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It’s quite likely that at some point in your life will you have children in your house, whether they may be your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or your friends’ children. It’s easy for us to forget just how many hazards there are in our houses, and the kitchen in particular is filled with objects that are potentially very dangerous. If you are going to have children in your house it’s important to child-proof your home to make sure that no accidents occur that could have been avoided. We have put a guide together for you on how to child-proof your kitchen.
As children the whole world and the objects in it are a mystery, which is why children are so keen to investigate absolutely everything. Infants explore things with their mouths, so you need to be sure that there is nothing lying about that could cause any harm i.e. objects that are small enough to swallow, sharp objects, dirty objects or poisonous/chemical based substances. Until they are at least seven months old, babies don’t have full use of their fingers and hands which is why they use their mouths as a substitute. Toddlers and babies learn about their environment by sucking and chewing; it’s this natural curiosity that makes it imperative that you stay on top of home maintenance.
It’s not just babies and toddlers you need to prepare your kitchen for; children of all ages are likely to incur accidents due to their inexperienced, naive curious nature. The best thing you can do to protect them is put precautions in place to prevent these accidents from occurring.
1. Chemicals and cleaning products – It goes without saying that you don’t want your children anywhere near hazardous chemicals, especially youngsters who are in the habit of putting anything and everything they find in their mouths. The kitchen and bathroom are the two rooms in every house that you are likely to find a hoard of cleaning products, many of which are bleach based. It’s not just children putting these chemicals in their mouths that you need to worry about; if they manage to get a bleach based product on their skin it is likely to burn.
Solution – Keep all cleaning products and chemicals safely locked away in a cupboard that is out of reach. Just putting products in the cupboard under the sink isn’t good enough – ensure that this cupboard is secured with a child-proof lock or safety latches.
2. Doors: fridge, freezer, appliances and cupboards – We’ve all done it, both as children and as adults and we know how excruciatingly painful it can be to close your fingers in a door hinge. The curiosity of children leads to exploration and your cupboards and fridge are no exception!
Solution – Install safety latches on doors to prevent children from opening them. Not only does this avoid trapped fingers but it also prevents them from reaching whatever is inside.
3. Children’s toys – Children rarely tidy away after themselves so if you have children or grandchildren, abandoned toys strewn across the floor will soon become a familiar sight. These misplaced toys are an accident waiting to happen; these tripping hazards are not only a danger to children but also to anyone else in the household.
Solution – Have a designated toy box for the children to store their toys in after use. Do your best to teach them to tidy up after themselves, but you will also have to do the rounds and have a quick toy gathering session every now and then yourself.
4. Kitchen appliances – It goes without saying that kitchen appliances can be dangerous, to both children and adults. An action as simple as removing a piece of bread wedged in the toaster can be a threat to our safety if not handled in the correct manner. The amount of people that have attempted to resurrect a piece of lodged toast with a metal knife is staggering. Also, we are all aware of the danger combination of electricity and water, but children are not so familiar with how hazardous this can be. With the amount of electrical appliances near the kitchen sink, you need to be extra vigilant, putting plenty of precautions in place.
Solution – Always keep appliances out of reach and pushed to the back of the worktop. Appliances that don’t need to be on the work surface should be put away into a secure cupboard/drawer after use. Also, it is good practice to unplug fixed appliances that are not in use such as the microwave and toaster.
5. Door handles – Cupboard and draw handles come in all shapes and sizes, but the majority protrude. On at least one occasion we have probably all bruised our leg or hip on a door handle, but imagine if you were 3-4 foot shorter and your head was at handle height; that bruise on your hip would become a bump on your head! Head injuries are notoriously dangerous, and although not all bumps and bruises are sinister it is far better to avoid injuries altogether to look after your child’s wellbeing.
Solution – Replace your door handles with round edged handles that are as flat to the door/cupboard/drawer as possible. Alternatively as a temporary measure, use tennis balls to cover handles and sharp edges – using a knife make an incision and cut a line down one side of the tennis ball, then pop it over the handles.
6. Food and drink – There is an age limit on alcohol for good reason, and you definitely don’t want your children having an innocent swig of wine having mistaken it for Ribena! It’s not just alcohol you need to keep tabs on; we are what we eat, and children love sugary foods! Whether that may be cakes, sweets, chocolate, you name it, sugar should definitely be rationed.
Solution – Make sure that all alcohol is locked away securely, out of reach. If you are enjoying a glass of wine or any alcoholic beverage, don’t turn your back on it! Either take it with you if you leave the room or put the glass somewhere out of reach. Invest in a secure cookie jar or designate a sweet cupboard, secured with a safety latch. Then hide all sweet treats away from prying eyes and determined hands.
7. Plug sockets – Children are unfamiliar with the dangers of electricity and have yet to learn about conductors, therefore the chance of them poking a plug socket with any object available; be that a finger or a metal fork, is very likely.
Solution – Invest in safety caps to cover ALL plugs in the house; this includes the sockets out of reach, because children love to pretend everything is a climbing frame!
8. Drawers – Similarly to cupboards, children are likely to open and explore the interior of drawers if given half the chance. You don’t want them doing this for three good reasons:
1. They may climb and fall from the drawers.
2. They will explore objects inside the drawer with their hands and/or mouth.
3. They are likely to trap their fingers in the drawer, resulting in tears.
Solution – Install safety latches on all drawers and make sure that any hazardous content is located in drawers high up, out of reach.