When it comes to childproofing, I consider myself to be fairly aware of the potential dangers in my home. However, when it comes to figuring out what to get, where to get it and then, oy, actually installing it and installing it correctly…I start to glaze over. One of the things I love about blogging is being able to be connected to so many great experts who then become part of my network of experts. A favorite quote of mine from Ann Landers from years ago was that if she didn’t have the answer, “she always knew who to call.” When my friends at Safety 1st contacted me and asked if I’d like to have Kimberlee Mitchell, Child Safety Expert & Professional Childproofer, who is chief advisor to The Safety 1st Squad, come to my house, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. Kimberlee arrived bright and early one morning and we sat down at my dining room table and talked. I learned that unintentional injury is the number one killer of America’s children between the ages of 1 and 4, claiming more lives than both violence and all disease combined. If that didn’t cause you to sit up straight, I don’t know what will. Kimberlee says that by taking childproofing precautions, it is estimated that 90% of these injuries can be avoided. I suddenly had an urge to go check on Chip and Lulu. Gulp!
Next Kimberlee and I discussed Childproofing 101. Now, here is where I will tell you that you can start to feel bogged down. So I’m going to tell you to stick with me and let’s look at attacking it in manageable chunks. Kimberlee recommends you start to childproof during pregnancy when you will have some time to tackle the tasks. Childproof, yes, but combine it with consistent proactive parenting that teaches your kids to understand boundaries. Lengthen the life of your childproofing by not allowing your child to study you using the devices--even a toddler can figure out some childproofing mechanisms. Keep some areas and rooms in your home off limits and even use two layers of protection as back up for extra dangerous rooms, ie: the laundry room. Think like a child and realize that your kids can get creative and use something in a way that you would never think of. Anything that will fit inside an empty cardboard toilet paper roll is a choking hazard. When it comes to pools, exterior doors or any extra dangerous areas consider layers of childproofing in case one layer fails. Anchor all items that are tipping hazards, furniture and tv’s can kill. Kimberlee has written a comprehensive guide, Childproofing 101: How to Create a Baby Safe Home Environment and I think it really is a gift that this is available to all of us on the Safety 1st site. I have provided some highlights from the guide, definitely read it for the expert’s eye view.
Ok, remember I asked you to stick with me? So you’ve identified the issues around your home. Kimberlee helped me identify mine. Now what? You can run to a store like Target or Babies R Us and buy childproofing products. Just figuring out what to get can be a headache. Then you get the products home. Next, you have to figure out how to install them, whether you have the right tools, then actually finding the time to do it. Inevitably, it’s something that can easily be put off. So there sits your bag of childproofing supplies. I’m all for saving a buck and doing it the least expensive way possible. However, when it comes to childproofing, it just might make sense to call in the pros. The time, aggravation, product knowledge, problem solving and ultimately child safety that you are paying for is worth it. I also learned that all of us have access to mass consumer child proofing products. However, child safety professionals additionally have some pro grade products that they can utilize, if needed, in your home. Kimberlee started her childproofing business, Boo Boo Busters, Inc., when her first child was a baby. She quickly became known as “The Childproofer to the Hollywood Stars” and has many celebrities as clients. Great, you’re thinking, this must be REALLY expensive. Not necessarily! It all depends on what your needs are. You can have a consultation, basic install all the way up to an elaborate, complicated job in a huge mansion. The Safety 1st Squad currently services Southern California and the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area. If you don’t live in their service areas, you can visit the National Association for Childproofers to locate a member near you.
After my meeting with Kimberlee, she returned a few days later with a member of her Safety 1st Squad to do the installations as well as bring me several products to use all over the house. The Safety 1st guy got to work installing some cabinet locks: one bathroom cabinet got Tot Lok magnetic locks, my kitchen cabinet where I keep my cleaning supplies got Spring ‘n Release latches, and a tough to figure-out-what-to-do-with lazy susan cabinet received a Wide Grip latch. Next, some big bookcases in my living room were attached to the wall and an older TV that I have in my den (not flat panel) was attached to the wall using straps that Kimberlee special ordered—another reason to use a pro. Here is MY real life childproofing and, because I live in Southern California, earthquake-proofing situation: My husband had already attached the safety straps to our large flat screen tv in our living room. However, he still hadn’t gotten around to putting the safety straps on the two large bookcases we had bought two months ago. In the meantime, we had made sure there was a loveseat in front of them to break their fall, but really is that the way to do things? In the video, you can see the Safety 1st guy installing the safety straps on our bookcases. The whole installation went so quickly and with Kimberlee here as well, it was easy to see that you really are benefitting from all the experience these pros bring to your house. I have slightly unusual kitchen cabinets so they had to problem solve on the lazy susan and switch from the original plan to something else. If I had been on my own, I probably would have just given up.
Many of my readers will remember my Bosch Washer & Dryer post where I wrote about the dangers of children climbing inside front loading washers and dryers. Some Bosch models come with a keypad locking feature which is an awesome safety feature and I hope all manufacturers make this standard. Kimberlee introduced me to the Front Load Washer-Dryer Lock which can be installed on washers and dryers that don’t have a built-in locking feature. Some bathtub safety products that we have put to good use are: the Bath Pal Thermometer, Froggy & Friends Bath Mat & Soft Spout Cover all of which have been excellent and “why didn’t we get these sooner?” items! Two more products that I would recommend: Clear View Stove Knob Covers and Clearly Soft Corner Guards—previously I had taped bubble wrap on a couple of sharp corners—this looks better! And finally, Surfer Guy’s favorite for keeping tabs on Lulu: The Safety 1st Prism Color Video Monitor, which includes remote zoom and baby’s room temperature. Really fabulous! There are many more products, including car seats, like the Complete Air Convertible Car Seat that I reviewed here. For a full overview of the products, visit Safety1st.com also, be sure to visit Kimberlee’s Safety Blog.
Ah, there is nothing like being able to check those tasks off your to-do list, not having to be in conflict with your husband and just knowing the job was done right. Thank you Kimberlee and thank you Safety 1st Squad! Ah, but we weren’t totally done…Kimberlee still had to childproof my minivan!