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Archive-name: misc-kids/babyproofing/general
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
           Frequently Asked Questions
                         Babyproofing Ideas

Collection maintained by: Sandra Smith,
Last updated: August 21, 1996

(Originally compiled by:  Judith Boxer, huxley!judy@uunet.UU.NET)

To contribute to this collection, please send e-mail to the address
given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on
Babyproofing Ideas.  Please try to be as concise as possible, as
these FAQ files tend to be quite long as it is.  And, unless
otherwise requested, your name and e-mail address will remain in the
file, so that interested readers may follow-up directly for more

For a list of other FAQ files, look for the FAQ File Index posted to 


Andy Lowry is maintaining an Auto Safety FAQ, which might be of interest
to readers of this babyproofing FAQ.  His email address is


From: Mark Vigder, Systems and Computer Engineering, Carleton University

A good suggestion that was on the network a while ago (particularly if
you have a gas range): take the knobs off and keep them up high. There
was a horrible case in Winnipeg about a year ago where a
two or three year old who was supposed to be napping woke up, went
into the kitchen, pushed a chair to the stove, climbed up, and turned
on the element. His rubber running shoes melted and stuck to the
element; he couldn't get off.

At our cottage we also have ceiling fans near bunk beds and base board
heaters with curtains hanging on them. I take the knobs off these as
well so that little hands cannot turn them on.


From: Elizabeth Zaenger,  University of Michigan EECS Dept., Ann Arbor

When I took Monica for her 9(?) month check up, the nurse asked about
baby proofing.  I told her we had installed the child proof latches,
and she suggested we still take all *poisons* out of the lower cupboards
and put them completely out of reach for Monica.  She mentioned that
automatic dishwasher detergent is often made with lye, and other
cleaners are very poisonious as well (anything with ammonia, etc.).
Regular dishwashing liquid is not poisonous (according to her).

Well, I did it as soon as I got home.  All the junk we had under
the sink is now in one of our stupid little high cupboards that
isnt really very useful, since it is so hard to reach.  We keep the
dishwasher detergent at the front, and lesser used stuff is at the
back, where I need a chair to reach it (my husband is 6'2", and
can reach it all 8^(  Its a bit more inconvenient, but I have heard 
*way too many* stories about toddlers defeating the "child-proof" latches!

Also, when I go to other people's houses, and notice things that could be
dangerous.  Toddler-less homes are notorious for under the sink bad things,
and require dilligent serveillance on my part, but I have also noticed some
stuff at homes *with* toddlers (actually, a friends cottage, where they
kept the aspirin and stuff like that in a drawer in the bathroom sink
cabinet!  I mentioned that one to them, cause we are pretty good friends,
but you cant always do that tactfully!).

P.S.  One suggestion I have heard is to get down on the floor at baby level,
and look around for stuff that could be hazardous.  I did that, and ended
up tying lamp cords off the floor--something I hadnt thought of from
5'4" !


From: Carolyn

Sunset has a book called "Making Your Home Child Safe" that
I found to be quite helpful.  It covers a lot of details
inside and out.

For cabinet latches, we used 2 different kinds.  One has a sharp point
and horizontal ridges on the inside of the point where it catches on the
cupboard door.  It is GREAT.  The other kind has a slightly rounded point
(on the part that attaches to the door) and is smooth.  This kind is
junk.  Sorry I don't remember the brand names.

For drawers, we used Gerber latches on the 1st child.  They were fine
until she was about 18 months, then she figured them out.  We added a
second latch to each drawer and it took her 2 days to realize she
just needed to open both of them at once.  We gave up on drawers with


>For brands: the "one with the sharp point and horizontal ridges on the inside
>of the point where it catches on the cupboard door" (I haven't figured out
>which brand this is yet), and the Gerber single piece units (from Perfectly

I was in a store today, so looked at the cupboard latches.  The
Kinderguard ones qualify as the "one with the sharp point and horizontal
ridges on the inside of the poin"  We had purchased them at first and
later needed to add more.  I grabbed some that looked similiar, but the
point wasn't aointed and didn't have the ridges.  A good tug easily
defeated the second kind and the kids were soon opening the doors with
the bad latches faster than we were.

