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Toddler-proof your home

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8 ways to toddler-proof your home against (sometimes hidden) household hazards.

With your toddler’s robustness comes a curiosity that may lead him into all kinds of trouble – decks, balconies, stairs for example, pose serious hazards, water (in a bucket, bowl, toilet, bath, sink, pool or even a puddle) is potentially just as lethal. We pinpoint 8 key danger zones and give the lowdown on safety measures to keep curious kiddos out of harm’s way.

Scope ‘em out

Childsafe, a campaign by the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Southern Africa, advises that parents get down on their knees (toddler level) and identify risks and hidden danger spots in every room of your home. Wherever possible remove the hazard or decide how you’re going to guard against it. 

Plug pointers

Some small folk can’t resist sticking their fingers into newly discovered ‘holes’ so it’s important to protect plug points. Cover sockets that are not in use with safety plugs or heavy furniture and keep electrical cords short and out of reach so that they cannot be pulled.

Furniture and fixtures

Every year an alarming number of children under the age of 10 are injured when furniture and appliances have tipped over on themGadgets and décor accessories can be real hazards: push your television, radio, picture frames and lamps to the back of the furniture they're on or move them out of reach, put weightier items on bottom shelves and in lower drawers to make furniture more topple-over proof. Cover sharp furniture corners with bumpers to soften your child’s impact should she fall.

Get a gate

A safety gate is a great way to contain your wee wanderer. A gate that screws into the wall is ideal, it’ll be more secure than one that relies on pressure to stay put, and it’s unlikely your child will be able to dislodge it. 

Choking and suffocation

Childsafe says, “Every year more than 100 children under five years die from choking and suffocation. Many more are saved just in time.” Keep an eye out for tiny objects your toddler could choke on – coins, marbles, beads, buttons, bits of torn plastic – and remove paper clips and other small objects from low drawers or cupboards. Plastic bags can be lethal, teach your kids that they should never put them over their heads – tie knots in your bags as an extra precaution. Be vigilant about dangling cords on blinds or curtains.

Poison protection

Medicines, household products, fertilisers and garage goods are potentially fatal concoctions for a little person. The safest solution? Keep toxic substances locked away. Toddlers love to explore with their mouths and they can climb! If you suspect your child has swallowed something noxious contact your nearest Poison Information Centre childsafe right away.

Drowning dangers

Being conscious of water safety in the home is imperative. Never leave small children alone in the bath, empty buckets or basins unless you are watching over your child, ensure your pool is adequately and securely child-proofed, and always be alert to possible drowning dangers – a child can drown in less than 2 centimetres of water.  

Fire fire!

Keep a fire extinguisher in an easy-to-get-to place and check that it works. Talk to your kids about fire risks and awareness and make an evacuation plan that you can practice regularly. 

In case of emergency

  • Keep a list of emergency numbers close to the phone.
  • First-aid knowledge can save lives so take a course.
  • A well-stocked first-aid box is a household essential – see Sister Erika’s recommendations here. 

For a comprehensive list of child safety measures around the home visit the Childsafe website.

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