Childproofing your home

Childproofing your home isn’t only for experts but do-it-yourselfers can to it themselves. You can make your home a nicer place to live, and safer too for your children.

Childproofing a home requires a few minutes of time, a few simple tools and a few ounces of elbow grease. But the return on your investment can be phenomenal – because infants and toddlers spend more time at home than older children, they’re more likely to be injured at home than at the playground or at school.

Childproofing your home concern areas

There are basically four areas that home improvers can take preventative measures, said the experts: Falls, poisonings, fires and drownings.There are numerous commercial devices for each category available at home improvement stores and most cost a few dollars and are fairly easy to install.

Falls are one of the most common ways kids are injured and stairs are the major culprit for falls. For kids who are too young to navigate stairs, install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

There are other concern areas that you need to keep in mind and out of reach of children: laundry detergent and household chemicals, medicines, drugs and other medical equipment.

Childproofing your home – Handrails and lights

Make sure that handrails are solid on both inside and outside stairs. Tighten existing handrails or install new ones to replace worn handrails. Also, make sure stairways are well lit. It’s a good idea to have a light switch at the top and bottom of a stairwell. And lower a light switch so that a youngster can reach it. Otherwise, kids will climb on top of something to reach the switch, increasing their chances of a fall.

Keep steps in good shape. Make any necessary repairs, such as a worn tread or coverings or loose boards, immediately. If you have finished wood steps, consider covering the tread with no-slip plastic strips to make them less slippery.

Childproofing your home – Stairs and steps

If you have concrete steps outside, paint them with a non-slip type of paint to make them less slippery, especially when wet. Out on the deck, there are several steps home improvers can take to make decks safer.


If you’re building a deck, install the side rails to the standard for cribs – about two and 5/8 inches apart. That prevents a toddler getting their head through the rail.
To prevent falls down deck steps, install a lockable gate at the top of the steps. Also, make sure you maintain the deck to alleviate slivers.

Swing sets and play areas

If you’re installing a swing set outdoors, make sure you locate it at least six feet or more away from things so children can’t hit anything. Anchor the swing set securely so it can’t be tipped over, and make sure protruding bolts are covered with cap nuts or tape or dabs of caulk, so if the kids fall against them, they won’t get hurt. Also, lubricate any moving parts and replace ropes and chains that are old and deteriorating.

Bathrooms and showers

Inside, install grab bars and no slip strips in baths and showers to also help prevent falls. You can also install springs or automatic hydraulic door closers on interior doors leading to basements to make sure they close behind you, alleviating possible falls down basement steps.


Finally, be cognizant of your children around open windows. Don’t put a sofa right in front of a window so a child can climb up to the window and lean against a screen. There are also window bars that you can install into the window that will alleviate falls but can also be opened in case of a fire. Burglar stops for windows will also do the same job.

As you consider buying a home, think about the inspector you are going to hire and make sure to mention to him or her that you have small children so that the inspector can point out the problem areas in the home.

For more information on home inspectors, you can see more videos on Ilyce’s YouTube channel.

Poisonings, Fire and Shock Prevention

The best way to avoid any accidental poisonings is to remove toxic materials from your home or lock them up in a childproof cabinet. Commercial locks for doors and drawers are well-built and definitely last a long time. They usually install with a few screws or just clip on.
About the best measure to prevent any injuries from fires is to install smoke detectors on every living level of the home, said the experts. Change the battery twice a year and test them every month or so.

Hot water heaters and water temperature

Also, turn down hot water heaters to 120 to 130 degrees to minimize the risk of scalding. Electrical shock can be prevented by installing switch plate covers over open electrical outlets.

Electrical outlets

There are also permanent outlet covers that you can buy and install for electrical cords that are always plugged in – such as a cord for a lamp or stereo. The covers prevent the kids from pulling the plugs out and putting something in the outlet.

by Jim Sulski