Making sure your home is safe for your baby or children is not a luxury, and according to international child safety expert and advocate and co-founder of child safety brand Dreambaby, Carolyn Ziegler, as more and more families are being raised in rental accommodation, it's now an urgent issue.
She suggests getting down on all fours to look up at the world from the point of view of a crawling child. "It’s amazing the hidden dangers you will identify, including dropped medicines, a poison hazard – and coins – a choking hazard."
Bathrooms present a room full of danger, Carolyn advising people to take the following precautions:
Close the bathroom door when not in use and ideally block off the entrance with a child safety gate. You can buy pressure-mounted gates such as the Chelsea Gate, that doesn’t require drilling into walls. You can further protect against damage by using a Protect-A-Wall on the upper part of your gate.
Set the hot water at a maximum of 37 to 38 degrees and never leave your child alone in the bath – children can drown in seconds in just a few centimeters of water.
Keep medicines/toxic substances up and out of reach in a locked cabinet. Use bath mats to help stop accidental falls and slips in the bath and secure toilets with a latch, as toilet water can be full of harmful germs and chemicals.
“If you are in an apartment and are lucky enough to have outdoor space make sure you lock your balcony doors at all times," says Carolyn. Never leave furniture on balconies or even potted plants – kids can use these as climbing aids and potentially launch themselves up and over railings.
Always install window locks that limit windows from opening more than 10cm (you want to have some air circulation though, especially during summer when small children can overheat in hot rooms). Secure flyscreens, as children can easily push them out or fall through them.
Prams and strollers can be a tripping hazard, so get them off the floor using a pram hanger when they're not in use.
Move cots and beds away from windows and install blind cord wraps, as dangling cords are a strangulation hazard.
As well as blocking off the entrance with a pressure-mounted gate, Carolyn suggests you install adhesive locks and latches throughout the kitchen and secure kitchen corner drawers or cabinets with Dreambaby’s Adhesive Angle Locks.
Use a refrigerator latch to keep children away from alcohol and medicines, and secure your dishwasher as there are often traces of cleaning tablets and solutions after a wash.
Securing heavy furniture
“There is nothing more dangerous than heavy drawers and TVs falling on small children," says Carolyn. "Unfortunately, kids love to use drawers as stairs for climbing with often tragic results. Today’s furniture is often designed with all the decorative heavy parts at the front, so it’s simple physics they will topple over.”
Carolyn recommends securing furniture and TVs with furniture straps and anchors or TV savers, ensuring you read the instructions carefully. While TV Savers can be attached to furniture rather than walls (so no drilling is required), furniture anchors and straps do need to be drilled into walls. “Negotiate with your landlord on this, as it’s so important," says Carolyn. "If you promise to repair the walls when you leave, they could well be open to allowing you to install these safety must-haves."