Safety Gate
Photo: Courtesy of Kidco
Safety Gate
Childproofing a home to protect little ones—particularly those under four years old—includes identifying common dangers and choosing the best products to decrease the risk of accidents. Parents should evaluate each room in the house, pinpointing things that could harm a child well into the walking stage. Here's a primer on 10 potential hazards, and how to remedy them.

1. Falling Furniture
Unbalanced furniture can fall and pin children. Heavy dressers, entertainment centers, bookcases—or anything kids might be tempted to climb or pull on—should be anchored to the wall with earthquake-proof, anti-tip furniture straps. Flat screen televisions that sit on furniture or TV tables are also a common tipping hazard and should be secured.

2. Choking Hazards
A general rule of thumb: Anything that fits through a cardboard toilet paper roll is a choking hazard. Doorstops with removable caps are a big concern; if a curious child puts one in his or her mouth, the cap can become loosened by the child's saliva and swallowed. Use one-piece doorstops that mount into a wall or door.

3. Cabinet Locks
Cleaning products, sharp implements—cabinets hold all sorts of hazards to children. Keep kids out with childproof cabinet locks. But rather than using inexpensive all-plastic locks, which generally fail within the first 100 days of use, purchase locks with metal spring mechanisms, or better yet, magnetic locks.

A magnetic lock attaches to the inside of the cabinet door. It is not visible from the outside and cannot be opened without its magnetic key. They can run up to $15 for one set, but as Chad Hass, vice president of International Association for Child Safety suggests, proper childproofing requires a bit of investment. As he puts it, "If you're only paying $1.99 for seven cabinet locks, I can guarantee they will not be the safety measure you want to take."

4. Pots, Pans, and Burns
Banging on pots and pans is an old routine for antsy children. But, "Once you give a pot to them, they consider it a toy," says Hass. "When the parent takes the pot or pan away to cook with it, the child might reach for it, and there is the burn hazard." Childproof stove-knob covers and oven-door locks are good preventive measures.

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