The Family Fortress: Simple Tips to Keep Your Child and Home Safe

The Family Fortress: Simple Tips to Keep Your Child and Home Safe

- in Magazine, May 2014, Parenting

HSAFETY-1Parents are all too aware of the dangers that children may ­encounter beyond the walls of their own home. Yet the real ­dangers exist much closer. A walk down any aisle that ­displays baby and child safety devices illustrates that point — latches and covers and screens and all sorts of items can help protect the most ­vulnerable household members.

From infancy through adolescence, childhood seems like a minefield of accidents waiting to happen. With some simple safety precautions, ­parents can prevent many injuries and poisonings.

Keeping Kids Safe

Each year, more than half of 2.4 million children ages 6 or younger swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Approximately 9 million children from newborn to age 19 go to the emergency room because of injuries — many of which happen at home, and of those, 9,000 die. The reasons range from drowning to suffocation to burns or falls. The ways that children are injured vary, but nonetheless, all can be frightening.

However, that’s the scary news. The good news is that many of these injuries can be avoided with watchful monitoring of your child, along with a few safety devices.

Home Safe Home Inc. is a ­Cleveland-based company that specializes in home childproofing and swimming pool safety. Owner Pat Kinyon says he does home safety evaluations and custom installs childproofing items such as gates and locks to make sure they fit securely.

If you’re a gadget person, the Internet and retail stores offer all types of high-tech baby safety equipment. Several companies sell baby monitors that can be connected to an iPad or a smart phone for easy watchfulness.

Tom Zilt of the Safety Store at University Hospital’s Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, says the store, which is located just within the hospital lobby on the first floor, has a display of safety products such as wall straps, locks, latches, bike helmets, car seats and other items that visitors can buy at the same price the hospital pays for them.

Child’s-Eye View

Although flashy, high-tech baby monitors with videos and other safety equipment offer various ways to protect your child, one of the best ways to childproof your home is also one of the most basic.

“Get down on your hands and knees and take a child’s-eye view of your home,” Zilt says. “Look at the home from that aspect.” He adds sharp table edges, bookshelves that can be easily climbed (and toppled), stove knobs that can be turned on, a loose screen — they all can prove hazardous to a child.

“Many child safety tips are basic: keep medicines and cleaning supplies in locked cabinets, have TVs and shelves securely attached to a wall so a child can’t pull them over,” Zilt continues.

While a visit from family members and friends is a good thing, it can also be unintentionally harmful, depending on what else they are bringing into the home.

“Make sure visitors’ bags — think grandparents — are put in an inaccessible place so any medicines don’t get in the wrong hands,” Zilt says.

In the end, home safety for your children and for yourself is generally a matter of watchfulness and common sense.

“Safety products are a deterrent but they aren’t 100-percent (guaranteed),” Zilt says. “A watchful eye is always best.” 

Protecting Your Home

Keeping babies and children safe is ­important, but keeping your home safe from intruders can be just as important. A secure home can give invaluable peace of mind — and technology is making that security easier than ever.

The FBI’s most recent statistics indicate Americans were victims of more than 2 million burglaries annually, which costs about $4.6 million in lost property. The average loss per burglary was just over $2,000.

Homeowners can take a few basic steps to protect their homes, says Ed Smith of SimpliSafe Home Security Systems, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in easy-to-install security devices. Its products include glass-breaking detectors, wireless systems and numerous other products to make homes secure. Many items, such as surveillance cameras, can be monitored from cell phones and hidden in smoke alarms or other unobtrusive places.

“In today’s age, there are a lot of home invasions,” Smith says. “A lot of times they’re drug addicts looking for a quick, easy way to break in and get something of value. Nine out of 10 calls I get are calls right after the fact.”

The best way to secure your home is to have multiple layers of protection, he says. For starters, lock your home and garage and put away anything that might tempt a thief such as bicycles or lawn equipment. A dog is another great deterrent. Thieves don’t know if the dog is ­vicious and most won’t take a chance. They’ll move along to another house that is an easier target.

A sign that says the home is protected by a security system, whether it’s real or not, can be enough to dissuade a skittish thief, he says.

Child Safety Tips:HSAFETY_86454889

[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Make sure older or hand-me-down cribs meet current safety ­regulations.[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Install a gate at the top and bottom of the stairs.[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Install cabinet latches so children can’t climb drawers to reach countertops or other areas with hazards.

[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Use toilet lid locks. A baby can drown in just 2 inches of water.[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Never leave a child alone in the bathtub.[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Use hearth guards and edge bumpers to help prevent head injuries.[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Install cordless window blinds to prevent strangulation.[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Keep electrical appliances away from water. Install GFI outlets in rooms where water or moisture is present.

[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Lower the temperature of your hot water heater. Temperatures above 120 degrees are a scalding hazard.

[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Safeguard windows and railings. Balusters that are more than 3 inches apart are a ­danger for small children.

[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Don’t warm baby bottles in the microwave. Pockets of scalding liquid can form.

[v_icon color=”#444444″ size=”14px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-home-3″] Install smoke detectors, and check them monthly. Change batteries once a year.

Courtesy of Pat Kinyon of Home Safe Home Inc.

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