To kids, the world is full of opportunities for interaction. They appear to have been put on this planet to grab, poke, pull, and put things in their mouths. Kids will explore the world one object at a time, and you’re justified in worrying about what that object might be. A toy? Your jewelry? What if it’s an appliance?
Keeping your children safe at home depends in large part on your ability to identify and mitigate risks, and you should make sure that you’re not overlooking your appliances. They come in a lot of forms, so the danger to a little guy or girl can vary. In this article, I’ll walk you through the different risks that appliances can pose, and I’ll offer solutions to make your home safe and child-proof.
One simple principle: look at your house as your kid would!
Get down on your hands and knees and look. What would you grab if you were an inquisitive infant? Is there anything that could hurt you in reach? For a few minutes, you should become the most in-depth explorer of your home – because your kids definitely will take that title, and you don’t want it to end badly.
What kinds of risks should you look out for?
Electricity: shockingly dangerous
If there’s one thing in common with all your household appliances, it’s that they’ll need at least some electricity to run. Along with that need comes the possibility of electrocution. Make sure that your appliances are plugged in securely, that the cords are out of reach and aren’t fraying or otherwise damaged, and that all unfilled outlets are protected by a modern childproof cover. If you’re using your appliance near water (like in the bathroom or by a sink), it’s best to have it plugged into a Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet so that the power will shut down before a spill causes an electrical accident.
Heat: too hot for kids to handle
This might be the biggest category of appliance out there. It might just be easier to mention the appliances that don’t generate heat. From toasters and microwaves to ovens, coffee makers, and furnaces, there is a long list of ways that a kid could get burned while romping about your home.
To cut down on the dangers, make sure that your kitchen isn’t full of grab-able, pull-able temptations. If a pot handle protrudes too far, it may look like something to grab – and that could quickly turn ugly if the pot is heavy or hot. Again, your best bet is to lower yourself to the height of your kid: what can you see that you would be able to grab? It might be as small as a dishcloth hanging from an oven door. In the worst case scenario, that could turn into a choking hazard or a way to open a dangerously hot oven.
Since you can only do so much to hide, safeguard, and child-lock your appliances, you should be careful to keep your children out of the kitchen. Use a baby gate when you’re cooking, baking, or otherwise warming up the house with tasty treats.
Fortunately, the number of appliances that constitute a water hazard is pretty low. That doesn’t mean you can’t make your clothes washer and dishwasher child-proof, though. Not only can a spill be a mess to clean up, but it can damage flooring and scald nearby kids. Play it safe: if you’ve got a new washer, use the locking features to make sure that no one, big or small, interrupts it mid-wash.
Can a kid fit in there?
If it’s a fridge, a dryer, an oven, or any other big appliance, a very creative youngster could find his way in. Make sure that you don’t make it easy for the very youngest, who might be unable to get out again: take dishtowels off handles, keep the appliance’s doors closed, and make sure your kid doesn’t have an accomplice:
Andrew is a Community Coordinator at ApplianceHelp.com, and he loves to write about DIY projects for the home.