Childproofing your home for toddlers & preschoolers

Is your home really childproof? Have you minimised the potential risks or dangers which might cause your toddler or preschooler any harm? By taking a few precautions and being prepared you could prevent your kids from being seriously harmed or even save their life. Childproofing your home can help reduce the risk of burns, drowning, choking, poisoning or falls amongst other things that might occur.
Is your home really childproof?

Have you minimised the potential risks or dangers which might cause your toddler or preschooler any harm?

By taking a few precautions and being prepared you could prevent your kids from being seriously harmed or even save their life.

Childproofing your home can help reduce the risk of burns, drowning, choking, poisoning or falls amongst other things that might occur.

Tips on childproofing your home for toddlers & preschoolers

These tips are a guideline to childproofing your home. Please bear in mind that each home is different, so use your own judgement when it comes to your kids and deciding which risks need to be reduced at your place.

Above all else, supervise your children as much as practicable to prevent an incident occurring.

General tips on childproofing your home

  • Take a course in infant first aid and resuscitation.
  • Keep a well-stocked first aid kit handy.
  • Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Test the smoke alarm batteries each month and check their expiry dates.
  • Have fire extinguishers placed strategically around your home.
  • Have an exit plan for your household in the case of an emergency with at least two exit points.
  • Store emergency services phone numbers such as the poisons hotline into your phone.
  • Make sure heavy furniture or loose items such as vases are well secured and can’t tumble on top of your toddler or preschooler.
  • Keep hazardous substances such as medicines or chemicals well out of reach of young children.
  • Put stickers or decals on glass doors or full length windows to reduce the likelihood of collisions.
  • If you have pets, ensure they are fully trained and behave appropriately with your children.
  • Keep an eye out for tiny objects that your baby or toddler could choke on. Pick up any coins, marbles, beads, paper clips and other small objects you find on low tables, on the floor or in low drawers or cupboards.

Childproofing your kitchen & laundry

  • Turn handles of pots and frying pans on the stove to face the wall so that they can’t be grabbed by toddlers or preschoolers.
  • Keep your kettle and its cord out of their reach too.
  • Once appliances such as toasters have been used, unplug them and keep them out of harms way.
  • Keep plastic bags secured to reduce suffocation happening. Try tying a knot in the bags to stop your toddler or preschooler putting them over their face.
  • Be wary of items which toddlers or preschoolers can use as stepping platforms to access the kitchen bench.
  • Turn the oven off at the wall when not in use and supervise your toddler or preschooler around the oven when it’s on or off and still hot.
  • Consider installing locks on dishwashers and ovens to prevent your toddler or preschooler climbing into them and touching the hot elements.
  • Turn off the stove electricity source when not in use so elements can’t be turned on by your toddler or preschooler. If you use a gas stove, consider placing guards over gas knobs so they can’t be turned on.
  • Keep detergents, fabric softeners, stain removers and other chemicals out of reach and securely stored.
  • Consider blocking any laundry chutes until your preschooler is older.
  • If you're ironing, do not leave the hot appliance unattended.
  • If you're soaking clothes in water, ensure it can't be reached by toddlers or preschoolers to help reduce the risk of drowning.

Childproofing your lounge & living areas

  • Install corner and edge bumpers on furniture with sharp edges to prevent your toddler or preschooler from injuring themselves if they fall onto them.
  • If possible avoid buying glass coffee tables which could shatter and cut your toddler or preschooler if they fell hard onto them.
  • Fix or restrain TVs so that they can’t topple when shaken by a toddler or preschooler or fall over in an earthquake.
  • Install socket protectors on electrical outlets to prevent electrocution.
  • Put child safety gates in place at the top and bottom of stairwells until your toddler has mastered the stairs.
  • Place guards in front of fireplaces or open electric heaters.
  • Fix ornaments and vases in place so that they can’t tumble and injure your toddler or preschooler.
  • Secure large furniture items such as bookcases to the wall with brackets.
  • If you have a liquor cabinet, ensure that this is secured with safety or permanent locks to stop your toddler or preschooler from getting inside.

Childproofing your bathroom

  • Place anti-slip mats in the bathroom and in the bath tub to stop your kids from falling.
  • Install toilet lid locks to prevent the risk of drowning and playing with the toilet water.
  • Only use a low water level while bathing your toddler or preschooler. Test the water temperature before they get in and empty the bath after use.
  • Never leave young children unsupervised in the bath.
  • Keep appliances such as hairdryers and straighteners out of reach in a wet bathroom environment to prevent electrocution.
  • Store sharp items such as razors, nail scissors and tweezers well out of your toddler's or preschooler's reach.

Childproofing your toddler or preschooler’s bedroom

  • Evaluate the choking risks of your toddler's or preschooler’s toys, such as long strings which might tangle around their neck.
  • Place guards or restrictors on bedroom windows so they can’t fall out.
  • Ensure drawstrings for blinds/curtains are tied up and out of reach to prevent your toddler or preschooler from choking.
  • Fix furniture such as chests of drawers to the wall so they can’t topple onto your toddler or preschooler and injure them.
  • Put anti-slam devices or doorstops on doors to prevent their fingers being jammed in.
  • Ensure functioning smoke alarms are in place near sleeping areas.
  • Childproofing outside areas.
  • Ensure toddlers and preschoolers are not exposed to any toxic materials such as rat poison or insecticides.
  • Place guards or restrictors on windows leading outside so children can’t fall out or access the road.
  • Make sure your outside area is fully fenced so that children can’t access the road or wander off.
  • If you have a pool, install a high perimeter fence with a locking gate to stop your toddler or preschooler getting into the pool area by themselves.
  • For homes with balconies, keep potential stepping platforms away from the ledge.

Childproofing your garage

  • Keep materials such as paints, methylated spirits and petrol secured and out of reach of toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Consider installing a reversing camera into your car if you don’t have one already to prevent driveway accidents.
  • If you have any heavy or sharp tools hanging on the wall ensure that they are well secured.
  • Keep the keys to your car out of reach of your toddler or prescholer, they may turn the ignition whilst the car is in gear.
  • Be wary of leaving the garage door open as it could be an exit point to the road and an escape route for your toddler or preschooler.
Source: This article was kindly provided by Uncle Andy - Child Safety Locks for cupboards & drawers.
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