If your little one is about to graduate to mobile mode it’s high time for a home safety check. Here are some of the main hazards to be aware of and how to keep injuries at bay.
1. Bookcases & shelves
Most bubs are mountaineers in the making before they can even walk. Having scaled the sofa, chances are your little man will start sizing up the bookcase or dresser. With this in mind, fix furniture straps to any items that could topple over before he gets that glint in his eye.
2. Windows & balconies
You’ll also need to move any items that your bub can climb on away from windows and balconies - think pot plants, chairs, and other scalable furniture. Fit window locks and check balconies are at least one metre high. And make sure your child can’t squeeze through any gaps in the railings or use them to gain a foothold.
Tragically one child is run over in the driveway of their own home every week in Australia. Because of their height, children under 5 are especially at risk. Ensure your bub can’t get access to your driveway or garage, don’t use either as a play area, and if you need to move the car and you’re the only adult at home, put him in the vehicle while you move it.
4. Electrical cords & sockets
Babies love chewing and unfortunately they won’t distinguish between a toy and an electrical cord if you leave one lying around. Likewise, their fondness for poking things into holes won’t necessarily stop at wall sockets. To avoid injury, keep power cords wrapped up, pack them away when they’re not in use and put safety caps on any spare electrical outlets.
5. Sharp corners
Chairs, tables, kitchen bench tops and bathroom cabinets; they all have them, and often they’re at just the right height to give a little person a nasty bump on the head – especially when he’s prone to falling over. Suss out the dodgiest ones by getting down to your child’s level and put corner protectors on all those that are sharp or at head height.
Despite the obvious danger (to us at any rate), the allure of stairs is a strong one for any little person intent on discovery. From the moment your bub starts crawling, invest in a set of stair gates: one for the bottom and one for the top. And if you have other kids in the house you’ll need to teach them the importance of closing each gate behind them.
7. Household products/poisons
Each year about 3500 Australian children are hospitalised due to poisoning. Check your home to make sure all substances that pose a poisoning risk – especially common culprits like medicines and cleaning staples – have been stored well out of your child’s reach.
8. Window blind cords
You would never have thought it, but the cords used to open and close curtains and blinds can present a strangulation hazard to small children. To keep your child safe, the Raising Children Network advises wrapping loose cords in cleats attached to the wall at least 1.6 metres above the floor.
9. Kitchen appliances
The kitchen is a major hotspot for inquisitive bubs. Make sure he’s out of harm’s way when you’re using the cooktop and be aware of other potential burn hazards. For instance, try to use just the back burners so pan handles are well out of reach.
10. Pools & water features
Now your little one is mobile, it’s not just at bath time that you need to be aware of the dangers of drowning. Home pools and spas are major hazards, and according to Royal Life Saving, so too are buckets, eskies, fountains, fishponds, drains and even pet bowls – it’s crucial that these are emptied, covered, put away and not left where they can fill up with water, they say.
Of course, one of the keys to preventing accidents in and around the home is to be vigilant. Because even when you think you’ve dealt with all the potential safety hazards, the chances are your bub can still come a cropper from time to time. Keep a watchful eye and try to teach him what’s safe and what’s not as early as possible.
About the author – Jo Sharp
Jo has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Based in Sydney, she covers both business and lifestyle topics and has written numerous articles about pregnancy and parenting. When she’s not glued to her laptop, she can be found out and about in Bondi with her two kids.