We are living in a miraculous time. Life is complex, yet we are constantly able to accomplish more and more in the course of a day. Technology continually advances to allow instantly-scheduled meetings or automatic photo printing. Our homes have also become meccas of convenience and efficiency. Interior designers have analyzed life for real people, and our living spaces now reflect adaptations for our realities. For the elderly, this may mean electronic stair lifts and non-spherical door handles. For the modern family, kitchens include pull-out shelving solutions, smart home technology and laundry rooms that have relocated to a central floor.
While these innovations have allowed us to pack more tasks into the course of a day, it is always crucial to pay attention to the ramifications of these new conveniences. For parents of young kids, childproofing has always included certain tasks to check off a master list. We need to be mindful of how a changing environment can affect childproofing your modern home.
- Cover power outlets with safety plugs or plastic covers. Teach kids not to stick metal objects into them once they are old enough.
- Lock cabinets that contain cleaning products/poisons or heavy objects, especially if they’re at floor-level.
- Keep sharp objects, such as scissors and knives, out of sight and out of reach. The same goes for medicines.
- When cooking, use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.
- Place safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. Just a reminder not to use the old child ‘walker’ in your Mom’s attic. These are now illegal.
- Secure drapery cords out of the reach of children. Make sure the crib or bed is not within reach of these or electrical cords, outlets, lamps, wall mirrors, or pictures. The ‘Flat Stanley’ story still terrifies me.
- Purchase a soft cover for the bathtub spout to protect kids from painful collisions with the tub spout. You can also make one with washcloths and elastic bands.
- Use tub mats to prevent slipping. Non-slip strips and appliqués are often too widely spaced to protect children. While you’re at it, puffy paint on the bottom of socks will prevent slipping on hard floors.
- Don’t forget the laundry room: 1/3 of laundry rooms are now located near where family members spend most of their time. (Why didn’t we think of this sooner?!?) But…… only 23% of parents who purchase laundry packets count them as a top safety concern. Our family loves them for their effectiveness and convenience, but they are colourful and look appealing to kids. They should always be stored up out of reach and out of sight. Keep them high on a shelf and closed with secure packaging, like the one Tide created with the first-ever new Child-Guard zipper, so you can keep little ones safe.
- Secure screens: Use brackets or push back computer monitors or flat screen TVs so they won’t topple over on top of little ones. Ditto with heavy drawers and shelf units.
- Don’t lose track of tech accessories: Wireless headphones, adapters and other cords can pose a choking hazard. Many are colourful and appealing now, so make sure the kids don’t nibble on them. Be sure to cover plugs boasting the new USB outlets, as these new innovations don’t have ready-made covers yet.
- Store electrical cords: Tuck phone, tablet and laptop chargers behind furniture or above cabinets, especially if you have toddlers in the house.
- Keep remotes hidden away so prying fingers can’t get to batteries. Added benefit: it will drive the ‘remote-control hoarder in the house nuts. Place duct tape over any battery compartment that does not have a safety screw.
- Store plastic storage bags out of children’s reach. Always tie knots in used plastic bags before you recycle them. This will mitigate the risk of accidental suffocation.
- Keep pet food and water bowls away from toddlers and infants.
- Use a covered trash basket, and install a safety latch on the cabinet where it is kept.
- Place a mat in front of the stove, and teach kids that they cannot stand on the mat while you are cooking. A padded, back-friendly one is an extra bonus for the chefs.
For extra tips on childproofing the modern home, we’ve got a great infographic below. Try not to stress too much about perfect childproofing – just use the tools available to you and be smart (as well as modern). You’ve got this.