If your home is undergoing major renovations, it’s not always possible to simply keep the kids away until the job is done. For that reason, there are a few safety practices that every parent should be aware of during home improvements.
1. Talk to your kids about the project
If your kids are old enough, a quick conversation about the project can be enough to prevent most accidents. Talk about any potential dangers from the project, including breathing dust, falling debris. or even just being underfoot when workers are busy. Set clear rules for behavior during the project, and explain why those rules are necessary for safety.
2. Separate the work zone from the rest of the house as much as possible
One of the best rules you can make for kids is simply to stay away from the work zone. This may be more difficult if you’re remodeling your kitchen, but in most cases you can cordon off the zone and make it “off-limits”. Not only will this protect your kids from the dangers in the work zone, it’ll also reduce the likelihood of workers bringing other hazards out of the work zone (spare nails, tacks, shards of tile or masonry, etc.)
3. Ask contractors about their safety practices
If you’ve hired a contractor to perform your renovations, be sure to have a conversation about safety practices before you sign. Find out who the supervisor on site will be, and what kind of insurance the contractor carries. It might go without saying, but you should never hire a contractor who isn’t licensed and accredited—because holding them accountable in the event of negligence or breach of contract will be a lot more challenging.
4. Double-check for construction and demolition waste
When the project is over, clean the area thoroughly. Dust, paint fumes, and other potential toxins and allergens can linger if the area isn’t properly wiped down. (This can be especially problematic for toddlers, who are more inclined to contact walls and floor with their hands and mouth.) Also be on the lookout for large debris that can have jagged edges, as well as exposed nails or carpet tack strips.
5. Don’t forget to restore any childproofing
Be sure to check your childproofing and replace it if necessary. Especially if you’ve had a kitchen or bathroom remodeled, the chemicals under your kitchen sink and bath vanity may not be secured against small children after a project. It’s a small detail, but too often overlooked. Also, make sure any child locks on doorknobs are still present and intact—they’ll be in the line of fire if heavy objects are being carried in and out of the house, and usually aren’t robust enough to take much of a beating.
Mike Freiberg is a staff writer for HomeDaddys, a resource for stay-at-home dads, work-at-home dads, and everything in between. He’s a handyman, an amateur astronomer, and a tech junkie, who loves being home with his two kids. He lives in Austin.