Childproof your child’s environment
Look around, use common sense. This is not a complete list; there is always more you can do.
For young children, the most important thing is to watch them! A young child left alone can always find dangerous things to explore.
See www.CPSC.gov, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, for more checklists, tips, and product recalls.
- Old paint is a choking and lead hazard. Scrape away anything loose, cover with new paint. If your home is older, hire a professional who knows how to handle lead.
- Children can fall out of windows. Have strong screens, and blocks to keep them from opening wide enough for a child to fall.
- Large flat-screen TVs can crush small children. Make sure yours are screwed into the wall.
- Cords from blinds can strangle a child. Put them up out of reach.
- Houseplants can be poisonous. Put them out of reach.
- Electrical outlets can cause shocks. Get covers that screw on and close automatically.
- Low coffee tables have edges that can cause cuts when toddlers fall against them. Put padding on the edges, or store the tables.
- Anything with small pieces (like a toy or nick-nack) can choke a child.
- Smoke detectors, and a carbon monoxide detector!
- Toilets and tubs can drown children. Best to keep the doors closed and latched.
- Hot water can scald. See Baby and Child Care on turning down your hot water temperature. (You should be able to put your hand under the hot water comfortably at full heat)
- Hair dryers, curling irons, electrical razors: all need to be out of reach.
- Large pots and pans, unbreakable bowls: keep these in low cabinets; they are great playthings.
- Cleaning supplies poison children. Keep them up high, in locked cabinets. Bleach and drain cleaners are especially dangerous (cause horrible burns in the throat). Bleach in a white bottle can look like milk to a child. Don’t count on “baby proof” latches!
- Hot drinks, and other hot liquids (grease, especially) cause burns. Don’t use a table cloth on the kitchen table (children pull at the cloth, then things fall on them!)
- Have a fire extinguisher!
- Safe sleep: read about crib safety (to prevent strangulation).
- Follow ABCDs for safe infant sleep: Alone, on Back, empty Crib, Don’t smoke
- Toy chests: beware of heavy lids that crush young children.
- Beds: if your child loves to jump on the bed, put the mattress on the floor (less to crash into, and less height to fall from).
- Toys: beware of small pieces with young children. Check for safety recalls at www.cpsc.gov
Basements and laundry room:
- So many hazards here! Best to keep the door locked, or latched way up high.
- Laundry detergents cause burns if swallowed.
- Paints, solvents, supplies all are hazards.
- Things in storage areas can fall on children.
On the road:
- Check www.cpsc.gov for recalls or strollers, car seats
- Car seats, booster seats, seat belts: See in Baby and Child Care, and www.nhtsa.gov (National Highway Transportation Safety Agency). Recalls happen all the time. Check when you buy, and each year or so.
Remember, this is only a partial list! I’m sure you can think of at least 3 or 4 other hazards. The most important thing is that you are thinking, looking, and watching your child.
[this page was last updated by Robert Needlman, on 11-25-2018]