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Childproofing Your House

According to a survey by Safe Kids Worldwide, the risk for preventable household injuries does not match the concern. Poison centers receive millions of calls every year concerning children, but only 4 percent of parents surveyed answered that they were concerned about poisoning. Parents need to understand that the threat to their children is real, and it's up to them to prevent it.

Home insurance protects your house, and your house protects your family. However, while your humble abode provides shelter and warmth, it can also be a minefield of dangers to young children. Follow these steps for childproofing your home to prevent an accident.

Lock it up

Common household items like medicine and cleaning supplies can be toxic if consumed. A child might not know the difference between, say, a Tic Tac and a prescription pill, so make sure that those items are out of reach. If you store cleanser or bleach in places that a toddler could easily access, such as under a sink, use a safety latch or lock on cabinet doors. Drawers with knives or other sharp objects that your child can reach should also be locked up.

Bolt it down

Every two weeks, a child dies from furniture or appliances falling on them, Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids, told USA Today in an interview. Therefore, it is essential to bolt down anything that has potential to fall. This includes flat-screen televisions, bookcases, dressers, desks and shelving units.

Block it off

Falls are another cause of injury in homes. Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairways to prevent an accident. Also, use doorknob covers and door locks on entryways to basement stairs or any rooms that aren't safe for a child. To prevent injury to adults, always unlatch the gate instead of trying to step over it.

Windows, balconies and decks are another danger area for falls. Install window guards or safety netting over these openings. Also, avoid putting furniture directly next to windows so that kids climbing on your sofa or armchair won't be in danger.

Drowning is another serious danger for kids, especially in swimming pools. Make sure you have a gate with a lock on your backyard if you have a pool or hot tub to prevent wandering kids from taking a swim. Always supervise children in the water.

Sharp edges are an invitation for injury, especially to wobbling toddlers and running 5-year olds. To prevent a game of tag from turning sour, use padding on your counter ledges, the edge of your fireplace and poorly placed wall corners.

Test it out

A smoke alarm should be placed on each level of your home, but they are only useful if they work. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner recommends testing your smoke alarms at least once a month and changing the batteries every year. You should also change the batteries on your carbon monoxide alarm every year as well.

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