blanket. It is also recommended to check the expiration dates on all medications. Ipecac syrup may become ineffective; which in an emergency could mean disaster.
- Have all emergency numbers posted by the phone. Include your address and phone number, phone numbers of parents, phone numbers of emergency contacts, doctors phone numbers, fire department phone, police phone, poison control, and any other emergency numbers you may need. There may be other numbers you are required to post by your phone.
- In the Kitchen/Bathroom:
- Water temperature should be no hotter than 120 degrees. A candy thermometer can be used to check the temperature of your water. If the water is too hot it can be turned down at the water heater.
- Small appliances such as coffee pots should be kept out of reach.
- Pot handles should be turned inwards.
- Electrical cords must not be left hanging from cabinets.
- No containers of water should be left accessible to young children (this includes the potty, if needed get a potty lock.)
- Infant Safety:
Note: In this section the rules apply to all infant furniture such as the crib, playpen, infant swing, and more. To describe the problem, I have use a place where the problem commonly occurs. Check for the problems in all your equipment. For example check proper bar space in playpens, high chairs, or any other infant equipment that has bars.
- The space between crib bars should be no more than 2 3/8 inches.
- Cribs should have no knobs or posts that stick up more than a half inch. Babies may catch their cloths on knobs and choke.
- On any side, you should be able to put only two fingers between the mattress and crib frame.
- Try not to use older cribs that have been repainted. Many of the older paints contained lead which can cause serious nerve and brain damage.
- The crib rail should require two movements to be moved down. This ensures that an infant can not put it down accidentally while playing in the crib.
- Do not hang toys in the crib. There have been several instances of children getting entangled in "crib gyms".
- Locate the crib away from windows. Breaking glass and hanging cords from window dressings are dangerous to infants.
- Locate the crib away from electric outlets. Even if you have your plugs covered babies will play with outlets for days until they finally get them uncovered.
- Check for loose nuts and bolts on the crib. Do this often as some children like to take things apart.
- The mesh on play pens should be small enough that a baby's button cannot get caught in one of the holes. Holes should be less than 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch.
- Put away all small objects.
- If you use a walker never let the child out of your sight. I suggest that you not use walkers. There have been many accidents with many different designs of walkers. Walkers are generally considered unsafe.
- Outdoor Safety:
I consider outdoor safety to be the most difficult area of the home to childproof. As with any area of your home the more you supervise the less likely an accident will occur. Always remember that even the best supervised children can have accidents.
- Play area should be fenced with no access to roads or water.
- There should be no places where children can become trapped such as old refrigerator, cars, or under buildings.
- Children should not be allowed around piles of firewood or anything else that bugs, snakes, or other creatures might choose to call home.
- Keep children away from electrical equipment such as air conditioners.
- Children should never be allowed to play around lawn equipment such as mowers and edgers or when someone is using the equipment.
- Fill in, cover, or fence off any holes, wells, or crawl spaces. If a child crawled under your house it could take some time to find them and an old well could be the end of a child.
- Check for poisonous plants. If you are unsure about a specific plant check with poison control.
- Play equipment should have no bolts sticking out that could catch clothing, poke holes or scratch children.
- Play equipment should have no "V" shaped bars that could trap a child by a foot or neck.
- "S" hooks on play equipment should be completely closed.
- Swing seats should to be made of a soft material that will reduce the impact if a child is accidentally hit.
- The distance between the front or back of the swing and anything else like a fence or toy should be far enough that if a child falls or jumps from a swing he will not hit or land on anything.
- Cover your sand box. This will keep the sun from making the sand dangerously hot in the summer and will keep out trash and pets.
- Do not leave children unattended for even a moment if there is any water accessible to them.
The above checklist is from "The ABC's of Home Child care" by Karen Potter, copyright 1994.
I hope you find this list helpful.
email your comments or suggestions. Thank you.
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times since April 25, 1998.