Childproofing your home is no quick job. Our board-certified pediatricians and other providers at Children’s Wellness Center (CWC) have written a series of blogs with helpful tips to make your home safer for children of all ages. But today, we’re highlighting some childproofing tips for lesser-considered areas of the home: attics and basements. Even if these spaces are rarely accessed, they should be arranged and protected in a way that keeps your child safe.
- Attics and basements are common places to store tools. Regardless of whether you store them in your basement, attic, garage, or an outdoor shed, make sure that power tools are always unplugged when they aren’t in use and that you store them in a locked cabinet that your child can’t reach. It’s also a good idea to set a border your children are not allowed to cross, so that the area with the tools and any other dangerous equipment is off-limits to them.
- Basements are common places to house laundry areas and to store cleaning supplies and other household chemicals. It’s important that all potentially dangerous products be stored in a latched or locked child-safe cabinet that is out of your child’s reach. Items to look for include (but are not limited to):
- Any type of cleaning products, like all-purpose cleaner, bleach, drain cleaner, laundry detergent, and more
- Automotive fluids (antifreeze, motor oil, spare gasoline, etc.)
- Pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers
- Paints, stains, and varnishes
- Be very cautious about single-use laundry detergent packets (often called “pods”). The detergent they contain is highly concentrated, so it’s more dangerous if a child ingests it, and unfortunately, their bright colors and compact packaging make them look like candy to some children. If you use these products, keep them stored in a locked cabinet that is out of your child’s reach, and be careful to put them away between every use. However, many parents prefer to stay on the safe side and use traditional laundry detergents instead, while following these same storage precautions as well.
- Don’t forget to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your attic and basement—these areas are easy to overlook when families don’t spend as much time in them. Make sure to check the batteries at least twice per year, too—try putting it on your calendar so you won’t forget.
- Both attics and basements have some type of staircase or ladder leading to them, so protect your child from falls and injuries with these tips:
- Ideally, have your stairs carpeted so that it’s less likely that your child will slip and fall.
- Install a childproofing safety gate until all of your children are old enough and have the motor skills to go up and down stairs safely. Look for gates that are not accordion-style and that firmly attach to both sides of the doorway.
- When your child has reached an appropriate stage of development (usually around 18 months), teach him/her how to climb stairs (using the handrail) and how to crawl down stairs backward on his/her belly. Then, when he/she is old enough, teach him/her how to walk down stairs (using the hand rail).
- Just as in the rest of your home, make sure any large pieces of furniture are anchored to the wall so that they will not tip over.
- Keep a child safety latch on the trash can, especially if you’re throwing away potentially dangerous items.
- Use child safety locks on washers and dryers, to prevent your child from climbing inside.
- If you have a laundry chute, install it out of your child’s reach if possible. If the chute is already installed, use child locks to prevent your child from opening the doors and falling down the chute.
- If you have windows in your attic or basement, don’t forget to install childproof locks on them, as well as on all other windows in your home.
In blog articles such as these, our goal is to inform patients about childhood health and safety measures they may not know about or think about otherwise. But the purpose is not to make you panic about potential dangers in your home. Instead, we simply hope to give you the information you need to make your home as safe as possible, today and at each stage of your child’s development. If you have additional questions about childproofing your home or about other aspects of your child’s health and safety, contact Children’s Wellness Center and we will be happy to help. Or, to access your child’s records or schedule an appointment, log into our pediatric patient portal for a convenient choice.