Royal Home Inspectors L.L.C.

Because your Home is Your Castle!

Child Safety Tips

General Tips

Since hazards are harder to spot in a cluttered kitchen, clean it regularly. Prevent slips by immediately cleaning up any spills. Keep play activities out of the kitchen.
 
Gates
If your kitchen doesn't have latched drawers and cabinet door, use a safety gate to keep children under the age of two from wandering unsupervised into the kitchen. Although gates are a big help, they aren't foolproof. Don't let your guard down. A safety gate is not a substitution for supervision or other safety precautions. Avoid using accordion style gates; children have died after their heads got stuck in the V-shaped openings along the top, or in the diamond shape openings between the slats. Children have also strangled themselves after their heads became trapped in the spaces between the vertical slats in a gate. If your gate has slats measure, them to be sure they are less than 2 3/8" apart. Gates with expandable pressure bars should always be installed with the bar on the side opposite the child. Otherwise, the child could use the bar to climb over the gate. Always check that you securely anchor the gate and your child can't push it over.

Appliances
Keep children from becoming trapped in dangerous appliances by placing Velcro or buckle appliance latches on their doors. Old style refrigerators, freezers, picnic coolers, clothes dryers, washer/dryer combinations, and camper ice boxes could be potentially dangerous. Warn your children not to hide in appliances. When you get new appliances, immediately remove the doors from the old one.
 
Refrigerator
If you have small children, don't tempt them with refrigerator magnets shaped like food. Remove all small magnets from your refrigerator and bulletin board. Warn your children against touching cold surfaces of the refrigerator with their tongue or wet hands. No experimenting needed here they will get stuck.

Dishwasher
Never bathe your child in the sink while the dishwasher is running. Your baby can be severely burnt by hot waste water backing up the sink drain from the dishwasher. Never leave your knives or sharp utensils in the dishwasher or on the counter waiting for trouble. Immediately after each use, wash them by hand and store them pointed toward the back of a drawer with a safety latch.
 
Garbage Disposal
If you have a disposal, install a cover over the switch to discourage the born button pushers in your home. Snap in a metal disposal cap to protect your family from objects that may be shot back out of the disposal.

Stoves
Parents have often accidentally knocked scalding hot food or boiling water down onto their children. Children have also pulled pots of hot food down on themselves. While cooking, turn all pot handles away from the stove's edge. Check your pots and pans for loose handles. (Repair or throw away) For added protection, clip a stove guard to the front of your stove. Always keep your hot beverages out of your child's reach. Put it down whenever you pick up your child. If you have a gas stove, check the pilot lights regularly to make sure they are in good working order. Never use any kind of stove to heat your home.

To Prevent Serious Fires and Burns Caused by the Stove:
  • Move your children's cereals and snacks to the cabinet farthest from the stove.
  • Keep the fire extinguisher out of reach of small children, and teach the older
  • children how to use it properly.
  • Remove any curtains or hanging towels that could touch the burners.
  • Never wear loose clothing while cooking.
  • Regularly scrape grease and food from the burners and the broiler.
  • Never use an aerosol can near the stove.
  • Although it seems obvious, people are still starting fires by leaving potholders, towels, |food packing, and recipes on the stove.
  • Many curious children accidentally turn on the stove after grabbing onto the stove's knobs. If possible, slide the knobs off your stove and keep them in a drawer until it is time to cook.
Microwaves
Don't let children use the microwave until they are old enough to read and understand the cooking directions and time settings. If a child is too young to use the stove, the child is too young to use the microwave. Once children are old enough to operate the microwave, an adult must supervise them during its use. Reread the manual's instructions and safety |precautions with them. Teach them to always read and follow the directions printed on the box, especially regarding cooling, stirring, and venting food. Warn your children against using metal containers, foil, wire twists ties, or dishes with metal trim in the microwave. Popping corn in brown paper bags will result in a fire. Children should always use potholders to remove containers from the microwave. The microwave should never be turned on without something in it. Keep a glass of water in it just in case.
 
Small Appliances
Don't plug too many heat producing or motorized appliances into the same circuit. Avoid shocking your children, and yourself, by checking to see that you are using all three prongs on your plugs. If you have any appliances with frayed or worn cords, have them repaired or dispose of the appliance. Keep electrical cords from touching heat producing appliances, and keep them out from under rugs. Electrical cords should be out of reach of children who may accidentally electrocute or strangle themselves. Many children have been injured by pulling appliances down onto themselves. Use cord shorteners to take up slack. Move all of your small appliances away from the sink.  Make a habit of unplugging all of your small appliances after each use.
 
