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Checklist for child-proofing your home to make it baby safe

Creating a safe home for childrenMaking your home baby-safe is an important task.  You’d be amazed at what little fingers can get themselves into, so use our handy child-proof your home checklist to ensure that you make inside your home as childproof as possible because you can’t keep your eyes on them all the time!

Ensure that you baby-proof your house well in advance of each stage of your child’s development – don’t let your child hurt themselves the first time they manage to reach something. Try crawling around your house to see what dangers you can spot from a child’s eyes. And make sure other carers for your child (grandparents, babysitters, etc) follow the same rules. Finally, don’t forget safety when you’re away from your home – other peoples’ houses and holiday homes may not have been baby-proofed so be extra vigilant.

Here is a general list of indoor safety points to consider.

Electricity

  • get a safety cut-out switch installed at the main switchboard
  • insert safety plugs in all unused power points
  • ensure that electrical appliance cords aren’t dangling over the edges of work surfaces where a child could pull them and potential pull the appliance onto themselves
  • get all work carried out by a qualified electrician

Dangerous substances

You need to ensure that all dangerous substances and items are well out of the reach of curious little hands – items such as medicines, cleaning products, chemicals, poisons, cosmetics, matches & lighters.

  • keep all dangerous substances somewhere out of reach of children
  • put a lock on the doors of any cupboard containing dangerous items
  • look for products with child-resistant containers
  • never transfer dangerous substances to unlabelled or old containers, such as soft drink bottles
  • keep the Poisons Information Centre number 13 11 26 by the phone

Cords on curtains and blinds

Curtain and blind cords can represent a strangulation hazard to small children – children can get caught on the end of a cord loop or may wrap the cord around themselves.

  • consider purchasing special safety toggles to fit on blind and curtain cords
  • consider buying special cord ‘shorteners’ or affix wrap-round cleats to the wall
  • if your blind/curtain needs a continuous loop which can’t be cut, consider buying special boxes that ‘hide’ the end of the cord

Glass doors & windows

Children can fall out of a window which is open more than 10cm, even if a fly screen is fitted. Young children, aged from one to five years, are most at risk as they are naturally curious but lack the ability to recognise danger, with boys often being ‘more curious’ than girls. Be especially vigilant during the warmer months when you are more likely to leave windows and doors to balconies open both during the day and at night.

  • consider installing toughened safety glass on low windows and glass in doors
  • if safety glass is too expensive, apply shatter resistant film (this film is applied directly to the glass. should the glass break, the sticky film will stop the pieces from shattering and dispersing)
  • put stickers on ground level windows to help children see the window
  • don’t put chairs, boxes, beds or anything that a child could climb onto underneath a window
  • consider installing window locks – but be aware of fire danger also (keep the key somewhere handy that you could reach easily in case of fire, but which is out of reach of a child)
  • windows shouldn’t be opened more than 10cm when located above the ground floor – have window latches/locks fitted to stop windows opening more than 10cm or guards to protect the opening
  • the safeest windows are those that open from the top
  • do not rely on fly screens to prevent a child falling out of a window
  • ensure that children are taught to play away from windows

Balconies

To prevent children being injured as a result of falling from a balcony, it is recommended that balustrades, where possible:

  • be at least one metre high
  • vertical bars must be no more than 12.5cm apart (use a ruler to measure the gaps between your vertical balustrade posts)
  • all vertical bars are firmly fixed and can’t be pulled loose to create a large gap
  • have no horizontal or near horizontal parts that would allow children to climb
  • all furniture, pot plants and other climbable objects are kept away from the edge of balconies
  • that you be aware of furniture that is light enough for children to drag to the balcony edge
  • children are always supervised on balconies

Hot water

  • considering getting a thermostatic valve fitted which ensures that the water in your bathroom is delivered at a temperature no higher than 50oC. Various devices are available; all must be fitted by a licensed plumber
  • keep kettle cords out of reach of children
  • keep pan handles turned away from the edge of the cooker hob
  • fit guards to your taps to prevent a child turning them on

