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22 Baby Proofing General Issues


This article is from the Baby Proofing FAQ, by Sandra Smith, sandra@cs.toronto.edu with numerous contributions by others.

22 Baby Proofing General Issues

From: Ken Staffan, Eastman Kodak

>I strongly recommend that ... install (GFCI) plugs at all outlets in the
>kitchen, bathroom, ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Actually, you only need one per circuit, installed at the beginning of the
circuit. All down-stream receptacles will be protected. You can also
accomplish this with a ground-fault circuit breaker on those circuits (if
you have breakers). Also, I think the original advice still stands - no
sense testing a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) by actually having
an accident!


Those plastic links available in most toy stores - the ones that are approx
2" long with a slit in one side for linking in others - make good cabinet
latches when strung between handles (until the child learns how to undo them).

Long nylon belts - often marketed as luggage straps, etc., in department
or home improvement stores - work great for strapping shut free-standing
furniture with doors, such as desks or television and stereo cabinets. The
buckle can be twisted around to the back to prevent easy access.

Besides temperature-monitoring faucets, etc., hot water burns can be avoided
by simply turning down the hot water tank thermostat, so that the hottest
water that can come out of a faucet is not hot enough to burn. (I believe
that this is an energy saver, as well).

Tall, heavy furniture can topple and crush a child. Open bookcases are
one of the worst threats, because they can be toppled by a child climbing
up the shelves. This can be made safer by using hooks & eyes to securely
anchor the top of the furniture to the wall.

Be conscious about leaving choking hazards laying around, such as open bowls
of hard candy, loose change, etc.

When taking care of poisons in the kitchen and bathrooms, don't neglect
the basement and garage - there's no time like the present!

Be aware of crib strangulation hazards: bars too far apart (head can
be forced through & caught), loose/long bumper fastening straps (child
can get tangled in straps or caught under bumper), posts or other things
which can hook clothing near the top of the rails or end pieces (child
can be strangled by own clothing).

Watch out for furniture or items which can allow a child to climb up on
to a window sill or above, where the child can put weight on the glass
and/or fall through.

A couple kitchen things:

It's a good habit to get into to push all hazardous objects to the far
back of the counter (e.g. when putting down a knife, etc.)

If no other drawers are child-proofed, the knife drawer is a good one. It's
also a good idea to wash and put away knives as soon as possible after
using them.

Don't tempt fate. It's not worth the risk of carrying the boiling spaghetti
water to the sink, even if you think the child is safely out of the path.
Have someone else pick the child up for a minute, or toss a ball into an
adjacent room to get them out of harms way long enough.

I didn't see many references to outdoor child-proofing, but I though I
might throw in a couple comments:

Outside hazards fall into about 3 categories - natural, such as poison
berries and plants, thorns, well holes, cliffs, water, etc., non-natural,
such as poisons, hot grills, stacked concrete blocks, flaking paint,
tons of stuff in the typical garage, etc., and incidental. The natural
and non-natural are pretty self-explanatory, the incidental, I wanted to
comment on because I've always been embarrassed about a near accident we
had. In this category I would put things like not taking children for
rides on a riding lawn mower, etc. I think it's a fairly good rule to not
have children around at all when power equipment is being used. Our near
accident occurred when my wife and I were installing a new front walk and
stairway (the entrance to the house is on the second level). This involved
moving a lot of dirt, and we were using a tractor and trailer to haul
the dirt around. The baby was safely (!) sequestered a good distance
away, napping in his playpen under a tree. Everything was fine until
a sheared hitch pin sent a trailer full of dirt down the hill, with enough
momentum to make it all the way to the playpen. How close? It tore one
side of the playpen. It took us days to stop shaking, weeks before we
could talk calmly about it, and the feeling of dismay that it happened
has never left. I guess the positive thing we can take away from it is
how hard it is to predict what can happen, and how fast things can happen.
Now, I would put this in the same category as not tempting fate in the
kitchen - the child _can't_ be hurt if he/she isn't there!


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