As your child grows, his or her love of exploring grows. This means that he or she is learning about the world around him or her, but it also can mean that everyday household items can be dangerous or even deadly.
When was the last time you crawled around your home on your hands and knees? As strange as it sounds, give it a go. Kids explore their everyday environments, so it’s crucial to check things out from their perspective to make sure your home is safe.
Although we often think of babies and toddlers when we hear the words “babyproof” or “childproof,” unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children 14 and younger, with more than one-third of the injuries happening at home.
The best time to begin thinking about childproofing your home is before your child is born. You’ll have some time on your hands to begin babyproofing, and this early stage will allow childproofing practices to become habit by the time they are essential.
So what will you need to childproof your home? Safety locks and latches can keep a roaming child from getting into cabinets and drawers that contain hazardous items, and baby gates can prevent your child from entering rooms that you don’t want them in or from falling down stairs. Outlet covers will keep little fingers from poking into electrical outlets, which can cause shock and possible electrocution. Corner protectors and edge cushions protect your child’s head while he or she is exploring the house. And while it can be hard to know where a feisty, roving child is at all times, audio and visual baby monitors can offer peace of mind when you are out of the room.
Bathroom safety is important, too. Use locks or latches on medicine cabinets to prevent potential overdoses or poisonings. Latches also should be used on toilets to prevent drowning. Covers also are available for tub and sink faucets to prevent your child from bumping his or her head.
Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home, with detectors outside every bedroom door, and check your smoke detector’s battery at least once each year. Also install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
Most safety-proofing is a matter of common sense. With a bit of creativity and a lot of advance planning, childproofing your home can become second nature.
Household injuries are one of the top reasons children ages 3 and younger visit the emergency room, and nearly 70 percent of the children who die from unintentional injuries at home are 4 or younger. Young children have the highest risk of being injured at home because that’s where they spend most of their time.
Supervision is the best way to prevent injuries, in the home and outside, but even the most watchful parents can’t keep kids out of harm’s way every second of the day. Prevention can eliminate almost all of these injuries.
■ Keep guns and choking hazards as well as toxic, hot and sharp items out of reach.
■ Use safety gates.
■ Install outlet covers.
■ Never leave young children unattended in the bath.
■ Install smoke detectors.
■ Install knob covers on doors to areas that are not childproofed.
■ Don’t put soft bedding or toys in cribs.
■ Don’t use walkers.
Cheryl R. Dalton is an emergency management specialist with the Routt County Office of Emergency Management.