Making your home safe

There is nothing like coming home at the end of a tired day. It’s a place you can relax, put your feet up and just let loose. What’s even better is coming home to a family. A toothless grin from your youngest, very often has a soothing effect.

So you can imagine your distress if one day, you come home or are called at work to be told your bundle of joy fell down the steps, or knocked her head at the edge of your sofa or worse still locked herself inside a cupboard or even the fridge (curiosity can be a strange thing). To never have to come face-to-face with such a situation childproofing your home is something you have to seriously think about. Here are some pointers on how you can go about it.

Children can be the epitome of curiosity when they reach the crawling and exploration stage. It’s amazing how seemingly incongruent things may turn out to be the very source of danger to your child. One of the best ways to test how safe your home is for children is to get down on all fours and crawl around every room in your home. Let us join you in your crawl through rooms and guide you with what you can look out for.

Living areas

Take a look at your seating arrangements first. If you have sofas and futons with wooden or sharp corners, make sure you can get the corners padded. Or else, little heads can get a nasty bump. If within your budget, carpeting your homes would be a good idea. Infants in the initial stages of crawling often fall flat on their nose and a carpet would help cushion those falls. If you have a staircase leading to an upper floor, make sure you have a child safety gate installed. Also, for those with a green thumb, make sure all your indoor plants and pots are out of reach for your children. The most common resting place for every new thing that a child finds is the mouth and you would not want them eating plant soil. Also make sure that stands of any sort; CDs, TV and entertainment units, bookshelves are either fastened to the floor or cannot be pulled down by your child. You never know what may land on your child.

Electrical points

Another potential hazard is electrical points which we leave unattended. Have them moved or dismantled to prevent any risk to your child. Another tip you can keep in mind is when charging your mobile phones. Most of us have the habit of leaving the chargers on even while not charging with the cords hanging loose.

Children will definitely latch on to these and will run the risk of getting a shock or tangling themselves in it.

Replace your curtain cords with Velcro that children can’t get to. With curtain cords you run the risk of your child strangling themselves or even pulling the curtain rod down on their heads. Do not keep foot rests or stools close to windows.

Children can easily climb over these and head right out the window. It’s always a good idea though to make sure your windows are well guarded. If you have a dining room attached to your living area, make sure that you do not use tablecloth. Such clothes are easy to pull down and that can be a mighty heavy load to shoulder for a baby.

Roshita Shetty has a six-month old, who in her own words has been bit by the exploration bug. Roshita says, “Every morning we would get up to the sound of something thumping in the baby’s crib. When we looked to see, junior would be rhythmically bumping her head and finding it amusing. To protect that little skull, we bought what is known as bumper, which can be tied to three sides of the crib and covers the railings in these three sections entirely. This thankfully took care of the head thumping.”

Kitchens

Now, the kitchen can be a potentially dangerous zone for us grown-ups so that makes them even more potent for children. Install cabinets with child proof handles at the lower levels.

This ensures that all your utensils and other toxic substances like detergents, sprays and other such materials are inaccessible to children.

Make sure your garbage is inside a cabinet or with a childproof lid. There is no saying what children will put into their mouths.

Make sure your knives are not on a rack that can be toppled and the same goes for anything made of glass.

Put childproof latches that are easily available in hardware stores on your cabinets, the fridge, drawers and the like. Keep all your electrical appliances out of reach and with their wires securely fastened. Ideally, when cooking, keep your baby in a play pen where you can see them and ensure that they are safe from any spills or accidents that you may have. As far as possible, always cook on the back burner and never lift anything off the stove if your child happens to be loitering around your feet.

Bathrooms

Look around the bathroom and you will spot several potential hazards for your baby. An open toilet seat is invitation enough to climb in. Shilpa Anand recalls how she entered her bathroom once and was shocked to find her two- year-old inside the toilet bowl attempting ‘to swim’. A childproof seat would be ideal, so would similar latches for cabinets.

Make sure all your cosmetics, cleansers, detergents, toiletries etc are out of reach. It takes only a few seconds for your baby to ingest such dangerous things.  Try and install, slip-proof tiles and non-slip tiles close to the bathtub or showers to make sure your child does not slip and hurt herself when stepping out of the tub

Also cordon off the area leading to the shower to make sure your child does not open the hot water tap on herself. You may also want to install padding of some sort across the taps to prevent your child from bumping her head at bath times.

These are just some of the things you can do to help create a safer environment for your child.  There are however some things that you can figure out only after your child has got herself into a potentially tight spot.

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