Home Safe Home
Do you have small children, or will you be playing host to guests with a child or children this holiday season? If so, consider the tips below to make your home a safer place both for the kids who live there and those who are just visiting.
- Cover electrical outlets with safety caps, or, safer still, replace regular covers with sliding ones, which automatically slide closed when plugs are removed; this way, you needn't worry about children pulling safety caps out or remembering to re-insert them when finished using an outlet. Unplug appliances when they're not being used and keep electrical cords wound up and out of kids' reach.
- If they don't have them already, any electrical outlets that are near sources of water should be outfit with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which stop the flow of electricity in the event an appliance should fall into the water. And speaking of water, anti-scalding devices should be installed on all faucets and showerheads.
- Install safety gates at the top and foot of stairs and in the doorways of rooms that pose hazards for children (e.g. the kitchen). Keep in mind that tension-mounted gates are not as secure as those that affix to walls with hardware; children may use gates, as they use furniture, to pull themselves up, making pressure-mounted gates especially dangerous for stairs. Avoid accordion-style gates – they can ensnare little limbs and heads.
- Take precautions against poisonings. Amongst other items, cleaning products, cosmetics, medications and vitamins, and even some indoor houseplants can be toxic to children. Make sure they are inaccessible by keeping them high enough to be out of reach, or storing them in drawers or cupboards that can be locked or latched.
- Inexpensive and available in various sizes, window stops or guards should be installed in order to prevent falls. Easily screwed into the sides of window frames, stops and guards should have easy-release mechanisms allowing older children or adults to quickly open them in case of fire. Additionally, make sure that window coverings don't have cords that could pose a strangulation hazard.
- Install childproof safety latches on all cupboards and drawers to keep children away from hazardous items and substances, as well as on dishwashers, chest freezers, mini-fridges and any other airtight spaces where a child could become trapped. Consider outfitting toilets with lid locks too.
- Use anchors and brackets to secure heavy furniture such as bookshelves, televisions, and dressers so they don't topple over should children attempt to pull themselves up on such items. Equip furniture corners and edges with bumpers to prevent injury in the event of falls. Be conscientious about where your furniture is situated – you don't want it placed where children could use it to get a leg up to where they shouldn't be.
- If decorating a Christmas tree, avoid hanging breakable tree ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on the lower branches, where small children can grab them.