Who doesn’t want to protect the most vulnerable among us? Our kids, our grand kids, our friend’s kids. Nobody would turn down an opportunity to grab a child’s hand just before it touches that hot stove burner! Or how about trying to ignore the kid on his way to the space heater in the middle of the room? Of course not – we would all lunge to stop the pain before it happens to avoid the horrible pain and trauma that would happen. So why do so many of us not child proof our homes better? I can’t answer the question for you specifically but I can tell you that for me, with 5 kids and 13 grand kids, child proofing is not an after-thought but a mission that has become a cause.
When he was about 18 months,fast as lightning, and before anyone could react, one of my grandsons put his hand the on the grill of a lit propane heater and had to be rushed to the emergency room with severe burns to his hand. He’s 20 years old now and fortunately doesn’t remember the accidental burn. It was called an accident, but if you think about it, it was more of an unintentional injury and not really an accident. He didn’t trip on a toy and fall into the heater, he intentionally, not knowing any better, touched it. This was preventable. It wasn’t obvious at the time, but ever since, the heater either was not used, or blocked off from being available to touch.
You can read all the books and take all the classes and follow the gurus, but face it, we all know that raising kids is not an exact science or an abstract art form; but is it the most important job in this world. Homemakers who are full-time moms know exactly what this means. Full time moms also know that even 60 seconds can be the difference between joyful playtime and a sorrowful funeral a few days later; especially if a little water is involved. Every kid is unique and different which makes each and every one of them special. We can’t afford to lose even one! If it ever happens to you after you’ve read this article, you have no excuse!
We want you to know you are responsible for NOT child proofing your home. You don’t have to have children of your own to be liable. Your neighbors, your friends, your relatives most likely have children that may visit your home. God forbid that one of those little toddlers gets under your kitchen sink and loves the taste of that toxic cleaner you use! Even if you went “green” on your cleaning products, they are still very harmful to toddlers. The rule is, you are responsible for everything that goes on in your home. “Accidents” are not exceptions to that rule. You are culpable if a child has an unintentional injury in your home because of your negligence in not child proofing and you will be held responsible; at the least by the parents if not by law at most.
Some facts to know:
- Injury is the leading cause of death in children (and young adults as well). According to the CDC, approximately 12,000 children and young adults, ages 1 to 19 years, die from accidental & unintentional injuries each year.
- Falls are the leading cause of injuries for children. Children ages 19 and under account for about 8,000 fall-related visits to hospital emergency rooms every day – yes– EVERY DAY!
- Each year about 100 children are killed and 254,000 are injured as a result of bicycle-related accidents. Riding without protective gear contributes highly to this statistic.
- Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4. The majority of drownings and near-drownings occur in residential swimming pools and in open water sites. However, children can drown in as little as one inch of water; that means your bathtub, toilet and large dog water bowls!
- Suffocation (airway obstruction injury) the leading cause of accidental death among infants under age 1.
- Each year, about 2,000 children ages 14 and under die as a result of a home injury. Accidental home injury deaths to children are caused primarily by fire, burns, suffocation, drowning, firearms, falls, choking, and poisoning.
Now let’s look on the bright side of these issues. Many of these so-called accidental issues, could have been prevented! Prevention is broken into several categories. I’m going to discuss toddlers here although much of this applies to all children. Number one prevention is making harmful items inaccessible. Lock up cabinets that are on their level of access. Move harmful items to a height above their access level. When babies can only crawl, they can only reach a very low-level. They can’t reach cabinet handles and door knobs. Once they are walking,they can now get into every lover cabinet and open doors that have the lever type handles. They can also get on the kitchen chairs to take your colorful and inviting “candies” (medicines) in your pretty pill-box; after all, they see you take them everyday. In their minds, it must be good!
Since this article is not intended as a reference manual on child proofing, I won’t go into much detail about how to protect every age of child you cold have in your home. However, I am going to mention some products in following articles that serve this purpose well.
I’d like to recommend that you get on your knees right now and move around your kitchen. ( I bet you thought I was going to tell you to pray – well, that can only help!) Then, make a mental note about every available and accessible cabinet door at the height your are when on your knees. If you can reach it with one hand while the other hand is still on the floor, it is a risk for a curious toddler or preschooler in your home. Make a written list when you finish the room. Now do it again for each bathroom, each bedroom, living room dining room and any other rooms. Your knees may be sore now, but your should have a pretty comprehensive list to work from to start toddler proofing right now.
If you are handy, with your list in hand, go to your nearest home improvement center and buy door locks, drawer locks, door knob shields, etc. and install them all immediately. If you are not so handy or you are more comfortable writing a check than turning a screwdriver, then call a professional child proof consultant, like me.
I will come to your home and survey it for you, provide you with a full action plan that you can use to implement child safety in your home. It will be detailed and you can choose the level of protection that is right for you. I don’t use the junk products that you may find at the dollar store. However, some of the plastic items only need to be strong enough to keep toddlers away and not necessarily strong enough to keep a teenager out! We don’t make your home teenager proof at all! Although a few of our recommendations may deter them. If you have a safe, they should not know the combination.
A few questions to ask yourself:
- Where do you keep your prescription medicine supplies?
- Where do you keep your daily prescription meds?
- Where do you keep your cold medicines and cough meds?
- Where are your weapons stored?
- Where is your ammunition stored?
- Where do you store your liquor?
- Are there any toxic items stored under your bathroom and kitchen sinks?
Now do something about your wrong answers to the above questions.
Stop the presses! I have to add this. Just as I thought I was about to end this article, my 2-year-old grand-daughter walked into my office while removing a pink capsule from her mouth! It was my prescription med that I forgot to take this morning and inadvertently left on the kitchen table this morning. Neither my wife nor I saw it all day long. But she found it! THIS COULD HAVE HAD TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES!
If this had gone tragic, I can only imagine my son and daughter-in-law reacting to my stupidity for the rest of my life!