At The Home Hero, ensuring the safety of children is our highest calling as professional superheroes. We’re big advocates for homeowners taking whatever steps are needed to make sure their little ones are safe. Babyproofing and childproofing your home is a superpower we are proud of!
That said, after ten years and working in over 7500 homes, we believe there’s a difference between making your home safe, and going a little, how shall we say…OVERBOARD! We find first-time parents especially vulnerable to the Childproofing Industrial Complex. It’s easy to lose sight of keeping safety in balance with practicality.
That’s why in today’s blog post, we want to discuss our philosophical approach to childproofing and keeping the entire process in perspective for first-time parents of toddlers.
One caveat, the items we’ll be discussing are focused on children as young as toddlers (9 months’ish) to about 4 years old. Younger children who are not mobile yet have some other risk factors that involve crib safety, choking hazards, drowning risk, SIDS, etc. Since our specialty doesn’t really cross into infants/newborns, we highly encourage you to look at those safety issues separately and confer with other online and in-person experts. They can better advise you for infants and their associated risk levels.
First things first. The mere fact that you are looking into childproofing your home, and doing your research and due diligence, means you’re already statistically less likely to have a serious injury in the home. Parents that are engaged, educated and involved in evaluating their home’s safety are more likely to be more observant of their children and their activities. Direct supervision of your child is the number one thing you can do to reduce the risk of injury to your child.
So relax, your little one is going to be OK, we promise. They’ll be borrowing the car and telling you “You’re so lame” before you know it. This phase will pass so fast your head will spin!
The key to childproofing is to reduce the risk from the highest risk factors. We like to call these, the “low hanging fruit” of safety. Below is a breakdown list of percentage of ER visits for children ages 1-4 for injuries in the year 2014-2015 from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Now let’s review some simple game plans for each risk factor.
Injury due to falls is equal to all other risk factors combined! It’s the number one item you should address in your home, especially for children 4 and younger. Stairs are usually the highest danger areas for young children. That’s why we always recommend putting a baby gate at the top of the stairs first! Bottom of stairs we like to say is “optional” but when you have a child who’s on the move, it’s nice to be able to corral the child on the floor and not have to worry about them sneaking their way up the stairs when your back is turned, increasing the risk of a fall.
We recommend putting a gate at the top and bottom on each level where you and your child will be spending the most time. If you don’t plan to let your child hang out in the basement, then skip putting a gate there. Just focus on the main areas where the child will be spending most of their time. But don’t forget, the toddler of today will be the 2 or 3-year-old of tomorrow. So try to be forward thinking and remember that as children get older, they want more freedom and space to run. So be realistic on how much of the house you can keep them out of.
The other big risk factor with falls can be railings. A lot of modern homes nowadays have horizontal bars on the railings which look cool but are basically a ladder for young children to climb up and possibly over. To keep expenses low and safety high, we recommend putting a simple soft plastic over the railings called Banister Shield. This product can be attached with zip ties and is “cheap and cheerful” solution. The key here is keeping the child from putting their feet on the horizontal bars, and being able to climb. Unless the spacing between the railings is greater than 4 inches, we’re often not concerned with the child slipping through the railings. The real danger to look for is minimizing the child’s ability to climb.
The second biggest risk factor to children in the home is heavy objects falling on them. Furniture and TV’s are often the most likely culprits. Luckily there’s a super easy and inexpensive solution for this. A simple anti-tip strap attaching the furniture or TV to the wall can exponentially reduce this risk. Focus on pieces that are taller than 30” and especially pieces that have lower drawers that the child can pull out and stand on, changing the “physics” of the object and increase the risk of tipping. Also, mounting TV’s to walls is a great option to prevent it from toppling over if a little one was to start pulling on the cords.
The easiest solution for this risk factor is a complete DIY. Re-organizing your kitchen drawers to keep the knives up high, and the Tupperware down low is the easiest thing you can do to minimize/reduce this risk. Don’t forget about things like food processor blades and tin foil that have that super sharp serrated cutting edge on the box. Simply putting these items in a higher cabinet can help save the day for an unsuspecting and curious toddler.
This is also another easy fix. We recommend keeping all your cleaning chemicals in one cabinet and install a simple cabinet lock or surface knob latch. Don’t forget about the bathroom vanities too. Cabinet locks are really inexpensive, but they also don’t always work great and easily break and go out of alignment. That’s why we always preach a minimalist approach with the cabinet locks. Don’t lock every drawer in your house. Re-organize first, and try to only use the cabinet locks on the most critical cabinets only.
So now that you know the risks, what’s the next step? There’s a lot you can do yourself, but often people look to a professional if they are less then handy. That’s when we here at The Home Hero can help.
But here’s the best part, we don’t even need to come to your house to provide you with an estimate! By just answering some simple questions and providing us photos of each gate install area, suspect railings, heavy furniture, etc, we can provide you with a lightning-fast quote in 24 hours or less. You can even submit a request in your underwear (we won’t tell)!
Simply go to www.TheHomeHero.com and visit our Home Hero Super-Computer, The Virtual Estimator Bot 5000. There you can enter all the details and upload all the photos/details you want.
How’s that for Super-Powered? The Home Hero, saving homeowners in every way, every day.
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