To set the scene, in this article we are going to talk about those general hazards that are present in everyday household, what measures to take to prevent them, what to do if they happen, and all-encompassing view on how to babyproof your home (both by the book and by the original ideas of other parents).
10 Common Hazards around your home
For a prosperous family, safe and a full proof home is not a luxury but a requirement.
A safe home offers a chance for the family to grow and prosper.
Albeit there is a number of serious hazards, if addressed properly, they can be neutralized.
Here’s a list of top 10 home hazards for the average home:
Injuries due to falling are the most common hazard. Wet floors and slippery stairs are the reason one fifth of all adults have ever experienced a broken bone or head injury.
The ways to deal with the situation and to minimize the risks are the following:
–Stabilize the staircases
Ensure that all staircases in the house have quality handrails, securely affixed flooring, are properly lighted and if there are children in the house, safety gates.
–Clear outdoor steps
All outdoor stairs should be clear of hazards like ice/snow, as well as debris which might cause a problem.
If your child is an infant, make sure that he keeps all his toys in one place and doesn’t scatter them around the house, causing someone to slip and fall.
If your child is a bit bigger, the use of safety equipment while he/she’s biking or skating is a must.
Install safety rails or balance assist bars which are going to have a purpose to serve the elderly members of the house to be able to bathe and also move throughout with greater ease and less chance of injury.
Statistics say that in 2015 in the USA there were more than 350,000 home fires, ranging from mild smoke to total household devastation and loss of life.
Even simple things like an unattended candle can cause immense damage.
The good thing is that you can do a lot to help prevent from this type of hazard from ever happening in your home.
-Install fire alarms
Installing fire alarms on all flats on your house is advisable. You will need to check their batteries and maintain them regularly. You could consider investing in a smart smoke detector that works via Wi-Fi and can send messages to your phone if there’s a fire going on.
Candles should never be left unattended or near flammable cloth. They should be out of the reach of children at all times.
The best way to avoid an electrical fire is to make sure that all appliances are working properly and no wires are frayed. It’s a smart habit to get used to unplugging appliances when not in use.
-Purchase a fire extinguisher
Have at least one multipurpose fire extinguisher in your home, near your kitchen or fireplace and check it regularly to see if it’s in working order.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Low duration and intensity exposure to CO causes headaches and dizziness while prolonged and more intensive exposure causes severe effects from vomiting to even death. It’s impossible to detect it with any of our empirical senses, so different measures need to be taken to avoid a CO disaster.
-Install a CO detector
A CO detector is an electrical appliance (or an instrument, if you’d prefer that term) that measures CO levels in your home and alerts you if the poisoning level gets too high. Maintain it on a regular basis to ensure that it’s working properly.
-Keep up home maintenance
Have all your appliances that produce CO checked by a professional on a regular basis, at least two times a year.
Statistics say that in 2015, more than 5,000 people died due to choking in the US alone.
From either a wrong bite as an adult to swallowing a toy as a child, choking is scary.
Proper measures need to be taken to prevent this hazard from ever happening in your home.
Your child’s toys need to be inspected on a regular basis for safety reasons such as checking if there are any loose parts which your child might swallow.
-Keep dangers out of reach
Make sure to keep hard candy and nuts away from the reach of children. Be extra careful at an adult social gathering where you’ll be bringing your child where the children can sneak more easily and do something potentially dangerous.
-Cut up food
For children of the age of five or less, always cut up food into smaller pieces (especially foods that have a higher chance of blocking breathing airways.
Today’s households contain many items that have sharp edges that can provide this type of injury. This includes everything, from an edge of a table to an open food can.
-Close the trash
Use a lock pick on the garbage can or use one which has a built-in lock pick mechanism to keep children and pets as well from dabbling with the sharp objects in the trash like cans.
-Store kitchen supplies
All kitchen accessories should be properly stored or even locked up, so the toddler doesn’t accidentally get a knife cut.
-Lock the bathroom
Bathrooms contain hazards like razors or other grooming tools that need to be stored properly to be kept out of the range of children. Child safety locks, installed easily are also an option.
-Point knives and forks down
Keep all sharp kitchen accessories pointed down in the tool basket, and for extra protection try to place the basket itself as far as possible, so the toddler is unable to reach them.
Statistics say that there were over two million poisoning incidents reported throughout the USA in 2015. Many household supplies such as cleaning and maintenance supplies are a hazard, but with a little bit of work and attention, these dangers can be avoided.
