How to Childproof Your Home

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIA

Life gets hectic during the holidays. But whatever else you have on that ‘to-do’ list put this first: childproof the house! If children get a hold of the wrong household objects, they can be seriously injured. Don’t spend your holidays in the emergency room. Take a few precautionary steps now to protect your children so they, too, can enjoy the season.

The kitchen is one of the most dangerous rooms in your home. Unless you can supervise them carefully, keep them out.

But just in case your kids do sneak into the kitchen when you’re not looking:

• Keep hot foods and beverages away from the edges of counters and tables and don’t place them on top of tablecloths or place mats.

• Unplug the beater or other electrical appliances, wrap up the cords and put them away. Your children should not have access to any “live” electrical appliance cords. Also, place covers over all electrical outlets. Both cords and outlets are sources of electric shock.

• Use back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove when cooking.

• Put guards on stove knobs so your children cannot turn them on when you’re not looking.

As you know, children can get hurt in any room of the house, not just the kitchen. So for their protection:

• Don’t let children under 4 have hard candies, nuts or similar seasonal foods. Hard, round foods such as candies, nuts, grapes, popcorn, raw carrots and even raisins can get lodged in children’s throats and block the passage of air through their wind-pipes.

• Pick up after yourself once you’ve finished making holiday decorations. Small crafting items such as safety pins, buttons and tacks should not be left within your children’s reach because they can swallow and choke on them.

• Keep children away from tree lights and other electrical decorations. These items can shock or electrocute curious kids. Lights also are a fire hazard, so keep them away from gifts, paper ornaments, curtains and drapes. If you have very small children, you might consider skipping the electrical lights on your Christmas tree.

• Keep Menorahs and other candle holders and candle decorations well out of the reach of children. Flickering flames fascinate young ones, and they can easily burn themselves or start fires.

• Choose toys for infants and small children with care. Make certain that what you give them is too big, and has parts that are too big to get caught in their throats, noses or ears. Also avoid toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings and cords. And don’t give older children toys that might be dangerous to their younger siblings.

• Don’t buy your kids electric toys that are not UL/FM approved.

• Keep alcoholic beverages out of the reach of your children. A child does not have to drink much to get alcohol poisoning. Remember to clean up half-empty glasses after a party.

• Learn CPR and First Aid.

During the holidays, you should also take extra care to protect those “kids” who have four legs and a tail. Pets are susceptible to many of the same holiday dangers as children. Take the same precautions in the holiday season to protect your pet as you do to protect your children.

Some of the safety tips on keeping your children safe at home were provided by the National Safe Kids Campaign. For more information on keeping your children safe, visit www.safekids.org.

For more home safety tips, contact www.bia-hawaii.org or visit www.nahb.org.

Karen Nakamura is executive vice president/ CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.