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Every year, nearly 100,000 kids are taken to the hospital due to injuries related to stairs. And that’s just the tip of the home-hazard iceberg. From electrical wires to garage doors to insects in mattresses, a big house can be a dangerous place for little ones.
Stairs. To make sure that your stairs are safe for kids, we recommend the “tennis ball test.” If a tennis ball can fit between the balusters (also called spindles and stair sticks), a small child can also fall through that space. Also give your stair railing a good pull to make sure it’s not loose. If either your railing is loose or a tennis ball can pass through the balusters, consult a qualified handyman ASAP to resolve the issue.
Outlets. Electrical cover plates keep little fingers from touching wires that could seriously injure them. Check to make sure that all of your cover plates are screwed tightly against the wall. It’s also a good idea to install kid-proof outlet covers, which will prevent them from sticking items into the outlet itself. These covers are available at your local hardware store and cost about $5 for an eight-pack.
Kitchen. Between knives, heat and heavy objects, the kitchen is a danger zone for children. In fact, every year more than 67,000 children experience an accident in the kitchen. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your kitchen, such as installing child safety locks on all cabinets and educating your kids about the dangers of burners. For more details, read: Kid-Proof Your Kitchen.
Fencing and Gates. Even a perfect white picket fence can be dangerous if it has jagged edges or sharp, loose posts. Also, make sure that there aren’t any splinters or missing slats in your fence. Next, check your gate. Does it close securely? If not, a curious child could slip out of the yard. If your fence has any of these problems, repair them as soon as possible.
Garage door. Faulty garage door systems result in approximately 30,000 injuries every year. To keep your garage door from closing on your child, check the electrical eye at the bottom of the door. Place a baby-sized object in the line of the red eye, and push the garage door button. If working properly, the eye should sense the object and the garage door should not move more than an inch. For more general information about your garage door, read: Inspect and Maintain Your Garage Door.