-Store medication properly
Prescription medications need to be kept out of the open and in the medicine cabinet, away from children and teenagers. All medication that’s outdated or not used anymore should be thrown away. Using a locker on your medicine cabinet is also a worthwhile investment.
-Keep paint out of reach
Paint needs to be kept away from children as it is harmful in its base nature. It’s also smart to never use paint from a container from which the paint didn’t come from as your children might mistake it and drink from it, leading to dire consequences.
-Make sure chemicals are secure
Household cleaning products and supplies need to be kept safe and away from children and pets. Locking them up in a cabinet is also a smart move to make. Pesticides and such should be kept in a lock box or the garage/shed.
-Put away personal products
Keep makeup, hair products, soaps and all and every other personal hygiene products away from the reach of children and pets. Keep them in drawers, so the children don’t accidentally stumble upon them, and the pets can’t reach them.
-Lock up detergents
As previously mentioned for all household cleaning products, keep detergents locked up or at least away from the reach of children and pets.
If you use detergent pods, make sure your children don’t mistake them for candy.
Regular check-ups of appliances which use detergent as the dishwasher or the washing machine should be applied after every session of use to check for leftovers of the product which might cause problems to your infant.
Dispose of it properly.
Cords on window dressing such as blinds and curtains are a common form of a strangling hazard to infants. Here are the precautionary measures that you can take to minimize the chance of a disaster.
-Put cords away
Windows with dressings and electrical cords should be kept away from the reach of the infants. Beds should never be placed under a window.
-Trim or remove window cords
Trim the cords to the length accessible only to adults, so you avoid having the infant entangle itself. If you’re looking to invest, get windows designed without cords.
-Wrap them up
If buying designed windows without cords is not an option for you, you can make your home safer by installing cord wraps to your present window covering.
Drowning is a hazard possible not only in the summer in an outdoor bath, but when bathing inside the house as well. Statistic says that 70% of all drowning in the past decade happened within the house of the victim. It is only reasonable to take action to prevent that from happening.
-Put away buckets
Buckets are a commonly used item for cleaning and should be kept empty and away from water sources.
–Attend to bathing children
It only takes a few inches of overfilling the tub for a small child to drown, so never let them bathe alone. Also, always keep the toilet lid closed when the child is using the tub.
Unlike CO, gas can be smelled when it’s leaking, so that makes the job easier.
Have all gas using appliances installed by a professional and have them checked out on a regular basis.
Install a gas detector in your house to notify you early on before the problem escalates.
If by any chance a gas leak happens besides all the precaution measures, have a house escape plan.
Do NOT! overlook the importance of this. This is a silent Killer.
Although burns are not the most common or the most dangerous household hazard, there is, they are a one especially in the form of heated dishwashers and stoves. There are measures you can take to prevent from having incidents happening.
–Latch the dishwasher
Make sure that your dishwasher is securely latched at all times so curious fingers can’t access it. The end of the cycle of its work is the most dangerous as that’s the time when burns from steam are most likely to occur.
-Use back burners
Most burns happen either in the house or the workplace. Children and women suffer from burns mostly at the kitchen. To prevent kitchen burns, use back burners when possible to prevent the kids accidentally touching the hot stove top.
-Add stove knob covers
Stoves (gas ones in particular) are the perfect place for a fire incident to happen.
You can protect your home by adding stove knob covers.
They will keep small hands from turning on burners or adults unintentionally knocking the burners “on.”
Baby proofing Basics
Baby proofing your home should be done as early as in the age of infancy of your child. Children learn to walk (or at least crawl) by themselves within a few days from their initial attempt, and you might get caught off guard.
The trick to a successful baby proofing strategy is to understand that the baby does not view the world the same way you do – it perceives it on a much more floor-level of perception. Here we will discuss the basics of the baby proofing process.
The infant should never be left unattended while bathing as drowning is a real possibility. The temperature of the water should be mild to hot (around 120F), and the baby should be placed in the tub bottom down and never head first as their heads are vulnerable to heat.
Babies by nature are curious and will get their hands on everything (ESPECIALLY the things they are not supposed to be touching). Cabinets should be off limits, and all potentially poisonous substances and sharp objects should be locked inside.
As soon as your baby starts attempting to pull himself out of the crib, you should move the mattress of the crib to the lowest position. You should also remove all objects and toys in and around the crib. Including anything in eyesight that may tempt them to climb out to retrieve. Have a look at our Halo Bassinest Review for 2018.
–Drapery and blind cords
These hazards should be tied up at an adult level, so the baby doesn’t get entangled in them, resulting in a hazardous situation.
Drawers should be closed at all times so they can’t both be opened nor used as a tool by the baby to pull him or herself up.
