Outlet covers should be installed regardless of the room you're childproofing.

A Worksheet for How to Child Proof a Room

by Christina Schnell

You wouldn't be the first parent who's considered permanently attaching a helmet to your child's head. Between the poor coordination, boundless curiosity and relatively low understanding of danger, toddlers are basically waiting victims of accidental injury. Yet there are some very simple and basic measures you can take to spare yourself a lot of ear-splitting screams and trips to the emergency room. Following a basic childproofing worksheet helps you identify the most serious dangers without wrapping your tyke in bubble wrap.

1. Protect Against Common Dangers

Each room in your home contains a different set of dangers--lucky you! But here are a few basic hazards that apply to almost every room: falls, burns and electrocution. In the bathroom, falls often occur on slippery surfaces, therefore, laying several textured mats around the bathroom is essential. Falls from stairs are especially serious, but can be easily prevented by installing a sturdy, screw-in baby gate. Install scald-proof faucets in the bathroom and protect tiny fingers from powerful outlets by attaching covers on each electrical outlet.

2. Shrink Down

Fall short and start shrinking. Get on your child's eye-level and crawl or walk around the room. What are some things you see that you know your toddler would be drawn to that are within easy reach? For example, if your child loves opening and closing doors, he may find the lower cabinets, including those containing cleaning supplies irresistible. In this case, attach protective tabs or locks on each of the lower cabinets. Children see everything as play tools, which means low-hanging drape cords should be raised so they don't become a swinging apparatus, or a strangulation hazard. Block computer motherboards and streams of colorful wires with furniture, or by securing them to the wall, well above your child's reach.

3. Think Long-Term

Thankfully, your 3-year-old knows better than to stick a play fork in an electrical outlet, but don't worry, kids are especially creative when it comes to finding ways to injure themselves! For example, your 2-year-old might not be strong enough to reach the television stand, but in another year he could easily knock a poorly secured flat-screen on to himself. While your little one is still toddling gingerly about, mount the flat-screen directly to the wall and install locking straps on bookshelves and other potential tipping hazards.

4. Prioritze

Try as you might, it's impossible to childproof everything at once, which is why you must address the biggest dangers first. When considering what to childproof first rank the dangers in order of priority. For example, if you're childproofing a kitchen, a device that prevents your child from opening a low-level oven is probably more urgent than the toaster sitting all the way on the back of a 4 1/2-foot high counter-top. Baby gates, to guard against falls on stairways, are always essential.

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