Baby Proofing: Making Your Home Safe for Children
- Feb. 7, 2013
- Brian Brice
- Home Life
Murphy's Law states that "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." I'm guessing Mr. Murphy had babies. Children are like tiny MacGyvers capable of taking seemingly innocuous household items and creating chaos. Turn your attention away for a moment, even just seconds, and they'll almost certainly find a way to get into something they're not supposed to. Fortunately, there is no shortage of products aimed at thwarting your child's designs for mischief.
Gates and Fences
The easiest way to prevent your child from getting into trouble is to contain them. Baby gates have been a child safety staple for decades. Gates allow doors to remain open, while blocking access to particular areas. Many now feature a latched door that allows adults to pass without having to step over or remove the gate. For paths too large for a gate there are expandable fences. These can unfold to block a wider span and, in some cases, connect end-to-end to create a smaller playpen area.
Cabinet and Drawer Locks
We tend to store things like sharp objects and poisonous materials in drawers and cabinets, so it's important to keep these areas secure. There are a variety of options to consider for either. Simple versions consist of a plastic latch that hooks on to a tab while more complex versions involve hidden-from-sight latches activated by a special magnetic key. Everyone will have their own preference, but generally you want to find something that serves its function and remains aesthetically pleasing.
When you think about it, these should be used whether you have a child or not. I recently spilled a glass of water at home; it splashed against the wall and dripped down, narrowly missing an exposed outlet. That was just chance – I got lucky – but a child has curiosity and aim. That might explain why the market for these offers so many choices. There are simple plastic plugs that fit into any outlet, bubble covers or hinged doors that cover the outlet completely, faceplates with rotating or sliding faces and so on. Some create a greater obstacle than others, but a child generally isn't coordinated enough to manipulate any of these so any choice will do.
Cord Shorteners and Organizers
You might not recognize them as being a threat, but loose cords and blind pulls can be extremely dangerous. Children tugging on electrical cords can do damage to the device they're attached to and potentially bring them toppling onto the child. Even more terrifying might be the threat of strangulation. Keeping cords hidden, short and bound lowers the chances of a traumatic event.
Edge and Corner Guards
If you have furniture with sharp edges or corners, your child will discover them – most likely at the end of a full sprint. You can purchase spools of cushioned tape, many times in fashionable colors, cut to fit most edges and corners. These barriers can mean the difference between a cry with a quick recovery and an unexpected trip to the hospital.
Obviously there are many more child-proofing options beyond this. If there's something even remotely dangerous you can rest assured that someone has created some way to protect children from it. However, these are more or less the essentials – tips to make nearly any home environment safer for kids.
Whether you have children or not, there's a good chance one or several will be in your home at one point or another. While all of these might never come into play, some of them are very likely to. It can't hurt to err on the side of caution.