Babyproofing your home
Want to keep your baby safe and sound, no matter what? Here is a comprehensive guide to making sure your house is baby-proof
MAKE SURE THAT ALL ELECTRIC PLUG POINTS THAT AREN’T IN USE ARE FITTED WITH SAFETY COVERS AND DON’T OVERLOAD ELECTRICAL SOCKETS AS THIS IS A FIRE HAZARD
NO MATTER HOW closely you watch your children – which at the end of the day is the best way to keep them out of harm’s way – there will be times when you don’t have eyes in the back of your head. It’s in these instances that you need your home to be safe. Because while you can’t foresee every accident, there are certainly ones that you can avoid (or at least lessen the severity of) by babyproofing your home and by knowing what to do and who to call should something happen.
While the kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s also the heart of where terrible accidents can happen. Make no mistake about it: hot stoves, hot food, electrical appliances, detergents and sharp knives all pose a serious threat to your child. So what can you do about these things? ● Place knives out of reach and install child safety latches on all cupboards with dangerous objects (even high ones, children love ladders). Never keep any other dangerous utensils such as scissors or graters in bottom drawers either. ● Never, ever put detergents, pesticides or any cleaning agents under the sink. Place them high up in a cupboard and again, install child safety latches on all cupboards with dangerous poisons. ● Even once your child is two, leave these latches on as they define limits. Preferably lock these poisons away. ● Always place pots on the back plates of the stove, with the handles facing inwards, so that your child can’t grab the pot and pull its contents onto himself. ● High chairs and stools should be far away from the stove. Babies should never be left unsupervised in high chairs either or placed in car seats or Bumbos on raised kitchen counters, even if you’re watching them. ● Never leave glassware, knives, or hot food and beverages unattended on counters or tables, not even for a few moments. Don’t use placemats or tablecloths during mealtimes, because a child can pull them – and their contents – down onto himself. ● Move the toaster, kettle, and all other electrical appliances out of your child’s reach. Tuck the cords away. ● Put a lid on your dustbin and keep recyclable objects such as sharp cans and glass bottles out of reach. ● Pack plastic bags away. These pose a suffocation risk.
THE BATHROOM Like the kitchen, the bathroom can be full of nasty surprises. A young child can drown in just 5cm of water and get burnt in seconds, so toilets and bathtubs are major hazards. It is, however, a room that can be closed off – so do this when you can, and in addition:
● Never leave small children unattended in a bathroom or a bath. Ever. Not to answer the phone or see who’s at the door – rather take your baby with you to do this.
● Always place cold water in the bath first and test it before putting baby in.
● Never put an older child in charge of a younger child in a bath.
● Always empty the bath immediately after using it.
● Razor blades (toddlers love to mimic), scissors, and medicines should be kept out of reach and locked away, preferably in childproof containers.
● Cover nappy buckets with a secure lid.
● Turn the maximum temperature of your geyser down to a medium heat.
● Make sure that your shower door is made of safety glass.
● Take the key out of the bathroom door Children notoriously manage to lock themselves in.
● Never use electrical equipment in the bathroom.
THE LOUNGE While the kitchen and stairs might be where the most dangerous accidents happen, the lounge is where the most reported accidents (though less fatal ones) occur. This is why you have to:
● Sand down sharp corners. Your furniture won’t look pretty, but it’s a lot prettier than getting your child stitched up in the emergency room or under general anaesthetic.
● Don’t polish wooden floors. It makes them more slippery.
● Never let your children run in the lounge or run/walk in socks.
● Secure loose rugs and carpets. Secure bookshelves to the wall as children can pull these onto themselves.
● Tie away the loops of blind cords. These can cause strangulation.
● Make sure that all electric plug points that aren’t in use are fitted with safety covers and don’t overload electrical sockets as this is a fire hazard.
● Don’t place extension cords under carpets that serve as a walkway.
● Don’t leave knitting needles or other dangerous craft objects lying around.
● If you have older children and toddlers, never leave marbles, Lego or other small toys lying around. These are serious choking hazards. Sharp pencil crayons should be packed away too to avoid eye-poking.
● Always pick up toys and other objects from stairs. Try to tidy up toys in passages to avoid tripping and falling.
● Make sure that there are stickers on glass doors at your toddler’s eye level.
● Lock away all alcohol.
● Never leave matches or lighters lying around and always place fireguards in front of the fireplace if you have one.
● Don’t let your kids climb on the furniture – it’s a long way to fall.
● If you live on a first floor and don’t have burglar bars, install locks that will stop the windows from opening too wide.
● Settle down with a nice cup of hot tea, but never drink it while breastfeeding or when little kids are around. Don’t put hot drinks on coffee tables.
IN THE GARDEN
● Cover fish ponds and water features. Always empty paddle pools after use.
● Ideally, garage doors should have a safety mechanism that stops them from accidentally coming off the hinges and falling onto your child.
● Ladders should always be securely stored away so your children can’t get onto the roof.
● Never leave dangerous tools like garden shears or hammers lying around – lock them away. Lock turpentine, paint, and pool chemicals away too.
● Keep your car doors locked in the garage or driveway. Never, ever leave a baby sleeping in a car.
● Never reverse in your driveway or close an electronic door or gate without keeping an eye on your children. Tragically, parents have reversed over their own children in driveways.
● Make sure that your children can’t get onto the road at all.
● Never leave children unattended near a braai or Weber.
● Watch out for electric fencing. Don’t let your kids climb near it! YB