Childproofing Gadgets

Approximately 2.5 million children are injured or killed in their home or the home of a friend every year. This is the bad news. The good news is that many of these injuries and deaths can be prevented by installing simple childproofing gadgets in your home.

Most childproofing gadgets are easy to find and easy to install. Any safety device should be strong enough to prevent your baby from figuring out how it works, but easy for you to use.

There are 10 common childproofing gadgets, all easy to find, that can help prevent injuries to your baby.

1. Safety latches and locks are for cupboards and drawers anywhere in your home. They can help prevent poisoning by keeping cleaning supplies and medications away from your baby. They also protect injury by keeping knives and any other dangerous objects locked safely away. Using safety latches and locks on your cupboards and drawers does not guarantee protection; many babies have opened or removed safety locks or figured out how to disable other childproofing gadgets. All locks and latches can do is make it more difficult for your baby to get into those cupboards and drawers. Hopefully, they will get bored with the effort before they crack the lock. Even so-called child-resistant packaging should be kept out of reach and far away from your baby—they are not childproof.

2. Installing baby gates can help prevent your baby from falling down stairs. They can also be used to keep your baby in a specific room or away from dangerous areas.

3. Doors are everywhere in the home and we are grateful for the privacy they give us. But doors left open are a common safety hazard. Babies can easily wedge their little fingers near the hinges or the catch and an open door can swing shut slamming their fingers in the process. Many a baby has had their finger broken by a closing door. Things like door stoppers and locks are such common household objects that people may not identify them as childproofing gadgets until they have children.

4. Installing door knob covers and door locks can help keep your baby safely inside away from roads and swimming pools and out of rooms not yet childproofed. Fit door stoppers under all of your doors to keep then propped open or close your doors and slip some door knob covers on the handles. Door knob covers make it difficult for your baby to grip the handle and open the door. Lever door handles can be childproofed with special locks, but they can only be opened one-way, so be careful where you put them. Door locks should be placed high out of your baby's reach.

5. Install anti-scalding devices on faucets and showerheads to prevent your baby from turning on the hot water and getting burned. Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. It only takes three seconds for a baby to sustain a third-degree burn from water set at 140 degrees. Always check the temperature of the water with a bath thermometer before bathing your baby. You can also test the water yourself. If it's too hot for your elbow, it is too hot for your baby. Always supervise bath time. It only takes 1 inch of water for your baby to drown -- never leave your baby unattended in the bath.

6. Use window guards on any window your baby could fall against when innocently looking outside. Install safety netting to prevent falls from balconies, decks, and landings. Check your window guards and netting frequently to make sure they are secure. The bars of the window guard should be no more than four inches apart. If you use window guards, make sure at least one window in each room can be used to escape during a fire.

7. Look for hard sharp edges on furniture and decorative features in your home. Install cushioned corner and edge bumpers on your tables and cabinets to prevent those tell-tale L-shaped cuts on your baby's forehead. Install foam padding where your baby could bang their head in a fall.

8. Open electrical sockets are popular places for little fingers and fork tines. It seems these simple and seemingly harmless sockets attract most babies. Cover all your open sockets with electrical plugs or electrical plate covers. Most plugs fit into the socket and sit flush with the wall making it difficult for your baby to get a hold of them. Newer electrical socket plugs can lock into place and require a special key to remove them.

9. Cut window blind cords and use safety tassels to remove the risk of strangulation from blind cord loops. Window blind cord safety tassels on horizontal blinds, tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords can help prevent injuries and deaths from loops of cords. Cut the cord loop, remove the buckle, and attach safety tassels on each cord. Make sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. Ask about safety features to prevent strangulation when buying new blinds and draperies. You can also receive free window blind cord safety tassels by calling 1-800-506-4636.

10. It only takes one meter of loose cable or cord to strangle your baby. Gather all your loose cables and tie them up out of reach or cover them with wire protective covers

The following items are not necessarily childproofing gadgets, but they can make your life easier:
  • Use a cordless phone to make it easier when watching your baby, especially when they're in the bathtub, back yard, or swimming pool. Cordless phones let you watch your baby continuously, without having to leave them to answer a phone call.
  • Install fire detectors in the kitchen, hallways, and stairwell landings on every level of your home to alert you to fires. Fire detectors are essential safety devices for protection against fire injuries and deaths.
  • Install carbon monoxide monitors in the hall outside bedrooms to prevent CO poisoning. If you use gas or oil heat or your house has an attached garage, you should install CO monitors.
  • Check fire detectors and carbon monoxide monitors once a month to make sure they're working. If your detectors are battery-operated, change the batteries at least once a year or consider using 10-year batteries.
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