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July 01, 2012

Kids and the home

Foolproof tips to childproof the home

Aaliya Essa

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Finally, summer is here, and with temperatures climbing into the double digits it’s time to open up the windows and let in some fresh air. The open window is something to be extra mindful of, as the number of accidents involving kids falling out of windows during these months remain at an alarming rate.

Windows aren’t the only cause for concern in households with young children; stairs and improperly stored toxins are also major sources of accidents.

“These are the top three things for most concern,” says Stuart Brideaux, Public Education officer with Alberta Health Services and Emergency Medical Services. “Eliminating access to windows and stairways to prevent falls in the home, and eliminating access to any types of poisons and toxins at floor level for a toddler,” Brideaux says, are the ABC’s of childproofing a home.

Child safety precautions in the home are essential; a parent cannot watch over a child every minute of the day, so being pro-active and childproofing the home helps to avoid accidents.

The open window
Unsecured, easy access to an open window has been the root cause of many falls. It’s something you read about in the papers with some regularity in the summer.

The Alberta Children’s Hospital in 2011 treated 12 children for injuries sustained from falling out of windows, mostly from the second storeys of homes. That’s double the five cases taken to the ACH in 2010 and four-times the three incidents in 2009.

“Children are natural climbers,” says Brideaux, so the trick is to move the crib away from the window. This rule also applies to change tables, beds, stools, and dressers any furniture that is kept in a child’s room.

“We always advocate first that a child cannot risk any injuries from a fall, or worse, from a window they can’t access,” says Brideaux.

“Installing window attachments that can be simply screwed onto the frames of the window, we generally advise to prevent the window from opening greater than 10 centimetres,” says Brideaux.

Window guards are available at any hardware store; they generally come in sets of two and are around $10. Home Depot and Rona carry these products. This is just the beginning, as there is so much more than windows to baby proofing a home.

Ground rules
As infants to small children spend a great deal of time on the floor and anything they see there is fair game for putting in their mouths, so there should be nothing on that surface that poses as a choking-hazard.

As a rule of thumb, objects that poses the greatest danger for choking is anything smaller in size than the inside of a paper towel roll. If an object can fit in that receptacle, it can easily fit into the infant’s mouth.

Look out for sharp edges, like on the corners of a coffee table and side table, these edges should be padded down. It can’t be stressed enough that housecleaning chemicals, paint and other household chemicals should be stowed away properly where kids won’t have access.

Electrical burns are another hazard, “many wall outlets are at a toddler’s crawling level, you need to buy commercially available safety caps,” says Brideaux. Cords that are in use may be tucked away, if possible, so a toddler cannot easily pull them out and get an electrical burn.

Another type of burn hazard in the home to be aware of is hot water from a pot or a kettle containing liquid on the stove. “If a child can gain access to it, by reaching a lid or a pan and inadvertently pull it or dump that hot liquid on themselves, that can cause a scald for sure,” adds Brideaux.

Cords and the kids
Cords for blinds should be out of reach, either by shortening them or removing this hazard altogether by installing cordless blinds. “Cords can be moved away safely from the window by using cord cleats,” says Hunter Douglas’s Director of Marketing Sue Rainville, this ensures a child cannot pull on the cord.

Hunter Douglas offers a large variety of window treatments that have safety features built into them, such as the LiteRise which has no exposed cord at all, the Motorized model is battery operated that uses no cord at all, and Ultra Glide has a single pull cord that remains the same length and out of reach of little kids, Rainville says.

Hard knocks
Door handles and lower cabinet doors are also a concern for parents. There are simple devices that cover the door handles and latch onto cabinet doors, ensuring neither one can be opened by a toddler. While the toilet seat cover must also be latched down, including the lower cabinets in the bathroom, as generally cleaning products and such are kept here.

Luckily for parents, there are kits that cover a number of concerns in a home today. Available at hardware stores and grocery stores, kits include: doorknob covers, wider grip latches for cabinet access, and plug protectors.

Many accidents can be avoided by taking extra time to cover all the above-mentioned points. Summer is here now lets have some fun and safe time in and outside the home.

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