Homes in which small children live are typically equipped with a number of specialty products designed to ensure the safety of the children. When visiting the homes of friends and family members however, children are often in environments that are not quite as safe.
Grandparents who regularly host their grandchildren may want to consider taking steps to childproof their homes to help keep the children safe when they visit.
Young children are fascinated by things that seem off limits to them. Because of this, kitchen and bathroom cabinets are favourites of little ones, but they often house things that are unsafe for kids, such as cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, or medicines.
Home improvement shops, as well as those specialising in children’s furniture and equipment, sell a nice selection of cabinet locks. When properly installed, these locks will allow for easy access by adults but will keep little hands from prying the cabinets open.
No mechanism can fully guarantee that a child won’t be able to get into the cabinets. For this reason, grandparents should store hazardous chemicals or other items that pose a risk to their grandchildren in cabinets that are not only locked, but situated high — well out of the reach of small children.
Falls on staircases account for a number of injuries to children each year, some serious. When young children are in the house, safety gates should be installed at both the top and bottom of all stairways, with care being taken to choose the appropriate types for each individual installation.
Gates that are placed at the top of the stairs need to be permanently installed, rather than merely attached with a tension type holding mechanism. Even the best safety gates cannot keep the children from harm if they are not used regularly.
Grandparents should get into the habit of keeping the gates closed even when the children aren’t present so that they won’t accidentally leave the gate ajar in the presence of the grandkids.
Miscellaneous Indoor Safety Considerations
Young children are curious by nature, so if there is an opportunity to get into trouble, they will find it! One of the best ways to provide comprehensive safety-proofing is to get down on the floor to see just what temptations are available to kids.
By crawling around and taking note of the view from down low, grandparents can see what needs improvement, minimising the risks for their visiting grandchildren.
Pet food can pose a choking hazard to babies and young children, so pet bowls should be kept up when it is not feeding time and most experts recommend keeping children away from pets during mealtimes.
Even the best natured animal may snap at a child if they feel threatened, and many are especially protective of their food. In addition to pet food, many other items can prove hazardous to small children by means of choking.
Be sure to keep all low tables clear of coins, keys, pen caps, paper clips, batteries and other objects that may lodge in the small air passages of children.
Outdoor Safety Considerations
When “childproofing,” it is important to include the outdoor areas that children have access to, as well as the inside of the house. Lawn care equipment and other materials such as plant food may be dangerous for children and should be kept in locked cabinets inside the garage.
Grandparents should teach their grandchildren at an early age that the garage is not a play area and is off limits. Most people store a number of hazardous things in the garage, including paints, paint thinner, gas and oil for lawn equipment, and power tools.
None of these are playthings and children need to be kept out of the area.
Additionally, garage doors themselves may pose risks to children, especially older doors which may not be equipped to retract automatically when a child is playing underneath.
Swimming pools or other bodies of water must be viewed as potential dangers for children, and not just the very young. Children must be supervised at all times near the water since drowning accidents can happen in mere minutes.
Proper gates with locking ladders provide an extra layer of protection and their use should be considered mandatory.
Protecting the Vulnerable
Children, although curious, are not equipped with the common sense and knowledge of adults, so they must be well supervised by responsible caregivers.
When grandchildren are left in the hands of their grandparents, parents need to be assured that they will be given the utmost attention and care.
While rules about bedtimes and nutrition may sometimes be bent, matters of safety must be taken very seriously.