Maybe you have a baby on the way… or maybe your baby is already on its way to the kitchen, toddling on unstable feet. Either way, it’s time to make sure your home is safe for grasping hands and sudden falls.
Knowing where to start can be tricky, especially because every room of your house needs attention. Whether you’re living in the Chicago mansion from Home Alone or a tiny Milwaukee apartment, there are only so many modifications you can make to secure your home. Let’s walk through a few of the areas that require the most childproofing, and some simple, cheap tricks for making your home safe.
You don’t need to worry about all of your furniture — your couch, for example, is not likely to tip over and pose a threat to your child. On the other hand, bookcases, dressers, TV stands, and other shelving are a significant risk. According to the U.S Consumer Product and Safety Commission, a falling TV, appliance, or piece of furniture is responsible for a child’s death every two weeks, and bedrooms are the most common location.
Dresser drawers can look a lot like stairs to curious kids, and even so much as tugging on a lower drawer can destabilize a top-heavy dresser. Err on the side of caution and use furniture straps or L brackets to anchor all of your dressers and shelves to the wall.
Much like their stands, TVs themselves are also easy to tip over. Although they’re lighter than wooden shelving, they can still cause quite a bit of damage. Together, furniture and TVs account for 70% of child fatalities due to falling objects in the home.
A set of TV straps, which aren’t noticeable from the front, can anchor your TV to the already secured TV stand, or you can mount it on the wall for a foolproof way to remove temptation.
Easy to overlook — or just stuff behind the entertainment center and hope they’re ignored — cords are a strangulation and pulling hazard for kids. Using twist-ties to hold groups of cords together makes them less accessible to tiny hands, and using a cable management sleeve will make them nearly impossible to meddle with — and you’ll finally be free of that tangle behind your TV.
Where there are cords, there are outlets. Luckily, there are nearly innumerable ways to handle them. Many outlets can be covered by thoughtfully rearranging heavy furniture. If they can’t be blocked that way, empty outlets can be covered with plastic plugs or even just a piece of duct tape — though renters should probably stick with the plastic covers to avoid causing property damage.
Outlets in use can be even more tempting to prying fingers. For those, you can install plastic guards that snap around the plug, which can cover a single outlet or an entire power strip.
Your stove can do more than burn unexpecting fingers — it can burn your kitchen. To make sure grasping hands don’t accidentally turn on a burner or the oven, pop off the burner knobs and keep them in a nearby drawer until you need them. Get an appliance lock to keep the oven shut, even if it’s not on — and while you’re at it, get another appliance lock for your refrigerator door. It might not seem like it, but refrigerators are pretty easy to tip over by tugging on an open door.
Additionally, see our parent-recommended baby proofing supplies to help make your home safer.
Drawers and Cabinets
On top of all of the knives, silverware, and other sharp or small objects inside of them, the drawers themselves can be just as dangerous if pulled out too far. Always secure all of your drawers, regardless of their contents, with childproof locks.
Cabinets should also be tightly secured, but if you’re on a budget, that can be easily accomplished by putting elastic ties around the handles. Purchased locks, however, would likely keep them more secure and leave less wiggle room for pinched fingers.
These cabinet locks alone aren’t a guarantee for keeping your medicine and toxic cleaners safe, so always double-up protection on these dangerous substances by using a sealable plastic container and keeping them out of reach.
A baby gate is a must if you have stairs in the home, and you’ll find it’s also helpful to limit where your mobile toddler can go — which means you can have a little more peace of mind while working on projects around the home.
Everyone deserves a safe home, and it doesn’t have to take weeks or months to make your house or apartment habitable for a toddler. Following this guide is no replacement for keeping a watchful eye over your darling child, but it will give you a head start.