Babyproofing 101: 10 Household Safety Hazards

You'll be shocked at what's really dangerous in your home. Don't skip our checklist of 10 safety hazards that could be deadly.

Dishwashers and Balloons

Babyproofing Your Home: Kitchen
Babyproofing Your Home: Kitchen

1. Dishwashers

baby reaching for pan

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The danger: They give young children easy access to sharp knives and forks, and the racks have pointy spikes that can hurt your baby if she falls on them. Dishwasher detergent can also irritate your child's skin and eyes and can burn the lining of her mouth and esophagus if she swallows some. "It's extremely corrosive and dangerous," warns Parents advisor Ari Brown, MD, author of Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year.

Safe strategy: Make sure your child isn't underfoot when you're loading or unloading the dishwasher. Point knives, forks, and other sharp items downward in the utensil basket. Don't fill the dispenser with detergent until you're ready to run the load, and wipe out any that's left over in the cup after each cycle. Always replace the cap on the bottle tightly, and store it in a locked cabinet. Keep the dishwasher closed and latched when it's not in use.

2. Latex Balloons

The danger: Colorful latex balloons may look great at birthday parties, but since 1973, more than 110 children have choked to death when blowing up balloons or chewing on pieces of balloons. "Latex balloons are one of the worst things to choke on because they can conform to a child's throat and completely block breathing," explains Mariann Manno, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in Worcester.

Safe strategy: Buy Mylar balloons instead of latex ones. They come in a wide variety of fun designs and shapes and aren't a choking hazard. Always supervise your child when he's playing with latex balloons, and never allow him to bite on an inflated or uninflated balloon or put pieces of one in his mouth. Don't let him blow up latex balloons until he's 8 years old, and then watch closely to make sure he doesn't inhale one when he takes a big breath. When a balloon pops, immediately pick up the pieces and throw them away. In addition, never let a child play with thin latex or rubber gloves, which pose similar hazards.

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