Childproofing Your Home

Danger is your baby's middle name. As she begins to crawl throughout your home in search of new adventures and discoveries, she will invent new ways of getting herself into trouble. You and your partner need to serve as your young adventurer's scouting party: Explore the terrain first and eliminate anything that poses a serious threat to your baby's health and safety.

Fire Fighters


Never ever leave your child alone in a room with a space heater or an electric fan on. For that matter, don't even leave him alone if the space heater or fan is off, unless you have unplugged it and put an outlet cover over the electric outlet.

Do you have a working smoke detector on every floor of your home? You should. Fire safety depends on early warning and planning for an emergency. If you haven't yet mapped out fire escape routes from every room of your home, do it now. You should also keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and perhaps one on every other floor of your home, too.

You have to have heat in your home, but heat sources can sometimes get very hot themselves, posing a serious risk of burning. The most dangerous source of heat is a portable space heater. Don't use one at all if possible. If you really need a space heater, avoid the type that features electric bars or coils that will attract your baby with their glowing reddish-orange color.

Any open radiators also pose a danger. In the winter, they get scorching hot, so get guards or covers that will keep your baby's hands away from them. If you have a fireplace, make sure the fire screen fits securely into place. Store fireplace matches on the mantle and other matches high out of your baby's reach.

Shock Treatment


Carry some outlet covers in your baby's diaper bag so that you can use them for any extended visits with grandparents or friends who don't have babies of their own.

Electric outlets pose a significant danger because most are located right at the level of your crawling baby's eyes. Make it impossible for her to shock herself (or worse) by sticking anything in an outlet. Any outlet not being used should be shielded with a plastic outlet cover. Outlets that are used can also be protected from your baby's curiosity. Special outlet safety boxes that fit over both the plug and the outlet will prevent your baby from pulling the plug.

Loose electric cords can also be hazardous. If your crawler's hands or feet get tangled up in the cord, she can unwittingly pull a lamp or other appliance down on top of her. If she can grab a loose cord, she can also deliberately pull a clock or iron down from a table or counter. Even more dangerous, your baby may suck or chew on an exposed electric cord-which can cause shocks, serious burns, and even start a fire.

Keep all electric cords out of reach if possible. Thread them behind furniture and under rugs as much as you can. Those that need to remain exposed should be secured with tape or special electric cord staples. You can also tie up any excess length of cord with rubber bands.

If an electric cord looks cracked or frayed, replace it immediately. Make sure the rest of the electrical system is safe and up-to-date, too. All electric outlets and appliance cords should be grounded (use three-holed sockets for three-pronged plugs).

More on: Babies


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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