Parents worry endlessly about how to protect their children from stranger abduction and violence, but many overlook one of the biggest threats to their children's safety and well-being — their own home. Experts say that children between the ages of 1 and 4 are more likely to be killed by fire, burns, drowning, choking, poisoning, or falls than by a stranger's violence.
About 2.5 million children are injured or killed each year by dangers right in their own home, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). That's why it's so important to carefully childproof your home.
BABIES - Innocent, naturally inquisitive and into everything, are especially vulnerable to injury from accidents in the home. That's why it's important for concerned parents to try and learn how accidents are most likely to occur and take precautions to minimize the risk of injury to baby. Even so, no matter how careful parents may be, a 100% perfectly safe, accident free home is not possible. For this reason, never leave a baby unattended, even in the most carefully baby proofed environment.
These tips will identify some of the more common hazards in the home. Since every house is different, every hazard can't be pointed out here. Of course, no list could do that. Use common sense and professional advice to identify and resolve hazards that go beyond the scope of this list.
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In the Kitchen
- Poisons or toxic materials should not be under the sink. Place them high
up out of baby's reach
- Install latches on all drawers and cabinets which might contain items that
can harm baby (kitchen, bathrooms, etc.)
- When cooking, all pot handles should be turned inward so baby can not
reach them. Use back burners whenever possible. Hint: To
remind yourself (our your forgetful spouse or baby sitter) to use the back
burners, store the grills for the front burners in a drawer or cabinet.
- Stove knobs that are within baby's reach should be baby proofed. Gas
ranges are particularly dangerous because you may not be aware of baby
turning on the gas slightly.
- Magnets on refrigerators are not a good idea. If they fall to the floor,
they may break or the magnet can fall off and baby will pick it up and
swallow it. Business card type magnets are okay because they can't break or
magnets can't come loose if they fall and they are too big to choke on.
- Wash out cleaning bottles before putting them in the trash... just a drop
of cleaning fluid can cause serious injury to a baby.
In the Bathroom
- Do not take pills or medication in front of children. They mimic what they
see. Never refer to medicine as candy.
- Do not rely on any medicine cabinet locks for protection. The best thing
to do is buy a fishing tackle box or a tool box so that you can put all
medications inside and lock the box.
- Remove all soaps, razors and shampoos from around the edge of the bathtub.
- The bathtub spout can be covered with a spout cover, preventing the child
from burning themselves or slamming their head against it and causing
- For obvious reasons, do not get out of a bathtub while carrying your baby.
- Toilet lids should be locked closed.
- Never leave an infant alone in the tub. Ignore telephone calls and
doorbells. Babies can drown in just an inch or two of water. Also, never
leave a tub with water in it.
- If you use an automatic toilet bowl cleaner, remove it from the tank and
discard it in the outside trash; such products are toxic.
- Make sure bathroom doors can be unlocked from the outside in case your
child locks one from within. If necessary, change the locks.
In the Nursery
- All busy boxes, mirrors, or any type of crib attachment should be
installed on the wall side of the crib... otherwise, the attachment can be
used by baby to climb up and out of the crib.
- Wall hangings should never be put above a crib. If a child were to pull it
down, nails could come loose and fall into the crib.
- Mobiles should be removed when the baby is 5 - 7 months old. Baby can pull
the mobile down, or the little strings from the mobile can be wrapped around
the baby's fingers and cause injury.
- When changing the baby, always use the changing strap and never leave the
baby unattended on the changing table, not even for a few seconds. Don't
underestimate baby's ability to wriggle or roll.
- Don't forget to protect any electrical outlets that may be behind the
crib. Baby can reach through the bars.
Around the House
- Cover electrical outlets to prevent access by baby.
- Install Plexiglas on stair and balcony railings where baby might squeeze
- Keep all trash containers locked up and out of baby's way. Remove plastic
bags used as liners from containers and diaper pails which baby might tear a
piece from and choke on.
- Tall lamps or coat racks can be pulled over onto baby or through windows.
These should be removed or blocked by furniture to prevent baby from getting
- Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to
lessen the chance of accidental burns.
- Separate plants and babies. Some plants are poisonous. Baby can also pull
leaves or stems off and choke on them or pull the whole plant on top of
- Hanging cords from answering machines, phones, lamps and appliances should
be out of baby's reach.
- Do not use tacks or staples to secure electrical cords to walls. They can
fall or be pulled out and swallowed.
- Discard plastic dry cleaner bags before entering the home. Baby can pull
pieces off and choke on them.
- Keep emergency phone numbers, including poison control center, near a
- To prevent carpeting from sliding underneath feet, use foam grid below the
- Tips from doorstops can be pulled off by babies and swallowed. To prevent
that, get a safe replacement door stopper or get some glue, place it inside
the cap and stick the cap back onto the doorstopper.
- Wicker and babies don't mix. Wicker can be picked off and put into their
- If you have exposed brick or stone on your fireplace, purchase a custom
made bumper or place a piece of carpet or foam on the whole base, and that
will prevent your child from banging into the brick.
- Tablecloths hanging over edges of tables can be pulled down and anything
on top will surely fall on baby.
- Remove gas jet key from fireplace and put it out of reach so baby does not
accidentally turn on gas, which, if on, could explode in the home.
- Exercise equipment and babies are not a good idea. They can get their
fingers stuck in the spokes of exercise bikes or put fingers in gears, or
they can pull weights onto themselves. You need to keep the two separate.
- Glass panels in coffee tables can break under the weight of the baby.
Remove the table or replace the glass with Plexiglas.
- Cords to blinds should be lifted high and out of reach of baby or
shortened. Baby can pull cord or accidentally wrap it around their neck or
fingers or wrists.
- If you have any animals in the home, you should separate animals' food
from baby. It's best to feed animals in another room or part of the house so
your baby cannot get at the pet's food.
- If you use disposable baby bottle liners don't forget to tear the plastic
tabs off before feeding baby the bottle. Baby can tear the tabs off, put
them in their mouth and choke on them.
- Dog doors or cat doors should be blocked off so baby does not go through
the door. Baby will follow animals outside.
- Keep dangerous objects away from the edges of tables and countertops where
baby might reach up and grab them.
- And, most important of all,
NEVER LEAVE A BABY UNATTENDED
THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR SUPERVISION.