I don't know if it was mentioned, but if you have stair railing along
an upstairs hallway or deck railing that has the balisters more than
3 or 4 inches apart, you need to look into netting of some sort to keep
children from falling through the railing.


From: Dave Johnsen, TECHbooks of Beaverton Oregon - Public Access Unix
davej@techbook.COM  ...!{tektronix!nosun,uunet}techbook!davej

A recent example tells me it will have to be combination locks.  Two days ago
Jilly unlocked the padlock on the toolbox in the garage.  She had seen Daddy
do it once.  And the key was up on a shelf she had to get a chair to get.  When
I asked her why she did that (Now here is where the child induced brain damage
is apparent.  I asked a two year old why she did something.) she said "My
Hammer!" and then proceeded to go over and try to pound a nail into the wall.
She had a picture she had made and wanted to hang.

- To finish the story, I distracted her, and then framed the picture (more of
a scribble, actually).  Her and I then hung it in her room.  I will keep it for
my office later.  And I got a combination lock. :)


The only suggestion I can really make is that nothing is baby-proof.  It is
rather like watches that aren't water proof, they're water resistant.  You
can make a house baby proof I suppose, but you can only make it toddler-
resistant. :)  Our daughter, at 15 months then, brought me handfulls of
electric outlet covers.  I kept putting them back while she wasn't watching,
she kept bringing them to me.  She is two tommorrow, and lately has been
bringing me stuff from "protected" areas.  So far the only thing I have been
able to protect completely has been the shop which is behind a combination

From: Glen Ecklund, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin

Determine whether there are any rooms they can lock themselves into.
Ethan likes to lock himself in the bathroom.  Fortunately, I was at my
desk when my wife called.  She remembered that there was a gizmo to open
the bathroom door, but she didn't remember where it was.  Also, fortunately
the toilet lid was locked.  We started locking it as soon as he opened it
the first time.  Now he plays with the lock, but he doesn't expect to
be able to open the lid, even when someone forgets to lock it.

Now I try to make sure that any sitter knows how to unlock the door.  We
keep it shut normally.  And when he stays at someone else's house I mention
the potential problem.

Our other bathroom door has a lock which we hadn't even noticed, since we
don't use it.  There is no easy way to open it from the outside, so I'm 
glad he didn't find it first.  I disabled it by putting a screw partway
into the hole in the door jamb, so the deadbolt hits the screw and
cannot latch.  The doorknob latch is separate, and unaffected.

A small tragedy happened Saturday when Ethan was with the sitter at a 
conference at a hotel.  He locked himself into the room, and locked the
sitter and another child out.  She left him there and went down to them main
desk for help.  I think he has recovered by now, but he certainly had
some extra crying to do for a while.


I keep thinking of new things.  Watch out for wastebaskets!  Ours is locked
away under the sink, but Ethan still managed to transfer a couple of spoons
from the dishwasher to it, which was lucky to notice while taking out
the trash.  And Madeleine's keys are long gone.  But we still have the
remote controls.  :-)


From: Laura Floom, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

A real important thing to remember is to never let your child
see how you open a baby proofed item! Make sure your body shields
the action. It is much easier for a child to figure them out of the
see you do it. Ideally you never even want your child to realize
there is somehing there.


From: Judy Drake, Tektronix, Inc., Redmond,  OR.

Besides the usual cabinet latches and electrical outlet covers,
removing cleaning stuff and medicines, etc., if you have a dog, 
be sure you store the dog food where the baby can't get
into it, and don`t leave the dog's food out on the floor.  Some
kinds of kibbles are perfect choking size.

Also, if you have blinds, make sure you have hooks next to the 
windows or something you have hang the strings up on when the
blinds are open.  The strings can hang down far enough for a kid
to get tangled up in.

Dishwasher detergent is poisonous, so if you keep it under your
sink like we used to, you might want to move it to a higher location.
A lot of house plants are poisonous, but I'm not sure which ones.

You can put doorknob covers on any doors that the baby can lock
himself into or out of, so he can't open the door in the first place.

I've read that toddlers can drown in 5-gallon buckets by falling
in head first then not being able to get out.  (Our solution to
this is to never wash the car.)  

