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Child-Safety Tips

Room-By-Room Safety

Each room in the house has its own safety risks. Here, we go room-by-room to help you make your home safer for youngsters.

The Kitchen

  • Install childproof latches on all drawers, closets, and cabinets containing poisonous materials and dangerous items.

  • Unplug all small electrical appliances when they are not in use; when they are in use, be sure that the cords are not dangling down where your child can reach them.

  • When using the stove, remember to keep all pot and pan handles turned toward the back of the stove; be careful when handling hot liquids that could spill or splatter; and repeatedly remind your child to stay far away when someone is cooking.

  • When serving or consuming hot foods or beverages, be sure to set them down on the middle of the table -- not near the edge where a child could pull them off. Do not use tablecloths that hang over the table and can easily be yanked off.

  • Fold and put away all step stools.

  • Keep knives, forks, graters, and other utensils out of reach of infants and toddlers.
  • Do not leave jewelry where children could find it and possibly choke if they put it into their mouths.

  • Perfumes, deodorants, makeup, and other such substances can lead to accidental poisonings.

  • Belts, ties, shoelaces, and especially plastic bags can cause strangulation and suffocation. Keep them out of the reach of infants and children.

  • Never place pillows in an infant's crib, and keep the crib away from the cords of window shades, blinds, or drapes.
  • Even if you could manage to secure all the medicines, soaps, shampoos, nail clippers, hair dryers, scissors, and tweezers, the basic materials and equipment that constitute the bathroom would still represent an unacceptable level of danger to infants and toddlers. There simply are too many slippery surfaces, hard tiles, hot water faucets, and water receptacles. Supervise children in the bathroom.

  • To prevent children from accidentally locking themselves in the bathroom, make sure the door has no fastening -- like an inside bolt -- that cannot be opened from the outside. You may also remove the lock and instruct everyone in the family to knock when the door is closed.

  • Face your child toward the hot-water faucet in the bathtub to prevent accidentally bumping into the hot metal.

    In the tub, make sure your small child is facing the faucet, to prevent accidental contact .

    In the tub, children should be faced toward the faucet.

  • If your small child can't distinguish or remember to stay away from the hot-water tap, make it easier by marking it with red tape.

  • Keep electrical appliances, such as shavers, hair dryers, and toothbrushes, away from small children. Teach older children the danger of using such appliances near water or with wet hands.
Living Areas
  • Sofas, coffee tables, desks, and end tables usually have hard edges with sharp corners that pose a hazard to a crawling and climbing baby. Consider placing soft bumpers and round edge protectors on these trouble spots.

  • Remove all unstable furniture (furniture that can be easily pulled or pushed over) to an area that is inaccessible to your child. Also, watch out for rocking chairs and recliners, where a child's fingers or toes can get crushed or caught.

  • Placing a safety gate at the top of every staircase is highly recommended. Placing the lower gate at the third step up from the bottom will give your baby two or three steps on which to practice climbing stairs without risk of serious injury.

    Place safety gates at the top and bottom of stairways, to keep little children off.

    Place safety gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

  • If you have a piano in your home, guard against a toddler accidentally dropping the lid on his or her fingers by fastening an upright cork at each end of the keyboard.

  • Make it easy for small children to go up and down your stairs. Add a temporary handrail at child-height on the wall opposite the permanent handrail. Keep stairways well lit and clear of toys, clothes, and debris.

  • Whenever a fire is burning, secure a screen or lock it in place to keep sparks from flying out; use only seasoned wood. A mesh screen is preferable to a glass screen because it won't get as hot.

  • Store pokers, other instruments that are heavy and have sharp points, matches, lighters, and starter fluid out of the reach of infants and young children.

  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home.
Now let's consider safety concerns when the child is at home with a babysitter -- or when you're away from home with your child. They're covered in the next section.