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Optimal Ways to Childproof a Home

By: Mike Thomas

Childproofing a home is smart, simple and can even be fun. The biggest mistake that the average new parent makes is that they do not fully appreciate the experience of creating a safe and healthy environment. There is a certain satisfaction and indescribable boost to self-esteem that is gained when a smart decision made a few years back prevents a trip to the hospital. This is why it is such a mistake to neglect the experience; the act of childproofing in itself is a sign of both great parenting and personal responsibility. The Earth would be a far better place if more people possessed these traits, and any activity that fosters them is obviously worth the effort. Just imagine a world with more great parents and responsible individuals. With that said, let's dive right into a quick-yet-comprehensive guide to childproofing a home.

First Things First

Thinking in terms of general to specific will make it far easier to comb the home. General childproofing involves any basic risks to a child's health that will occur in any home, while specific childproofing is unique to the parents and their hobbies, professions and individual preferences. A professional musician that owns tens of thousands of dollars in equipment will need to take certain measures to protect those assets, but they are the same as every other parent when it comes to keeping breakables out of arms reach. Again, not everyone is a musician, but most people have something unique to their life that's worth protecting.

General Guidelines

The easiest way to figure out what needs to be done is to think in terms of injury and damage. Either situations are going to injure the child or the child is going to damage the home. With that said, it's easy to identify the most common points of interest.

The first points of interest are access points. Doors, stairways, fireplaces and cabinets can always shed light on a potential problem. If a child has no business in a specific room, locks or doorknob covers should always be utilized. If the door needs to be open often, then safety gates are the next best bet. Safety gates are also great for fireplaces and stairways, but windows are more of a tricky subject and typically demand good old-fashioned supervision while open and a lock while closed. Cabinets should always have safety latches and be kept closed.

The next points of interest are anything that the child can reach. This includes everything from pottery to stoves, and the idea here is to keep in mind that it if a kid can grab or touch it, they probably will regardless of whether or not it's a good idea. If something within a child's reach is either harmful to them or difficult to reach, it should be moved or protected. Coffee tables, entertainment centers, nightstands, counter tops, desks and any free-standing furniture are common places to look. If it is within a child's reach, access needs to be limited or an eye needs to be kept glued to the kids. It only takes five seconds for them to break their arm or that urn that's holding grandma's ashes.

Getting Specific

It's important to realize that the prevailing guideline is still preventing injury and damage when it comes to specifics. An art collector is preventing injury and damage when childproofing their art, but because it is a specific part of their home, it's impossible to say exactly what must be done to protect both the art and the child. The easiest way to handle specific issues is to prevent access entirely whenever possible to rooms or other areas of the house that the child is too young to handle. Other than that, the only responsible way forward is to teach the children as early as possible to be extremely respectful and careful in unique parts of the house that contain tools, equipment, treasures and trinkets that are a part of who their parents are.

And Finally...

The most important part of childproofing a home is recognizing when the only option is supervision. Parenting is most often a responsibility before it is a joy, and when it is impossible to passively protect a child from the environment or the environment from the child, active protection is the only way forward.

  

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†Average repair and replacement costs as reported in a nationwide survey: A Study of Homeowners Appliance and Home System Service Experiences Decision Analyst (2011) and reprinted with their written permission.

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