As a first-time grandparent, I've been grandchild-proofing my house. What I needed was the wit and wisdom to outsmart him, which is difficult considering that he is probably smarter than I. I fretted about the fact that 2.5 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. But I also read that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child safety devices on the market today. I set about learning all I could from places like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products.
The agency recommended using safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, bathroom and other areas to prevent poisonings and other injuries from household cleaners and sharp objects. I found safety latches that could be easily installed and used, but sturdy enough to withstand a yank from a young child. The latches make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances.
There was also the matter of stairs. I needed a safety gate to prevent my grandson from crawling up or down stairs and keep him away from upstairs dangers. I found a safety gate that couldn't be dislodged easily, and it screwed to the wall, but I could open and close it easily. The CPSC recommends getting new safety gates that have a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Assn. If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn't have "V" shapes that are large enough for a child's head and neck to fit into.
Covers for doorknobs and door locks also help prevent children from entering rooms that have possible hazards. Doorknobs should allow the door to be opened quickly by an adult but still restrict access. Door locks need to be placed high out of reach of young children and used in addition to fences, sliding glass doors, etc.
Outlet covers and outlet plates protect children from possible electrical shock or electrocution. I also found anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads that would prevent burns from hot water; and placed smoke detectors on each level of my home.
Then there are window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks, and landings. I also needed to purchase corner and edge bumpers so my grandchild would not be injured from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplace hearths. Bumpers need to stay securely on furniture or hearth edges.
I had to cut my window blind cords and safety tassels because my grandchild was looping them around his arms and body. I had older vertical blinds, so I cut the cord loop, removed the buckles and put safety tassels on each cord. The CPSC recommends that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. When buying new blinds and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation. You can get window blind cord safety tassels free by calling (800) 506-4636.
I already had a cordless phone, so I could continuously watch my grandson scoot around to places that I'd safety-proofed. Carrying a cordless is absolutely necessary because you don't have to leave the vicinity of the child to answer the phone. Cordless phones are so inexpensive now, it pays to have several around the house.
Position the crib away from electrical cords, drapery and windows and remove any mobiles or dangly toys as soon as he can reach them. One day I found my grandson inspecting the inside of the toilet, and trying to get in for a swim. I learned to lower the lids on each toilet when he came to visit. Of course, as he grows, I will have to install toilet lid locks as well.
It took some hard work to grandchild-proof my home, and I'm still not done because it's a learning process. Every time my grandson grows another inch, I have to do more to ensure his safety. It's an ongoing process and one, I'm sure, that every grandparent will want to do.