We recently received this informative article from Roxanne Porter (www. nannyjobs.org). With the holidays coming up, it’s wise to brush up on these suggestions, as some of you will have little visitors, and your house may not be properly “child-proofed.” For those parents of little ones, these suggestions are to be followed every day, as there is nothing more important than the safety of our children.
When a child reaches the toddler stage, there are a whole range of precautions that need to be taken into account in order to assure safe play times and places. Here are 10 commandments to bear in mind for keeping toddlers safe while playing.
- Secure all Straps and Handles. Toddlers love to reach and grab, so any heavy or dangerous items with straps or handles should be secured out of their reach. Purses, backpacks, pots & pans, or anything that may be grabbed and used to pull an object down on top of a toddler needs to be accounted for.
- Keep Unused Rooms Locked. Any room that is not expected to be played in, or that has not been “toddler-proofed” should be locked in order to keep toddlers from wandering in. Just closing doors is not likely to be effective, as toddlers are notoriously curious and prone to exploration.
- Employ Baby Gates and Toddler-Latches. Open stairways or passageways into unsecure areas without doors should be blocked with baby gates. Cabinets and drawers that contain potentially dangerous items need to be secured with the types of latches that are meant to keep toddlers from pulling them open.
- Secure Electrical Outlets and Cords. Any room that a toddler may play in should have all electrical outlets covered, and all electrical cords secured in such a way that they can’t be chewed on or unplugged. Also, be aware that electrical cords can be used to pull a lamp or other appliance off of a table. It’s a good idea to get down on the floor and inspect the entire room from toddler level, in order to assure that all electrical sources are inaccessible.
- Cover or Remove Sharp Corners. All furniture or decorative items in a toddler’s play room should be examined for sharp corners and edges that may be fallen against or that may be at a level to injure a toddler’s head. Look underneath tables, plant stands, etc., for metal brackets or screws that may project and be hazardous to a child that crawls or walks under them.
- Remove Hinged Toy Box Lids. Toy boxes should be open, or with covers that may be removed and set aside. Hinged lids pose a danger in two ways; the possibility of slamming shut on tender fingers or the head of a child looking in the box, and the chance that a child might crawl inside and be trapped when the lid falls shut.
- Secure all Bathrooms. Bathrooms are full of things that can be dangerous to toddlers. Toilets and bathtubs are potential drowning hazards for curious children, cleaning utensils are likely to have chemical or bacteria residues, and cleaning products are usually toxic.
- Beware of Choking/Poison/Burn/Laceration Hazards. Any room that is meant for child’s play needs to be closely inspected for anything that a child might put in his or her mouth and present a danger of choking or poisoning. Fireplaces and stoves should be blocked off from toddlers, and anything that may present a danger of puncture or laceration wounds should be removed. Outside play areas should be inspected just as thoroughly.
- Inspect/Secure Sandboxes Before Play. Sandboxes should be covered when not in use, but should also be inspected before a child is allowed access for play. Small animals such as cats may find them handy for waste elimination duties, or, depending on where you live, potentially dangerous creepy-crawlies could find them a comfortable place for hiding.
- EYES ON! Although all of the first 9 listed here are important, this is the most important commandment of all when it comes to safe toddler play. Keep eyes on the child, and ears tuned in the small moments when you might lose sight of a child. They move fast, and disasters can happen as quickly as the time it takes to send a brief text message to a friend.
Keep these 10 commandments in mind, and you will reduce the chances for a toddler in your care to be injured. An eleventh commandment would be to always keep a phone handy for a 911 call, as even the most meticulous attention to the commandments above is not going to assure 100% safety for toddlers.
I would like to add two more suggestions: be sure your parked car doors are locked. Toddlers love to try to get inside the car and play. Be sure to lock the doors when you park your car and remind your visitors to, as well. Getting out of a hot car may be more difficult than getting into one. Also, keep a first aid kit handy; you never know when you might need it!
Thank you, Roxanne, for these reminders. You can read more excellent information on child safety at http://www.nannyjobs.org/blog.