Baby-Proofing Your Home

Taking the time to "baby-proof" your home can help avoid many preventable home injuries. Parents, grandparents, baby sitters, and others that the baby frequently visits should complete a thorough home inspection for potential hazards. Suffocation, falls and burns are among the leading causes of child fatalities in the home. It's important you take the following precautions to properly baby-proof your home.

Never leave infants under one year, alone with a family pet. Choose a family pet that tolerates children. Research breeds to find one that is appropriate for your family.
Take precautions to prevent burns. Babies and children are more susceptible to burns than adults are. Set the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees F or lower. Never hold a child while cooking over the stove. Never drink hot beverages or soup with a child sitting on your lap. Fireplaces, wood stoves and radiators must be screened.
Watch out for choking hazards. Anything that fits inside a child's mouth can be a danger. Food, toys, and other small objects that can get lodged in a child's airway usually cause choking. When buying toys, always follow the manufacturers age recommendations. Do not give a child under age four any hard or smooth foods that can partially or completely block the windpipe.
Beware of electrical hazards. Cover all electrical outlets that are not in use with safety plugs that snap into outlets. Keep fans high, out of baby's reach. Don't use extension cords unless absolutely necessary. Unplug all appliances (hair dryers, irons, electric razors, and kitchen appliances) when not in use.
Keep medication out of children's reach. Keep them securely locked at all times - out of sight and out reach. Make sure medicines are in child-resistant containers. Don't save old prescription medicines. Flush them down the toilet when you are finished using them. Never leave vitamins, aspirin or other medications on the kitchen table, counter tops, bedside tables, or dresser tops.
Store sharp objects properly. Keep knives, forks, scissors, and other sharp tools in a drawer with a safety latch. Store appliances with sharp blades (like blenders or food processors) in a locked cabinet.
Keep children a safe distance away while working in the kitchen. Whenever possible, they should be at a distance when loading and unloading the dishwasher. The kitchen garbage can should be behind a cabinet door with a safety latch. Keep drinking glasses and bowls in a high cabinet far from reach.
Make sure there are no loose rugs on the floor. Put specially designed pads under rugs to hold them securely to the floor's surface.
Install hardware-mounted safety gates at the top of stairs. Avoid pressure-mounted and accordion-type gates which can trap a child's head.
Store household cleaning products and aerosol sprays in a high cabinet far from reach. Don't keep any cleaning supplies under the sink, including dishwasher detergent and dishwashing liquids. Never put cleaning supplies in old soda bottles or containers that were once used for food. Keep hazardous automotive and gardening products in a securely locked area in your garage.
Don't leave alcoholic drinks where children can reach them. Keep bottles of alcohol in a locked cabinet far from a child's reach. Be mindful that many mouthwashes contain alcohol in them.
If you have an older house, have the paint tested for lead. Do not use cribs, bassinets, highchairs, painted toys, or toy chests made before 1978; these may have a finish that contains dangerously high lead levels.
Prevent strangulation by avoiding and/or modifying certain garments, such as, drawstring hoods, jackets, mittens and waistbands in your child's wardrobe. Clip strings or ribbons off hanging mobiles and other crib toys. In fact, strings on crib bumpers should be no longer than six inches.
Always tie up window blind cords so they are out of reach. Cut the cords so there is no loop at the bottom, then secure them with clothespins or specially designed cord clips.
Never place an infant face down on soft bedding, such as a waterbed, quilt, sheepskin rug, or mattress cover. The same holds true for any type of soft pillow, such as a beanbag or bead-filled pillow. Avoid large stuffed animals as well.
Promptly dispose of plastic shopping bags and plastic dry-cleaning bags. Tie several knots in each bag before throwing it out.