Babies have a tendency to chew and pull cords which might result in him or her pulling the lamb down on her or even an electric shock. Keep them away from their reach.
Babies can get shocked by putting their wet fingers (mostly saliva) into plug outlets. Unless the outlets are behind unmovable furniture or too high up for them to reach, then you close them with safety plugs or covers.
If you have a social gathering where alcohol and tobacco will be present after the gathering is done clean up everything, so the child doesn’t ingest either ash, nicotine or alcohol by accident.
All unstable wall units such as dressers, bookcases or tables can topple over when the baby is trying to climb on them or just using them to pull up. Fix anything that seems loose.
Garbage cans not only contain toxins from leftover food, but sharp opened and used cans or chicken bones. Keep them out of their reach and if possible, use a locking mechanism.
Some of your houseplants can be poisonous, so you’ll need to move them to a secure location that’s going to be unreachable by the infant. Having them on the table or the floor is simply not a good idea.
Keep pet food away from the baby, so it doesn’t mistake it for a snack. Pet litter boxes should be put in places inaccessible for the infant, and moreover, aquariums should be placed in a safe and sturdy position so as so they don’t topple over.
The infant’s highchair should never be placed in proximity to kitchen appliances or tools. In the bathroom, all electrical accessories such as hair dryers, electric razors, and curling irons should also be out of reach and when not in use, should be unplugged as they can shock the infant if he somehow manages to get to them even when turned off if still plugged in.
Infants have low motor muscle control, especially when just learning to walk. The edges of tables, drawers and such can cause them harm if they bump into them. Be sure to coat the edges with cushioned strips or other forms of hard-contact protection method.
When cooking, place the pots and pans on the back burners as when cooking the contents of the pots and pans can spray out if placed on the front burners and harm the child. The child can even bump into them or pull them and have the hot contents spill onto him/her and cause him harm.
Babies have a tendency to pull tablecloths which may result into broken dishes, glasses, and knives. Broken sharp debris can cause harm to the child. Use mats instead of tablecloths for protection.
Children get really curious around toilets, and it has been reported that using the toilet to pull up they can fall head on into it. Use toilet locks to prevent this hazard.
Children will eventually try to climb furniture, and after seeing you open the window once or twice, they will attempt it as well. This might lead to an injury. For that reason, installing safe windows or window guard is advised. Moving away from the furniture close to the windows which the child uses to climb to get to the windows is also advised.
Taking into consideration all we’ve talked about, there’s no 100% full-proof method of baby proofing your house. Besides taking these measures, you will also need to constantly be aware of how your child behaves and teach him what’s dangerous to him if it starts doing any harmful activities.
However, this does not mean you should be in a constant state of paranoia about the safety of your child. Just put these safety measures in practice, be alert and aware of the state of the behavior of your child but take the time to relax and let him play his little game as that’s the only way they can learn about this “new world” of theirs.
Baby proofing checklist
On a rough estimate, babies start to crawl at the age of 8 months (but it may come sooner). With the crawling comes the ability to pull up and suddenly, hazards appear which may cause him harm.
Here’s a checklist summary on what to keep track on as a parent:
Child Mobility & Exploration
Chemicals & Medications
Toilet & Bathroom
Toy Safety & Choking Hazards
When bathing, the water in the tub should be as high as his legs.
Warm to hot water should be used and never left alone to bathe, even for a minute.
Nonslip mats should be put next to the bathtub, so the infant doesn’t slip and injure itself when coming out.
When regarding food precautions, carrying hot food or beverage and your child at the same time is ill advised. The same hot food and beverages should be kept away from the edges of the table. When cooking, don’t hold your infant in your other hand. After done, secure the oven with an appliance latch.
While in the car, the child should be put in a rear-facing fashion towards the car seat until it reaches the maximum height and weight for the seat. Until then, proper installation of car seats for the rear facing position is advised.
When changing table, the safety straps are advised while keeping an eye on the child.
The contents of the table should be out of the reach of the child but within yours.
When it comes to cribs, crib bumpers, drop-side cribs or soft, fluffy bedding such as pillows and comforters are ill-advised as they can interfere with the quality of the sleep of the baby.
If he pulls up, the matters should be lowered to its lowest level.
Toys should be put away when the infant is sleeping or is pulling up to reduce the chance of injury.
When it comes to doors, using door stops and door holders is advised to protect the infant’s fingers.
Electrical appliances should be unplugged when not used; electrical cords should be hidden behind furniture or with a cord hiding device. The electrical outlets should be either hidden with furniture, out of reach or covered with safety plugs so the infant can’t access them.
