As babies grow, they become more active and curious. They begin to taste, crawl, grab and climb anything and everything within sight. Although an exciting time, this can also be an incredibly stressful phase of parenting as babies are incredibly vulnerable to dangers in their new surroundings. Just as you take responsibility for your home with home insurance, by following these 'childproofing' tips, you too can help keep your inquisitive baby, toddler or child safer at home.
General safety tips around the house
First of all, make your furniture child-friendly. Where possible, you should cushion the corners of your furniture with corner guards and secure any furniture that may fall (such as a bookcase) to the wall. Another thing to be wary of are drawers. Keep all drawers closed (especially chests of drawers and filing cabinets) as, again, these can fall on top of your child or injure your child when they are used as ladders to reach high places! To prevent heavy objects such as television sets from toppling over, place them on low tables and make sure they are pushed back towards the wall as far as possible.
Next, look into securing all the windows and doors in your house with child proof locks. Consider where you place your furniture in relation to the windows and rearrange them in a way so that children cannot climb onto them and fall out of the window. A great tip for preventing your child from running into or through the glass is to mark any glass sliding doors or big windows in the house with bright or colourful stickers. Stop little fingers from getting trapped in doors by using door stops. If you have stairs, it is important that you install stair safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs as well. Safety gates can also be used to restrict access to other areas of the home.
Prevent electrical shocks from happening in your home. Cover all sockets that are not in use and tuck all electrical cords away. You should be able to find socket covers in most hardware shops, department stores and electrical shops. Unplug any appliances, such as the iron or toaster, when they are not in use and move them out of reach.
The kitchen may possibly be the most dangerous room at home. Here, children are exposed to sharp, hot and poisonous objects. Use safety latches/locks for drawers and cupboards. Knives and all other dangerous items should be kept out of reach and locked away. When using the stove, cook on the back burners in preference to the front. Turn all handles on pots and pans towards the back wall of the stove when hot and look into buying a safety guard to cover the oven. Do not hold your child whilst cooking. If you sit your child in a high chair, make sure that it is not within reach of anything dangerous. Lock any cupboards that store cleaning products. Finally, avoid using table cloths as children can pull these, and whatever is on top of them, down onto themselves.
In the bathroom, to prevent scalding, consider having a plumber install an anti-scald device which restricts hot water flow to a safe temperature. Keep bathroom doors closed at all times and make sure you install a childproof lock.
To make sure your child isn't at risk of being poisoned, dispose of any medicines that are past their use-by-date and keep all others out of reach and preferably locked away. The same should be done for vitamins, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, razor blades and other bathroom products.
Make sure the baby's cot meets Australian Safety Standardsi and is set up and installed correctly. If your cot has a drop side, this should be up and locked when you are not in the room with your child. There has been some safety concerns of timber cots with drop sides in the United States, and to make sure your cot is not hazardous, refer to the Australian Product Safety website for a list of these recalled cots. When your child begins to try climb out of their cot, think about moving your child to a bed appropriately set up. Never leave your child unattended on a change unit or high surface.
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i Commonwealth of Australia, 2005, Trade Practices Act 1974 - Consumer Protection Notice No. 6 of 2005 - Consumer Product Safety Standard: Children's Household Cots, http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2005L03885