Some things in our house we never babyproofed, because I wanted
our kid to learn about stuff.  For example, he always has had
access to toilets and our stereo and the stairs, without any
problem.  I suppose if he had ever shown more interest in the 
toilets, I would have put locks on the lids.  However, by the time
he was big enough to lift the lid, he wasn't interested in the
toilets (aside from throwing in the occasional shoe to see Mom's

Sometimes you never know what might pose a hazard to a little baby.
I read not long ago about an aquarium that leaked into a baby's crib
and the baby drowned because the water puddled on his mattress and
he was too little to lift his head.

I remember reading a posting in this group that I thought was a good
suggestion.  The poster suggested getting down at baby's-eye-level
and looking around to see what you can get into that could possibly
hurt you.


From: Susanne Gilliam

  In my book, by **far** the best latches are the Gerber single piece units
sold thru the Perfectly Safe catalog (1-800-837-kids).  We have 2 children,
and have lived in 2 different houses, own at least 50 latches of at least 4 
or 5 different manufacturer, and will now only buy the Gerber ones.  There
are two reasons. The first one is that most latches are two pieces, and when
mounting them, you **must** mount them aligned, or they won't work.  Most
allow some adjustment in one piece, or both, to make it so you don't have to
mount them perfectly.  The problem is that over time, the screws holding the
pieces loosen the tiniest amount, and let the piece move ever so slightly.
They are usually designed such that the slip makes it easier to get the
drawer or cabinet open by simply yanking on it hard enough.  Of course, you
can reposition and retighten the latch, but if your child gets in even
once, it can be disasterous, dangerous, or just plain annoying, depending
on what is in the drawer/cabinet.
  The Gerber one piece latches are different (Perfectly Safe carries both
one and two piece latches by Gerber).  They are a strong plastic hook
sort of shape, with a spring.  If you think of an ordinary kitchen
cabinet, you would mount the piece on the door.  When you swing it closed,
the "hook" catches on the inside of the facing of the cabinet.  Due to the
shape of the hook, it basically closes without problem.  But, it won't
open.  To open it, you push down on the latch, against the pressure of
the spring.  There are a few places they won't work, particularly on 
drawers that simply have a flat, solid surface above them (some center
front desk drawers are like this, among others), but we use them
everywhere we can.  If you can put the latch out of reach (like high on
a tall kitchen cabinet), that is best.                                   
  Kids differ a lot in how much they will fiddle with your childproofing.
The "average" child will make a few attempts, then give it up, and they
quickly learn what is latched and what isn't.  Other kids, however, have
a strong drive to overcome obstacles, and they will drive the childproofing
methods to their limits.  In cases like that, two latches will help.
  Some people use toilet latches to keep the lid down.  I used a wait and
see attitude; since neither of my kids ever showed the slightest 
inclination to mess with them, I haven't used the toilet latches.  My
kids also did not mess with the outlet covers more than a few times each,
so I use the "standard" ones that simply push in to the outlet.  There
are more sophisticated ones available, but they are more expensive and
harder for the parent to get at the plug when needed.  (By the way, when
we travel, we always take a long a baggie of outlet caps for whereever
we spend time -- hotel rooms, Grandmother's house, etc.)  If you can
run electrical cords behind furniture, do so.  If you can't, see if you
can put some of the cord under the furniture itself, to make it so
a tug on one end of the cord doesn't bring the object tumbling down.
For example, a table lamp on a living room end table can have the
cord run under one of the feet for the table.  In addition, you can
get what amount to plastic "C" clamps; they are used for lamps, etc --
you can use the clamp to hold the cord tight against the edge of
the table so that the child cannot pull on the rest of the cord, and
have the item tumble down on them.  These are not exactly beautiful,
but they are very effective for places where there are no other choices.
  Padding edges are another debatable case.  In both our houses, we
have had a fireplace hearth raised 1 brick high, with the sharp edges
just waiting to dent a baby head.  We used a wait and see attitude with
that too, and never had to do anything.  However, you can make your own
thick padding with an old towel, duct tape, and padding, or you can
buy a variety of paddings.  At some point, every child grows too large
to waltz under the dining table the way they do at the beginning, but
I never felt that was worth doing much about -- you watch them, try
to stop them, and they learn fast.
  Baby gates are an obvious class of stuff that probably needs no
  When you start to give the baby baths in a full sized tub, you can get
"spout guards" to protect the child from bumping into it.  You can also
get things that cover the knob(s) that can prevent a bad burn, should
the child pull on the faucet (accidentally, or on purpose).  And, of
course, you need a non-skid mat or non-skid stickers on the bottom
of the tub.  No matter how you try, kids always wind up standing in
the tub.     
  There are all manner of specialty things, from latches for 'fridges,
microwaves, and ovens, to guards for the front of a stove, to VCR
locks (keeps the child from pushing in fingers, pizzas, blocks, and
oatmeal).  Whether or not you need them depends on your child, yourself,
and your house.  A locking file cabinet can be a great addition to your
house -- it may not look good, but a metal one can be used to lock up
cleaners and other dangerous objects.
  I really recommend the Perfectly Safe catalog. You can scan thru the
catalog and learn a lot. 
  Sometimes creativity and a few supplies are all you need.  If you have
a vertical "stack" of drawers with handles, you can run a broomstick
down thru them; by the time the child can get past it, you may not
need it anymore.  We have a sort of free standing wet bar with sides
that swing out to reveal a collection of glassware, etc, and my 
daughter **loved** to open it and throw the stuff around.  There was
no obvious way to use a commercial latch of any kind to secure it,
but it finally occurred to me that I could jam a matchstick in the
hinge, and she hasn't figured it out yet (she is 19 months).  
  And so it goes...a parent's work is never done!  Hope all this is
helpful.  If you have any specific questions, let me know, and I'll
do my best.


