Dear Mr. Dad: I always seem to be hearing about children who are seriously injured (or worse) in their own houses. We just brought our new baby home from the hospital, but I want to start getting our house childproofed right now. How should we start and what should we do?
A: When it comes to your child's safety, there's no such thing as too soon, especially at home, where accidents are among the biggest (and most-preventable) causes of injury and death to young children. And because kittens grow up to be cats, there's also no such thing is being done with childproofing. It's a process that will last until he or she moves out of the house (although you'll have to start all over again when your grandchildren arrive).
Your first order of business is to think like a baby. That means getting down on your hands and knees and exploring your home. Electrical outlets look like perfect places to stick forks, don't they? Drapery cords and dangling corners of tablecloths are almost begging to get yanked on; the dried out carrot that fell under the dining room table a few months ago looks delicious; and what about all those buttons and knobs on the stove? Hopefully you get the point.
Let's start with the basics. We'll go into more detail in future columns.
THE QUICK ONCE-OVER
Bolt bookshelves and other free-standing cabinets to the wall -- especially if you live in earthquake country. Babies love to climb and pull and they have a knack for doing so the second your attention wanes.
Don't hang heavy objects from the handles of the stroller. It can tip over (I say that from experience).
If you have radiators, get special guards to keep little fingers from getting burned. And if you have space heaters or electric fans, get them off the floor and well out of reach.
If you have stairs, install safety gates at the top and bottom of every stairway.
Turn your water heater's thermostat down to 120 degrees. It takes only a few seconds for a baby to get scalded.
Get a fire extinguisher (test it and make sure it's full), and be sure that you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every bedroom.
ESPECIALLY IN THE BEDROOM/NURSERY
Be sure that your baby's bassinet and crib conform to today's safety standards. Chances are the one you slept in as a baby doesn't, and neither does that gorgeous antique you found at an estate sale.
Get rid of crib bumpers (those are the pillow-like pads that are designed to protect babies from banging their head against crib rails. The problem is that they're associated with an increased risk of injury and death. The risks aren't very high to start with, but if you have a chance to reduce them to zero, why not do it?
Keep the crib at least two feet away from blinds, drapes, hanging cords, or wall decorations with ribbons.
Keep all toys, blankets, and pillows out of the crib. They're smothering hazards and many clever babies will try to use them to escape their crib.
Check all toys -- even new ones -- for recalls. One especially reliable source is https://www.safekids.org/product-recalls
Always close dresser drawers. From a baby's perspective, they look a lot like stairs.
Set up the changing table so that all supplies -- diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, and new outfits -- are within arm's reach. You never, ever want to leave your baby unattended on the table, even for a second.
(Read Armin Brott's blog at www.DadSoup.com, follow him on Twitter, @mrdad, or send email to email@example.com.)
(c)2017 Armin Brott
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