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7 Ways to Make Your House a Home, Not a Hazard

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As a mom, you’ve likely become an expert on taking care of your kids when you’re out on the town. Strollers, car seats, sunscreen, band-aids, and cat-like instincts. A powerful combination.

But, what precautions do you take to keep your children safe at home? Every year, nearly 100,000 kids are taken to the hospital due to injuries related to stairs. And that’s just the tip of the home-hazard iceberg. From electrical wires to garage doors to insects in mattresses, a big house can be a dangerous place for little ones. Keep your kids healthy and safe by paying extra attention to these dangers around your house.

Here are seven quick steps you can take to keep your child safe at home:

1. Mattresses. Allergens produced by dust mites are among the most common triggers of asthma, and mites love to hang out in your child’s mattress. To reduce potential allergic reactions, wash your kid’s sheets and stuffed animals every week with hot water (over 130°F).

2. Garage Door. Faulty garage door systems result in approximately 30,000 injuries every year. To keep your garage door from closing on your child, check the electrical eye at the bottom of the door. Place a medium-sized box in the line of the red eye, and push the garage door button. If working properly, the eye should sense the object and the garage door should not move more than an inch.

3. Stairs. To make sure that your stairs are safe for little ones, we recommend the “tennis ball test.” If a tennis ball can fit between the balusters (also called spindles and stair sticks), then it doesn’t meet building codes. Next, check your stair railing to ensure it’s not loose by giving it a good pull. If either your railing is loose or you can shove a tennis ball through the balusters, consult a handyman ASAP.

4. Outlets. Electrical cover plates keep little fingers from touching wires that could seriously injure them. Check to make sure that you don’t have any open electrical boxes and that all of your cover plates are screwed tightly against the wall.

5. Kitchen. Between knives, heat, and heavy objects, the kitchen is a danger zone for children. In fact, every year more than 67,000 children experience an accident in the kitchen. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your kitchen, such as installing child safety locks on all cabinets and educating your kids about the dangers of burners. For more details on kitchen safety, read: Kid-Proof Your Kitchen

6. Playground Equipment. In the United States, more than 200,000 children under the age of 14 end up in an emergency room due to playground-related injuries. The most common cause of injury is a hard fall, so be sure that the surfaces under your backyard playground equipment are safe, soft and well maintained. Cover the areas directly under your playground equipment with shock-absorbing materials such as sand or mulch, and make sure it’s at least a foot deep. Also, look for tripping hazards such as stumps and rocks and remove them right away!

7. Fencing and Gates. A perfect white picket fence can be dangerous if it has jagged edges or sharp, loose posts. Also, make sure that there aren’t any splinters or missing slats in your fence. Next, check your gate. Does it close securely? If not, your curious child could slip out of the yard. If your fence has any of these problems, repair them as soon as possible.

BrightNest is a free site with tools and tips to help you keep your home in great shape and your family safe and healthy.

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