Home Safety Tips with Little Ones

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There are a number of home safety tips you need to implement when you have little ones in the house or will have them visiting.

So, if you’ve just bought a new home — or are looking for a new home — this article can help you figure out which changes you might need to make to create a safe and secure environment for young children. This involves implementing a range of safety rules in the home to prevent accidents and minimize potential hazards.

Home safety tips: baby proofing

Babyproofing is crucial in safeguarding your home for young kids and toddlers. It involves modifying and decluttering your living space to remove or minimize potential dangers.

Below, I’ve outlined some of the essentials for baby proofing a home. Also, to make your shopping easier, I’ve linked to these products on Amazon.

  • Secure cabinets and drawers: Use childproof cabinet locks and childproof drawer locks so little hands can’t get to anything dangerous. Also, ensure cleaning products, medications and other potentially poisonous substances are stored securely to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Electrical safety: Cover electrical outlets with safety plugs or outlet covers.
  • Furniture stability: Secure heavy furniture, such as bookshelves, dressers and TVs, to the wall to prevent tipping accidents. You’ll want to look for furniture wall anchors to get the job done. Also, ensure that heavy items are placed on lower shelves to avoid instability.
  • Stair safety: Install gates at the top and bottom of staircases.
  • Door safety: Use door locks or knob covers to restrict access to hazardous rooms.
  • Corded window covering safety: Consider replacing corded windows with cordless alternatives, such as cordless blinds or shades, to eliminate the risk of entanglement. If corded coverings are necessary, use cord safety devices to keep cords securely out of reach.
  • Balcony and deck safety: Keep furniture away from railings to discourage climbing. Ensure that sturdy railings are in place and regularly maintained and promptly address any issues.

“Once our toddler became mobile, the first thing we did was anchor all heavy furniture and appliances, like bookshelves and TV, to the wall to prevent them from tipping over,” says Tamara of Thriving In Parenting. “It proved to be one of the most important safety measures as before we knew it, she started to climb up the furniture to reach the higher shelves.”

Choking hazards

Young children are naturally inclined to put objects in their mouths, making choking hazards a significant concern.

Cut food into small, manageable pieces, especially round or cylindrical items like grapes, hot dogs or the sausages included in this sausage sheet pan dinner recipe. Avoid serving hard candies or other small, hard foods that can pose a choking risk.

“When our children were toddlers, I was especially concerned with choking hazards, as we live in a very remote location without any emergency services access,” says Sarita Harbour of Thrive at Home. “I always slice grapes and sausages lengthwise before serving them to kids ages three and under. Unsliced grapes and sausages are common choking hazards in little kids because they’re just the right size to plug a small child’s throat.”

When registering for baby gifts or selecting toys on your own, opt for age-appropriate ones and avoid those with small parts that can be swallowed. Regularly inspect toys for any damage or loose parts.

Keep small items, such as coins, buttons or jewelry, out of reach, and be vigilant about picking up small objects from the floor to prevent accidental ingestion.

Water safety tips at home

Open water sources, such as swimming pools, bathtubs, buckets or even toilet bowls, can be hazardous for young children. Implementing appropriate water safety measures is crucial.

  • Pool safety: Install a four-sided fence around swimming pools with a self-latching gate. Consider pool alarms for an extra layer of security. However, the best pool alarm is a responsible adult. Therefore, never leave children unattended near a pool, even for a moment.
  • Bathtub safety: Never leave young children alone in the bathtub, even with just an inch of water. Always supervise them closely and remove all bath accessories, such as buckets or toys, after use. Seattle Children’s Hospital warns that children can drown in as little as two inches of water.
  • Water container safety: Empty buckets, basins or other water containers immediately after use to prevent accidental drowning.
  • Toilet safety: Lock toilet bowls with a child lock to prevent young children from accessing them and potentially falling in.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and near sleeping areas. Smoke detectors can provide early warnings in the event of a fire, allowing families to take prompt action.

Ideally, you’ve installed hard-wired smoke detectors with a battery backup. Many municipalities require the kinds that also sync. So, that if an alarm goes off in one part of the house, all of the smoke detectors sound the alarm.

Similarly, install carbon monoxide detectors near fuel-burning appliances or sources, as carbon monoxide is a silent — and odorless — but deadly gas. Also, if you have a gas fireplace or stove, your town may require an additional safety mechanism — the explosive gas alarm, which we had to have installed this year for our gas fireplace. We were able to buy a combination CO2 and explosive gas alarm that plugs into the wall.

Fire safety tips at home

Keep fire extinguishers readily accessible in key areas of the home, such as the kitchen and near potential fire hazards. Choose extinguishers suitable for common household fires and ensure everyone in the family knows how to use them correctly.

However, if it’s been more than 10 years since you bought and used a portable, household fire extinguisher, you should probably replace it. This fire-fighting tool becomes less reliable after a decade or if you see any degradation of the product.

First Alert outlines some things to look for to know it’s time to get a new fire extinguisher.

  • The hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped, or blocked with debris. 
  • The metal locking pin on the handle is missing or if the safety seal is missing/not intact/
  • The handle is wobbly or broken.

If your home has multiple stories, consider investing in fire escape ladders that can be attached to windows or balconies. These ladders provide a safe means of escape during emergencies.

Educate children about the “stop, drop and roll” technique, which can help extinguish flames on clothing if they catch fire. It’s also important to practice fire drills regularly so children know how to react in a fire emergency.

Window safety with children

Take precautions to prevent falls from windows. It’s also important to keep furniture away from windows to discourage climbing.

Consider installing one of the below options to restrict the opening size and keep children from accidentally falling out of windows in your home or apartment:

Home firearm safety

If firearms are present in the home, it is crucial to prioritize firearm safety to prevent accidents. Store firearms unloaded and locked in a secure location, separate from ammunition. Also, always utilize gun locks or safes to prevent access by children.

Medication safety

Store medications securely and out of the reach of children. Use childproof caps whenever possible to provide an extra layer of protection.

Additionally, avoid taking medication in front of young children. Since they tend to imitate adult behaviors, they may be tempted to consume medication themselves.

Safe cooking practices

The kitchen can be a potentially hazardous area for young children as this article on safety tips in the kitchen explains. To ensure their safety while cooking family recipes like this creamy Tuscan chicken or this creamy Dijon chicken, keep hot items such as pots and pans out of their reach.

Utilize stove guards or shields to prevent accidental contact with burners. Always turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge to minimize the risk of spills and burns.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a new home appliance, such as a stove, get one with knobs towards the back and not on the front of the stove. That’s the kind of stove design we chose for one of our homes when our children were young.

Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Button batteries

Button batteries can pose a significant risk to young children if accidentally ingested. It’s crucial to take preventive measures to avoid such incidents.

  • Prevention: Keep button batteries out of reach by storing them securely. Be cautious when changing batteries in toys, watches, security systems or other devices, ensuring small children are not present. Consider removing all non-essential items with button batteries from the home.
  • Security: Ensure that battery compartments in electronic devices are properly secured.
  • Disposal: Discard used batteries immediately and safely.

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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