Home Safe Home: Childproof Your Home Room by Room

Bedroom

WHAT'S RIGHT

Bedroom

Stephen Campbell

Crib is set up safely. Once your child can sit up, it's time to lower the crib mattress. Be careful with stuffed animals too -- they're a suffocation risk for babies, and they can make an easy step stool for a little one who wants to get out. As of June, traditional drop-side cribs are now banned from being sold in the United States; if the drop side breaks, a child can become trapped between the crib and the mattress and suffocate, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If your crib has a drop side, the CPSC recommends replacing it with a fixed-side crib, or at the very least, checking on cpsc.gov to see if it has been recalled.

Window has a guard. Windows should only be able to open 3 inches, about the height of an adult fist, or they should have a window guard. "And if you have a window that's low to the floor, or a window seat, it's imperative that you install a guard," says safety expert Alison Rhodes, of Wilton, Connecticut, who founded the childproofing company Safety Mom Solutions. For casement windows, Rhodes recommends removing the crank and keeping it somewhere that you can easily access.

Window blinds are cordless. A child can get his neck caught in a looped cord and be strangled. More than 200 young children have died this way since 1990, says the CPSC. Eliminate the hazard by cutting the loop and adding free tassels from windowcoverings.org. But if possible, invest in new cordless window coverings.

WHAT'S WRONG

Balloon is within reach. "Latex balloons should be kept completely away from children under 8," says Dr. Smith. "As many as half of children's choking deaths caused by toys are due to balloons." If a child puts a popped balloon in his mouth, the balloon can drape itself over the entrance to his larynx, covering it like shrink-wrap, and suffocate him, he explains.

Crayons are left out. Even little hands can snap a crayon in two, and then it's small enough to choke on. Always supervise your child while he's using art supplies, and consider getting chubby round crayons like Crayola Tadoodles.

Dresser isn't secure. Each year, nearly 15,000 kids visit the E.R. for tip-over-related injuries. "All heavy furniture needs to be anchored to the wall or to the floor," says Dr. Smith.

Porcelain piggy bank isn't up high enough. A child could easily climb up those "stairs" of dresser drawers and grab the bank on top. And once he does, the bank could shatter, and he could get cut on the pieces or choke on the coins inside. Because coins are the perfect size and shape to block your child's airway, experts recommend keeping them away from toddlers entirely. (This goes for plastic ones too.) You can also install drawer stops that keep drawers from being open more than two thirds of the way.

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