About 2.5 million children are injured or killed by unsafe conditions in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child-safety devices on the market today. Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It's important to follow installation instructions carefully.
Also, if you have older children in the house, make sure they understand the importance of re-securing the safety devices. Remember, no device is completely childproof; determined youngsters have been known to figure out how to disable them. Child-proofing your is not very expensive and most items you will need can be found at the local baby store or hardware store.
Here are some child-safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to the little ones in the family.
Use safety latches or locks for cabinets and drawers anywhere you store household cleaners, medicines, knives and other sharp objects, and any other poisonous items.
Find safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but that are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Easy to use safety latches are more likely to be used correctly, adults find them frustrating, they may stop using them. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances.
Safety gates help prevent falls down stairs and help keep children away from dangerous areas. Find safety gates that children cannot operate or damage easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw into the wall are more secure than "pressure gates."
We recommend the newer safety gates that meet the latest safety standards. If you have an older safety gate, be sure it does not have "V" shapes that are large enough for a child's head and neck to fit into. These types of gates have been known to cause serious injury.
Door locks help prevent children from entering rooms and other areas were they should not be without supervision, for example, the outdoors, bathrooms, and the swimming pool area.
To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks on safety gates should be placed high, out of reach of small children. Use alarms on all types of doors and means of access to the pool area. An alarm is very effective and will alert you if the door to the pool area is opened whether or not the door is locked.
Door knob covers used in the place of locks are not as effective. These devices can be easily bypassed by most children.
To protect children from burns caused by hot water use anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads, and set your water heater temperature to 120°F or below. You may help from a licensed plumber to install these devices.
Smoke detectors should be on every level of your home and near bedrooms to alert you to fires. Ideally a smoke detector in every bedroom is best.
Smoke detectors are important safety devices to protect against fire deaths and injuries. They alert you at the first sign of smoke or fire and should provide you ample time to exit the home safely. Remember to check smoke detectors once a month to make sure they're working. If detectors are battery-operated, change batteries at least once a year, or consider using 10-year batteries.
Never disable a smoke detector, if it is beeping, change the battery. If changing the battery does solve the problem, replace the smoke detector at once.
To help prevent falls from second floor windows and balconies use window guards and safety netting. Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly maintained. There should be no more than 4 inches of space between the bars of the window guard. Be sure that at least one window guard in each room can be easily removed in the event of an emergency such as a fire. Do not trust a window screen to prevent a fall, they are not strong enough to hold back a child.
Consider using corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces.
Children trip and fall often, so covering any areas in the home that could cause injury from a fall should be cushioned. When looking for dangerous areas, try to look at it from a child's point of view.
Receptacle or outlet covers help to prevent children from electrical shock and possible electrocution.
Use outlet protectors that cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors:
Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are important as well. Locate one outside of the bedrooms to help protect against CO poisoning. Be sure to install one on every floor of the home. Households that should use CO detectors include those with gas or oil heat, gas water heaters, or homes with attached garages. These detectors will sound an alarm if CO (carbon monoxide gas) reaches dangerous levels. If the alarm sounds, leave the home at once and call your local fire department.
Window Blind Cords:
Check window blind cords to make sure they aren't long enough for a child to become entangled in. Children have been strangled by window blind cords.
Cordless blind and window treatments are best. Although not all families are able to replace all products, it is important that parents understand that any corded blind or window treatment can still be a hazard.
Doors can be dangerous, especially to little fingers. Consider using door stops and door holders to help prevent injuries to fingers and hands. When door stops and door holders are used on doors and door hinges they can help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges.
Phone lines and phone wires can be a hazard much like window blind cords. Children can get tangled up and possibly strangled. Cell phones and cordless phones also make it easier to watch young children, especially when they're in bathtubs, swimming pools, or other potentially dangerous areas. Cordless phones help you watch your child continuously without leaving the vicinity to answer a phone call.
In summary, there are a number of different safety devices that can be purchased, many of them are relatively inexpensive. to ensure the safety of children in the home. Homeowners can ask an InterNACHI inspector about these and other safety measures during their next maintenance inspection. Parents should be aware of their surroundings and do their own consumer research to find the most effective safety devices for their home that are age-appropriate for their children's protection.
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