When it comes to baby proofing the fireplace, the same principle repeats: keep keys to activation away from reach, keep fuel away from reach and when the fireplace is active keep an eye on the infant, so it doesn’t get too close or even touch the heated fireplace.
Gas and CO detectors should be installed by professionals, maintained at least twice a year by the same and check the batteries on a regular basis. Have an escape plan in the event of a fire hazard.
Child Mobility & Exploration
Until a certain age, your child’s activities should be restricted for his protection.
Knives, breakables, heavy pots and other dangerous items should be locked and away from reach. Access to these areas should be controlled with safety gates, door locks or knob covers.
Cabinets and drawers with sensitive content should also be locked.
Access to the trash, radiators and flood heaters should be limited.
The refrigerator should also be locked with an appliance latch.
CD and DVD buttons should be restricted with a plastic cover.
An important thing to mention is to make your job easier; you can allow your child access to some drawers or cupboards which are by intention going to be filled with items safe to handle by the infant.
When it comes to furniture, corner and edge guards should be applied. Furniture such as bookcases, chest of drawers which can topple should be secured. If you have a flat screen TV anchor it with safety straps or mount it on the wall, so it doesn’t fall on your baby if he does manage to dabble with it.
Chemicals & Medications
When worried about sanitation poisoning, all of the cleaning agents, medicines, vitamins, dishwasher pods and every other potentially toxic item should be locked away and out of reach.
Baby’s skin is sensitive, so avoid prolonged exposure of your infant to the sun.
When the infant is outside, protect it with hats, light-colored clothing, preferably with long sleeves, so you cover more percentage of the body and use sunscreen. Make sure to understand the difference between your child burning up as a result of sun exposure versus a high internal body temperature( see our fever in toddler when to worry guide).
When worried about issues with the toilet in the bathroom, a seat lock will solve your problem.
Toy Safety & Choking Hazards
All of your baby’s toys should be at one place and in good condition. Make sure there are no loose parts on which the infant can choke on. Make sure that the toys are not too heavy, that they are appropriate for his age and physical skill and if made of cloth, that they are sanitized correctly.
This pretty much sums it up, and it might seem like common sense, but when you take into consideration how many things there are in retrospect on which you need to keep an eye on, having this list to help you remind yourself of the precaution measures can be useful.
With enough practice, eventually it’ll become somewhat of a “second nature” to you, but for starters, regular checkups on the list are going to be if not required, at least highly useful.
Baby proofing ideas
Now that we’ve put the standard procedures and measures to undertake to baby-proof your home, we are going to take a look at some innovative ideas with the same goal.
But first here’s an interesting short video
When about to bathe the baby, always check the temperature of the water
Keep a non-slip mat under the tub so when the baby comes out, it doesn’t slip, as most of the time it will be giggling and running around you wet and its birthday suit.
If you don’t have an out of reach cabinet for medication, invest in a medicine cabinet.
When dying or drying your hair keep an eye on the infant, so he doesn’t get too close and burn itself.
Cover the tub spouts to protect his head in the case the infant slips and falls.
Keep the baby crib as clean and as neatly organized as possible.
Invest in any form of child monitoring mechanism such as a sound system that will alarm you if he’s crying.
-When purchasing toys, inspect them for parts that can detach and cause damage.
Install a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, but in a way, that’s out of the reach of your child.
Cleaning products are usually placed in cabinets under the sink and places alike, but with a baby around that’s not acceptable. Either move them or invest in a lock.
Furniture, window ledges and even the TV have sharp edges that can cause harm to your child. Invest into cushion bumpers to reduce impact intensity.
Research has found that having books (even cartoonish, childish ones) close to the infant from an early age can help develop his interest for reading.
Stairs should be adjusted to the safety needs of the baby with a baby gate.
The fireplace should be protected with a guard door.
And last but not least, we are going to mention magnetic baby proof locks.
Magnetic baby proof locks are a locking device that uses pins in combination with magnets to restrict entry by either non-matching keys or magnetic polarity. They are highly efficient and very safe to use. Magnetic locks encompass knob locks, cylinder locks, lever locks, deadbolt locks as well as many other security devices. They are perfectly applicable in a household situation.
In this article, we talked about the potential hazards around every household, how to baby proof your house, both by the book and with original ideas (we even included a baby proofing checklist!)
I hope you found it helpful and if the information I provided is used properly that you will have an easier time providing the correct care taking for your child. Another good reading resource is the baby products association website, well worth a look too.