Is Grandma’s House Dangerous for Grandkids?

Sam Ella  Debbie April 2009By Debra Karplus

What a treat to have the little ones spending the day, or, better yet, staying for a sleepover at Grandma’s house.  You’ve prepared the house with yummy treats and a long list of fun activities to do.  But, there’s no way you can keep your eyes on your grandchildren one hundred percent of the time.

One blink of the eye and a child’s curiosity can get the best of them, potentially putting them in a dangerous situation.  Have you scrutinized your house and backyard lately to make them safe for children?  Many preventable accidents happen at home, even the home of a loving and responsible grandparent like you.

Familiar objects can facilitate falls.

Make sure doors latch properly, and in particular, those leading down stairs.  Little kids seem to be made of rubber sometimes, but falling downstairs for them (or you) could require someone needing to call 911.  Keep stairways safe, and free of clutter.  A nightlight helps maintain a well-lit area for optimal safety.

Throw rugs are handy, and a ride on a magic carpet sounds like funny, but throw rugs are a common way that people, especially older adults, slip and end up with a fractured body part.  Find an alternative to throw rugs that slip around.  Someone could fall, a grandchild or you.

A newly waxed floor looks beautiful enough to appear in your favorite home magazine, but it can be lethal if it’s too slippery.  The same is true of spills, even water, that have not been wiped.  Be diligent about keeping floor surfaces safe.

Put away toxic products to prevent poisoning.

Cleaning the house before your grandchildren arrive?  Make sure any medications, prescription or over-the-counter and even vitamin tablets are stored above reach and out of view.  Some medicines come in pretty colors and resemble candy.  Your grandchildren, especially the younger ones, cannot tell the difference.   

Many cleaning chemicals come in interesting-looking containers. Children may be tempted to touch or taste their contents.  Those little pellets that clean drains resemble colorful beads, but could send your grandchild to the emergency room if swallowed or even touched.     Be sure to keep household products like these in places where children can’t find them.

Don’t forget fire hazards in and around your house. 

Be a responsible grandparent and have fire extinguishers in strategic locations within the house, and be sure your smoke detectors have working batteries in them.  (The same is true for carbon monoxide detectors.)  It’s not likely that you’re a smoker, but do keep matches and lighter fluid that you may use for the outdoor grill or fireplace tucked away and out of reach. 

Candles are great for ambiance and romantic evenings, but not so wonderful to use when little children are present.  Only use candles for birthday cakes and situations where they are safe and supervised.  It’s too easy for decorative candles to be knocked over to cause a dangerous fire.

Do any of our homes have enough electric outlets for all our useful electronic gadgets?  Not likely.  Don’t overload electric outlets with too many extension cords, besides the potential for tripping on them, they’re real fire hazards.  Don’t even be tempted.

Cut the potential for cuts at home.

Scissors and knives are useful objects that most people are dependent on for simple tasks, especially in the kitchen.   The majority of kitchens keep the sharpest knives in a rack sitting on top of the kitchen counter.  Find a creative alternative for storing sharp items when your grandchildren are visiting.

Prepare for a visit from your grandchildren as if OSHA (the federal Occupational and Safety Health Administration) is about to be knocking on your door for an inspection.  Your grandchildren will find safety problems at your house before you do.  Be proactive.

 

Debra L Karplus 3x5Author biography:  Debra Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, teacher, and freelance writer for national magazines, baby boomer, and grandmother of three. She lives in a Midwestern college town.  She has been published in Grand Magazine in the past and is a featured columnist.  Learn more about her at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com

 

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