Words: Anne Schauffer | Images: Shutterstock
Children are curious, and you want them to be. Whether you’re expecting your first or you have a grandchild on the way, childproofing the house for the next couple of years can give you peace of mind. Michelle Jacobs of Baby Proof says, “The goal of childproofing is not to turn your home into a prison-like setting that completely inhibits a child’s ability to explore and develop.
Rather, childproofing should balance such factors as safety, aesthetics, cost, child supervision level and livability.” Childproofing is not just about installing preventative hardware; it’s also about thinking differently.
Michelle says, “Getting down on all fours helps us see the world in a new way and opens up our eyes to potential dangers we may not have thought about.”
Electrical plug points are child magnets, and although it’s straightforward to fit safety plugs or outlet covers to unused wall sockets, it’s more difficult to know what to do with active plugs. “Hide electrical cords behind furniture, alternatively use trunking, Velcro tape and electric cord organisers to tidy up these cords.”
Staircases or stairs
Safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases are the simplest and most effective solution. “If railings have vertical openings wider than 8cm, safeguard them with plastic garden fencing or Perspex. Horizontal railings, no matter the gap, must always be safeguarded,” says Michelle.
This is a challenging area, and although it’s easiest to install a safety gate, it’s often not practical to do so. There are numerous child safety mechanisms which effectively “lock” cupboards and drawers for little fingers, but still allow adults easy access. All cleaning materials, poisons and detergents must be relocated to a cupboard that children won’t be able to reach.
A good idea is making a habit of using the back plates on your stove hob, turning pot handles towards the back and installing an oven lock. Michelle also suggests securing the refrigerator with an appliance or refrigerator latch.
Barring access to the bathroom isn’t always feasible, so it’s important to secure this room, from the hot tap to the medicine chest. Toiletries such as shampoo may seem harmless, but can be dangerous if ingested by a child. All medicines should be locked away, ideally in a high, wall-mounted cupboard.
“Open, unguarded windows can be hazardous,” says Michelle. “They should be able to be locked, but if not, fit them with a Jackloc Window Restrictor. Use window guards, window stops and safety netting on windows, decks and landings, and safeguard balconies with Perspex.”
Heavy furniture and bookcases can pose a threat if they can be pulled over, so if in doubt, secure them to the wall with brackets. For heating, Michelle suggests an Econo-Heat electric wall panel heater, which is safe for children. Sharp edges on tables and other surfaces, as well as doors which can trap fingers, can be softened with a range of specific soft foam products.
Lastly, be sure to block off your driveway and garage with a door and safety gate.