Make your child's room safe

DESIGN

In earlier times, there really was no concept of a children’s room, especially in th Indian context. Of course, children got a room to call their own by the time they hit their pre-teens, but having one from the time of being a toddler is a relatively new phenomenon.

Lighting is perhaps one of the most integral aspects in the creation of a child’s room. Says Indrajit S Kembhavi, Principal Architect, Kembhavi Architecture Foundation, “Children’s minds are bursting with ideas, energy and creativity. Therefore it is a challenge to design and explore in order to conjure the right settings to reveal the personality of the child. There is a wide gap between lighting used for a child’s room compared to an adult’s room. One must also keep in mind that the lighting requirements of an individual changes with age.”

In a room for toddlers, safety is of primary concern. Children love to explore and are curious about everything they see. Putting their fingers into sockets is something you have to protect them from. N R Lakshminarayanan, Director, Technical, at Lead Consultancy and Engineering Services says, “A meter from the ground is where sockets are generally installed.

“However, in a child’s room it should be at 1.2 meters. If you feel that even this is accessible to possibly a five-year old, then you could consider different heights. The use of shuttered sockets is also common in children’s room.

This means that the socket opens up only when a plug is inserted and not otherwise. It keeps those mischievous fingers at bay.”

Essential considerations

One must also consider the personality of the child in deciding on lighting. Indrajit explains, “Although there are many lighting fixtures with elaborate designs in the market today, the fixtures chosen should be such that they don’t cast many shadows. Because children are very imaginative, these different shadows can easily scare them.

For these purposes, ceiling fixtures are preferred; wall lights which provide direct light brighten the room. Innovative and cheerful designs add a positive effect to the room as a whole.”

As the child grows older, his needs differ. Indrajit feels that no children’s room is complete without a study lamp. These come in several shapes, sizes and forms.

The lamps should be durable and have a sturdy base with lamp shades so as to prevent strain while the child is studying or reading.

Nightlights and dimmers are also made use of in plenty as these help tone down the intensity of light in the room thereby not engulfing it in darkness either.

Dimmers are essential, especially if a parent plans to read to children before they sleep. Scones are also used as they create different focal points in the room.

Safety concerns

Apart from child-safe shutters, many electrical set-ups, especially in children’s rooms are done with RCCBs or Residual Current Circuit Breakers, says Lakshminarayanan. What these essentially do is shut down the power supply in that socket instantly should someone come in contact with it. These can be extremely useful in children’s rooms.

Also the use of Zero Halogen Fire Retardant (ZHFR) and Fire Retardant Low Smoke (FRLS) wiring is also advised. Should there be a fire in the house, the insulation on this wiring is such that it will work at dousing the fire rather than inflaming it.

Indrajit adds that pull ropes are also quite essential and efficient, as they give children the freedom to operate the switches without coming in direct contact with it.

Bump lights can act as buttons and the child needs to only press them to switch it on or off, and can be a good option.

When deciding on the lighting in a child’s room, you need to take into consideration the child’s age, the dimensions of the room and the areas that you want highlighted. Always create lighting in such a way that there is scope for enhancements as the child grows.

HANDLE WITH CARE

* Have a control switch just outside the child’s room so that you don’t have to enter the room when it is dark.

* Have another switch by the bed of the child.

* Modular sockets always have better safety features than conventional ones.

* Avoid using metal fixtures of any sort in the room as these tend to heat up and can hurt a child.

* Make sure all power points are well grounded.

* Always opt for soft lighting in a child’s room.

(Inputs from Indrajit S Kembhavi & N R Lakshminarayanan)

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