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First of all, don’t bolt your entire living room set to the
floor beneath. Don’t keep yourself up at night imagining nightmare scenarios.
In other words, don’t panic. You can baby-proof your home
and live to tell the story. Just start with the basics, and build from there.
We promise. It’s that easy.
crawling. Really. “Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around the
room,” says safety expert Debra Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby: A
Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living. “You will be
surprised by what you see!” What can you pull up on? Is it stable, or will it
crash to the floor? What can you knock over? Will it break when it hits the
ground? What can you grab and chew (assuming that was a goal)? What can you
open down there? And what can you close?
2. Now stand
up, and head to your kitchen. Stash all poisonous and hazardous products
out of your child’s reach and sight.
Get locks and safety latches for your cabinets and drawers. You can also buy
appliance locks for the oven, the microwave, the refrigerator and the trash
compactor. Remember to cook on the stove’s back burners whenever possible and
always keep your pot handles turned to the back of the stove.
3. Next, consider
your television set. “TVs have gotten huge,” says Dr. Garry Gardner, a
pediatrician in private practice in Darien, Ill., and chairman of the Council
on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention for the American Academy of
Pediatrics. “They are huge, and then
they are put on small TV stands and they are not stable.” Anchor that screen to
the wall to ensure it does not smash down on an adventurous little one. While
you’re at it, anchor the bookshelves. Anchor chests of drawers. Anchor paintings,
and anything else capable of teetering. Toddlers climb up furniture. That’s
just what they do. Make sure your furniture is ready before your baby is.
4. Lock up anything
that could be trouble -- the medicine cabinet, the toilets, drawers (so they
are not used by your toddler as a makeshift step-ladder), etc. Put a deadbolt
on exterior doors so your child cannot let herself in and out at will.
5. Cover up danger.
Cushion sharp furniture edges with furniture guards. Put outlet covers on
electrical outlets, but make sure those covers cannot be easily removed by the
child and are not choking hazards. Put a gate or a guard around the fireplace.
Glass doors may prevent little ones from falling into the flames, but they can
still burn their hands if they press them against the hot glass.
6. Gate off the
top and bottom of staircases with hardware-mounted safety gates. If you just
want to separate, say, the kitchen from the playroom, a pressure-mounted gate
that can be easily installed and removed is fine, Holtzman says.
7. Installwindow guards on all windows from the ground floor up. If that gets too
expensive, try a window-stopping device. Screens, Holtzman says, do NOT offer
8. Watch out
for button batteries, otherwise known as lithium batteries. They are about
the size of a nickel and power common household objects such as TV remotes,
cameras, watches, singing/talking greeting cards, and hearing aids, to name a
few. They are also deadly if swallowed. “If a child swallows one and it gets
stuck in the esophagus, the moisture in the esophagus sets up a current, the
battery gets activated, and it can burn a hole in the esophagus in four hours,”
Gardner says. “If a child swallows a battery, it’s an emergency.”