Top Home Safety Tips for People with Kids
12 ways to better protect your most valuable treasures
Parents, we know you’re probably reading this with a child tugging on your arm, so we’ll cut to the chase: Here are 12 of the most important things you can do to make your home safer for kids, according to the experts at UL.
1. Lock up even when you’re home. Keep doors, windows and your garage locked at all times. In three out of 10 home thefts, the burglar entered through an unlocked door or window, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Locking up isn't only about keeping intruders out — it’s about keeping kids in, especially if you have a swimming pool. Locked doors will help prevent little kids from wandering out to the pool alone.
2. Set your hot water heater to no higher than 120 degrees F. How can you tell if your water is too hot? You should be able to submerge your arm in it for 30 seconds without discomfort, says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for UL.
3. Tie up window blind cords. They’re a strangulation hazard. Install hooks and wind up cords to keep them out of reach of children. Better yet, replace all blinds with cordless ones.
4. Keep choking hazards out of reach of babies and toddlers. Drengenberg has a simple trick for determining if an item is small enough to choke a child. “Use the cardboard roll that remains after the toilet paper is used up. If a toy or part can fit through the center of the roll, it is too small.” Small magnets are particularly dangerous. Foods can be choking hazards, too. Watch out for these foods in particular.
5. Soften sharp edges, such as the corners of countertops and coffee tables, with foam padding.
6. Use outlet covers on electrical outlets. Those little plastic plugs can prevent crawling kids or curious toddlers from sticking their fingers or other objects into an outlet.
7. Install childproof locks on cabinets within reach of kids. Even if a bottom drawer doesn't contain anything that would tempt a toddler, “children are clever,“ Drengenberg says. “They will open a bottom drawer and stand on it to reach the top.”
8. Keep medicines and household cleaners out of reach. Laundry detergent pods are especially tempting because they're small and brightly colored. Don't give your child a chance to pop one into his mouth. In your garage, secure the antifreeze and other hazardous liquids . Also keep these alcohol-based products out of reach, too.
9. Test for lead paint. Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. As this paint chips and deteriorates, it creates lead dust. A child who breathes it in or swallows it can develop lead poisoning. Talk to your local health department about how to test for lead paint.
10. Secure your large-screen TV. At least 15,000 kids visit ERs each year with injuries from toppling TVs or falling furniture, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Talk to your kids about the dangers of TVs falling over, keep the TV away from the edge of the TV stand and don’t put the TV on a dresser, the CPSC suggests.
11. Install a carbon monoxide alarm outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can build up in the air if it's leaking from an appliance. If a person breathes it in while sleeping, it could be fatal.
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12. Close each bedroom door at night. Yes, you need to be able to hear if a child calls for you in the night. But a closed door can buy precious minutes in the event of a fire. Fire experts recommend using a baby monitor and closing doors. Of course you should also install a smoke alarm in every bedroom and practice your home fire escape plan twice a year.
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