Stairs

  • fit stair gates at both the top and bottom of stairs – ensure that they fit well and can’t be ‘pushed out’ by an enthusiastic child; and make sure that you close and lock the gate each time you use it

Heaters & fire hazards

  • install smoke alarms and check that they are working correctly on a regular basis
  • keep a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen
  • install guards around heaters and open fires
  • keep matches and lighters out of the reach of all children

Kitchens

  • keep small fridge magnets out of the reach of children – they can be a choking hazard
  • consider locks/anti-opening devices for your oven, microwave, fridge and dishwater
  • if possible, keep the dishwasher locked and place all sharp objects, knives, etc, sharp end down
  • keep surfaces hygienically clean
  • keep appliance cords away from edges where a child could pull them
  • consider a stove guard to prevent a child getting near a hot oven door
  • place protectors on oven switches to prevent child turning rings or gas on
  • turn pan handles into centre of hob so children can’t grab them and pull the pans, and their hot contents, down on top of themselves
  • keep plastic bags out of reach
  • keep cleaning products and other dangerous substances out of reach – including dishwasher powder and tablets
  • keep sharp objects out of reach
  • keep the rubbush bin inaccessible
  • install cupboard and drawer locks where necessary – there are a wide variety available

Toys

  • buy toys that are suitable for your child’s age
  • remove and discard all packaging before giving the toy to your child
  • beware of any loose or removable small parts that could represent a choking hazard
  • immediately repair or throw away damaged toys
  • beware of strings, ribbons & cords
  • keep toys hygenically clean

Floor Coverings

Floor coverings, such as wood and tiles that can be slippering, or rugs with edges that you can trip over, are additional hazards for little ones who may not be too stable yet on their feet.  They can also be dangerous for you if you are walking in your home carrying your baby.

  • place anti-slip mats under rugs
  • wipe up spills, wood & tile floors can be slippery when wet
  • don’t overwax floors
  • tack down any loose carpet or rug edges

General

And finally, here are some general safety points and tips for keeping your home safe for your children.

  • put locks on any cupboard or drawer containing items that could present a hazard to a child
  • don’t carry your baby at the same time as hot food or drinks
  • don’t lift hot food or drinks over your child
  • use place-mats rather than table cloths; a crawling child could tug on a table cloth and pull it and everything on it, on top of themselves
  • consider door stops to prevent trapped fingers
  • protect children from sharp corners (corner ‘cushions’ are available to buy)
  • remove all containers that water can sit in; infants can drown in just a few cms of water
  • keep all small objects out of baby’s reach; pick up things off the floor (as a guide, an item could be a choking hazard if smaller than a D size battery)
  • always supervise children in the bath (avoid distractions, such as the telephone – consider taking the phone off the hook or putting the answerphone on)
  • keep filled nappy buckets fitted with a secure lid
  • be careful with what you put in the rubbish bin (eg razors, etc), or make the bin inaccessible to a child
  • keep the bathroom door closed
  • consider installing guards on ceiling fans
  • the polystyrene balls in bean bags can represent a serious choking hazard to a small child – remove the end of the zipper so that children can’t get at the beads inside. Use a paperclip if you wish to undo the zipper at a later date

 

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start!  Supervision is the key to child safety, but you can’t watch them 24/7, so minimise any risks by ensuring that your home space is as safe as possible for your children.

 

For further information on child safety, we recommend a visit to your local Kidsafe Centre.  Kidsafe is the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia and they have a wealth of information on child safety.   Their online child safety fact sheets (from Kidsafe Qld) provide even more information on different aspects of baby and child safety.

Useful links

Directory:  stores selling child safety products

Printables: local safety helplines printable

Articles: choosing baby safe nursery furniture

Info Hubs: baby info hub & toddler info hub

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