•Medicines. No matter what age the grandchildren are, lock up all medications. This applies to over-the-counter medications as well as prescriptions. No exceptions-the risk of poisoning or abuse is too high.
•Firearms. Again, age doesn’t matter. Unload and lock up all firearms. Store ammunition separately. Put the key(s) where only you have access. No exceptions.
•Alcohol. See above. Lock it up.
•Poison control. Post the national poison control number: 1-800-222-1222.
•Water heater. Set the temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
•Electrical. Cover all unused outlets with outlet covers or plates. Make sure all lamp- and appliance cords are out of reach.
•Smoke detectors. One outside every room where someone will be sleeping.
•Windows. Install window guards in rooms above the ground floor.
•Houseplants. Many common houseplants are deadly if eaten. Move out of reach.
•Put anything smaller than a ping-pong ball in a safe place-it’s a choking hazard. Knickknacks, coins, jewelry, batteries, candy, decorative stones or marbles, etc.
•Use doorknob covers, hook latches or safety gates to keep children out of rooms you can’t completely grand-proof. Don’t forget doors leading to the garage, outside or the basement.
•Curtain- and blind cords. Tie up or install safety tassels and stops to prevent strangulation.
•Plastic bags. A suffocation risk-store all grocery bags, dry-cleaner bags, garbage, storage and sandwich bags out of reach.
•Stairs. Install safety gates at the top and bottom.
•Fireplaces. Use a fireplace screen. Cover gas valves or remove the key. Hide matches out of reach.
•Furniture. Secure heavy furniture against tipping.
•Children’s furniture/equipment. Check for recalls (some may contain lead paint, for example).
•Cabinets and cupboards. Pots and pans are fun to play with; drain cleaner is not. Install cabinet door safety latches. Check lower cabinets using a hand mirror. You may not remember what’s down there, but a toddler will find it.
•Dishwasher. A preschooler will open the dishwasher and pull out the steak knives. Install a dishwasher lock.
•Stove/range. Keep pot handles turned to the back. Consider removing lower range knobs temporarily.
•Refrigerator. Remove small magnets.
•Trash can. Store behind a closed door or use one with a tight-fitting lid.
•Pet food and water. Toddlers will eat it and drink it. Move pet dishes to where kids can’t reach them but Fido and Fluffy can.
•Tablecloths. What fun to pull down!
•Secure doors to keep toddlers out.
•Stash bath products, toiletries, makeup and first-aid supplies out of reach.
•Make sure you can unlock the bathroom door from the outside.
There are too many hazards for a garage to be effectively childproofed, so make it inaccessible. Secure doors leading from the house.
•Pools and hot tubs. Adult supervision always. Make sure safety devices are working: alarms, gate locks, covers, etc.
•Garden equipment and supplies. Lock garden tools in the garage or shed along with all pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals.
•Outside plants. Many are extremely poisonous. Keep younger children away.
•Vehicles. Keep vehicles locked-children can get trapped in a car. Also, when children are visiting, always be absolutely certain you know exactly where they are before you move your vehicle.
While this list may appear to be a lot of work-and many of the precautions and safety devices do make everyday tasks inconvenient-the well-being of the little ones (and our ability to relax and enjoy their visit) is worth it.
For more information, try checking out these helpful resources.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: www.cpsc.gov
Perfectly Safe products: http://perfectlysafe.stores.yahoo.net
KidSafe Home Safety Products: www.kidsafeinc.com/
Texas A&M University: http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/publications/poison/poison.html
Home & Garden TV: www.hgtv.com/hgtv/gl_plants_other/article/0,,HGTV_3609_1371775,00.html
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: www.recalls.gov/cpsc.html
Find a Professional: www.homecontractors.biz/task.Child-Proofing-Install.40190.html
Baby Proofing Basics: How to Keep Your Child Safe, 2nd ed. (paperback), by Vicki Lansky
The Safe Baby Book by Angela McKenzie
Safe Kids: A Complete Child-Safety Handbook and Resource Guide for Parents by Vivian Kramer Fancher