Don't forget to childproof your home

THE REAL ESTATE WONK

May 23, 2008|By JAMIE SMITH HOPKINS

Expecting a child? In the flurry of baby preparations, don't forget to childproof your home.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that home hazards kill or injure about 2.5 million children every year. Here's what the commission and others suggest you do to make your house safe:

* Bathrooms: Install a safety latch on the toilet seat and safety covers on the faucet handles - unless you're planning to keep Baby out altogether by putting a latch on the door, suggests the UCSF Children's Hospital in California. Move medicines, cleaners, etc., to high places.

* Kitchen: Whether the contents are dirty or clean, the dishwater should be locked. Install safety latches on drawers and cabinets, but move poisons entirely out of reach, says ServiceMagic, which connects people with home improvement contractors. Put corner and edge bumpers on counters. Remove refrigerator magnets so they can't fall and tempt your child into tasting them. Alternative plan: Put up a baby gate or gates to help prevent unauthorized visits.

* Bedrooms: Make sure you have smoke detectors near bedrooms (and on every level of the home). The commission also recommends checking them frequently - once a month. If you have gas or oil heat or an attached garage, you'll also want to install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas, the commission says.

* Dining room: Beware of tablecloths, ServiceMagic says. If your child tugs, down come the plates, flower vases and everything else.

* Stairs: You'll want baby gates at the top and bottom. A gate that screws to the wall is better for the top of a staircase than one that relies on pressure to work, the commission says. Avoid older gates with "V" shapes in which a child could get his or her head stuck.

* Water: To prevent scalding, the children's hospital recommends you set your home's hot water temperature at no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You could also install anti-scald devices on your faucets and shower heads to keep water from getting too hot, the commission notes.

* Cords: Window blinds, phones, lamps - anything with a hanging cord can be a hazard. Tuck them out of reach. ServiceMagic also suggests cutting blind cords that are long or that form a loop.

* Outlets: Have any unused outlets? Avoid problems by inserting plastic outlet plugs.

* Furniture: Soften sharp edges with corner and edge bumpers.

* Windows/balconies/decks: Keep inquisitive babies from falling by installing window guards or safety netting, the safety commission suggests. Just keep in mind that you'll want at least one window in every room to be accessible for quick escapes in emergency situations.

jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com

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