Microwave Food
Teach children that microwaves heat food from the inside out. Don't use the microwave to heat baby food or formula. A hot pocket in the food could burn your baby's mouth. Also, baby bottle liners can explode. Before cooking, poke holes in foods with tight skins, such as sausages, hot dogs, and tomatoes. Otherwise, trapped steam may cause them to explode. Escaping steam can burn your child. After removing food from the microwave, children should always open bags, pull back covers, and remove plastic wraps away from themselves and others. Trapped steam can also explode containers that haven't been vented.

High Chairs
To keep your child from pushing themselves over, set the chair out of reach of walls, tables, and counters. Never leave your child unattended while they're in a highchair. Make sure the chair is very stable when it is set up. If it is the folding type, it must have a locking device. Never let your child stand up in a highchair or climb in unassisted. To avoid possible tipping, keep other children from hanging onto, or playing around the highchair. As the chair gets older, watch out for torn belts, loose screws, broken joints, sharp edges, and food caked in moving parts. Only use a highchair with a seat belt and crotch strap. A tray is not enough to keep a child in the highchair; Always use the restraints.

Hook-on Chairs
If you use a hook-on chair instead of a highchair, make sure your child's feet can't reach anything. Children have dislodged hook-on chairs by pushing off on table supports and benches. For added safety, use a hook-on chair with a clamp that locks to the table. As with highchairs, always use the restraints with a hook-on chair.

Trash
Protect your children from hazards in the garbage by using a child resistant trash can, or keep your trash can behind a locked cabinet. To prevent suffocation, tie knots in plastic bags before discarding. Also, keep your trash bags and plastic wrap in a cabinet with a safety latch. Keep aluminum foil and wax paper boxes out of children's reach; the serrated boxes can easily cut little fingers.

Hazardous Chemicals
Oven cleaners, drain openers, detergents, ammonia, furniture polish, and other hazardous products must be kept in a locked cabinet away from all food. Avoid keeping them in a cabinet under the kitchen sink, even if it has a safety latch. Wash the bottom of the cabinet after you remove hazardous products. Children can be poisoned by chemical residue. Keep your children safe by disposing of all rodent and insect poisons. Always store dangerous household chemicals in clearly labeled containers. Once chemicals are out of their cabinet and in use, parents must really be on their guard! Just a minute to answer the door, or change the TV channel, was all it took to end the lives of many children. Have your local poison information center's phone number written by your telephone. Also include your name, address, and nearest cross street. If you have auto-dial, program the number in.
 
Parties
Don't use a tablecloth. Many children have pulled hot food, sharp knives, glasses, and heavy bowls onto themselves after they use a tablecloth for balance, or just give a curious tug. At least one adult at the party must always be supervising the children. Accidents happen when everyone thinks someone else is watching the kids. Don't let children run around while eating. Don't leave out toothpicks, hard candies, nuts, popcorn, grapes, mini hotdogs, or other small foods on which children might choke. Put away foods that may spoil. Salads and meats left out at parties can cause food poisoning.  Keep your eyes on glasses and bottles of alcohol left around. Dump out drinks left around, and lock up any bottles not in use. If any of your guests are tired or drunk, don't let them drive, especially if they have children.
 
Kitchen Checklist
  • If you have children under the age of two, install a safety gate at the kitchen door.
  • Measure the slats of the safety gate to ensure they are less than 2 3/8" apart.
  • Put appliance latches on any potentially dangerous appliance.
  • Warn your children not to hide in appliances.
  • Remove small magnets from the refrigerator.
  • Warn your children not to touch cold surfaces with their tongue or wet hand.
  • Put a safety latch on your knife drawer.
  • Install a cover on the garbage disposal switch.
  • Install a garbage disposal cap.
  • Check all pots and pans for loose handles.
  • Clip a stove guard to front of stove.
  • Put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and teach older children how to operate.
  • Check that nothing can come in contact with the stove.
  • Move children's cereals and snacks to the cabinet furthest away from the stove.
  • If possible, slide knobs off your stove.
  • Teach older children microwave safety.
Check the condition of the cords on all appliances.
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