Transitioning from a household of adults to a home with an infant or small toddler is a huge change. Among other changes, one of the bigger points of emphasis should be on childproofing your home so that it doesn’t pose unnecessary risks to your child. In fact, it could mean the difference between life and death.
Each year, 9.2 million children are rushed to the emergency room as the result of an unintentional injury. An average of 12,175 children age 0-19 die each year from these injuries. In fact, up until the age of 14, accidental injury is the leading cause of death in kids. More than one-third of these injuries occur at home.
While it’s impossible to totally safeguard children against all threat of injury, the truth is that most risks can be significantly reduced by thinking ahead. Most household accidents occur in areas with:
- Potential for falling: balconies, stairs, slippery floors, or tipping furniture.
- Water: bathrooms, kitchens, swimming pools, and hot tubs.
- Heat or fire: fireplaces, stoves, ovens, grills, hair irons, or boiling water.
- Toxic substances: underneath the kitchen sink, medicine cabinets, garage, garden shed, or purse.
- Choking hazards: certain food items, unsafe sleep environment, craft room, toy room, or workshop.
By familiarizing yourself with these five categories – and the factors that could increase risk in your home – you can take the time to childproof your living spaces and protect your toddler and/or young children from danger.
There are plenty of obvious ways to protect infants, toddlers, and small children from harm – such as putting kitchen knives out of reach, placing a gate at the top of stairs, and not turning on the fireplace when babies are crawling nearby – but it’s the less obvious issues that are more likely to come into play.
Having said that, here are some simple tips and tricks to help you childproof your home:
- Mount Your TV on the Wall
Each year, thousands of children are injured or killed as a result of pulling a dresser or tall piece of furniture down on top of them. While you might not think your child has enough strength to do this, all it takes is a little leverage in the wrong direction. In addition to using furniture anchor straps, you should also be conscientious about what’s on top of these pieces. For example, it’s much better to mount a television on a wall than to have it sit on a dresser or entertainment center. It only takes a few simple parts, looks better, and is far safer.
- Install Child-Safe Window Blinds
Believe it or not, window blinds are one of the biggest silent killers in the home. In just a matter of seconds, a toddler or small child can unknowingly become entangled and asphyxiated. In fact, one child in the U.S. dies every two weeks from blind cord strangulation.When purchasing blinds, make sure you look for safe products that feature cord stops positioned at the top of the cord, continuous cord loops, and cord joiners that separate when downward pressure is applied.
- Install Toilet Locks
Most parents know not to leave a toddler around a bathtub filled with water, but did you know that a toilet might pose the same risk? Children are much more top-heavy than adults and can easily lean and fall into a toilet bowl. And considering that it only takes one inch of water for a child to drown, this can be a deadly situation. One practical step you can take to childproof your bathrooms is to install toilet locks that keep lids closed. This prevents a curious child from opening the lid and falling inside. (It’s also healthy from a hygiene perspective. Do you really want your toddler’s hands on the toilet seat or in the bowl?)
- Install Anti-Scalding Devices
A child’s skin is much more sensitive than an adult’s. All it takes is three seconds of exposure to 140-degree water for a child to sustain third-degree burns. The problem is that you might not always know that water is too hot. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure water isn’t too hot for your child. The first is to dial your water heater back to 120 degrees. (This will also save you money!) Another step is to install anti-scalding devices on faucets and showerheads. It’s a fairly simple job that can be done by yourself or a plumber (depending on the type of device).
As parents, we often see ourselves in a place of providing love, encouragement, guidance, and discipline. And while these are all extremely important aspects of parenting, they’re all secondary to our primary responsibilities.
When you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll notice that the base tier contains physiological needs like food, water, warmth, and rest. But do you know what goes in the second tier? It’s safety and security. In other words, before a child can worry about belongingness and love, esteem, and self-actualization, they have to be safe and secure.
As a parent, it’s your job to put the safety of your child first so they can one day enjoy the many exciting aspects that come with life. This starts from a very young age. Childproof your home now so that your child can get a happy and healthy start.