From: Karen

We have purchased something called a Child Safe for medicines (actually we
have three - one in each bathroom for medicine, and one in the kitchen for

It is a plastic box (~16" x 10" ?) with a hinged door.  The latch is on the 
inside; in order to reach the latch to open the door you have to have an 
adult-length finger.  The placement of the latch (e.g. the finger length 
required to reach the latch) is adjustable with a simple screwdriver.

This seems much safer to me than the simple cabinet latch.  We have those
too, and so far our 1-yr old has not figured them out, but I'm sure she's

The Child Safe is available from the Right Start catalog (1-800-548-8531) for
around $20 or $30 ... I can't remember.


From: Gordon Berkley, Motorola Communications Israel Ltd., Tel Aviv

Don't forget bookcases!  We can mark Azriel's (1-yr minus 4-days) growth by
which shelf he insists on emptying.  *sigh*

Now if he would only READ them instead if EATING them... :-}


From: Mike Fields, The Boeing Co., MMST, Seattle, Wa.

First, it is important to realize that there is no such thing as 
"child proof" (adult proof yes, but it can't stop a child!).  The 
best thing to do is get down on your hands and knees, crawl around the
house looking for anything you can to hurt yourself with.  It's 
amazing the things you can find down at that level!!  There are
a number of books out which cover a lot of this stuff.  If you can 
find it, the "Childwise Catalog" is pretty good.  As our
pediatrition told us at our son's 1 year checkup "you have done a good
job of raising him so far, however, for the second year, your job 
changes.  It becomes one of suicide prevention!"  He wasn't kidding!!


I got the childwise catalog over at walden books, however, it is several years
old, and many places don't seem to carry it.  Try calling the larger book stores
in your area.   One thing we did that has worked well for us - we have a raised
hearth on our woodstove (brick).  I put that polyfoam pipe insulation you can
get for protecting pipes from freezing over the edges (cut a 90 degree section
out so it fits the edge.  You can glue it on or whatever works for you.  It also
works well on the legs of our 80 gallon aquarium - provides a reasonable amount
of padding.  I built a stereo cabinet in the corner of the living room that
hinges out on a piece of water pipe.  This allows me to have easy access to
the back and yet when it is closed, little hands can not reach anything!!
Works great.  The other thing I have done for some wires (aquarium etc) is to
use that white 2 inch PVC pipe used for built in vacs.  I run the wires thru
that with the 90 degree fitting on the end over the outlet.  Keeps the busy
little hands elsewhere (and into other trouble I might add ;-) ).  One last
thing that I did was to drill several holes in the upper track of the sliding
glass door which go thru the top edge of the door with a 1/4 inch drill.  I then
made a "pin" from a piece of 1/4 inch steel (a bolt would work).  By proper
choice of location, I can pin the door closed (providing additional security),
5 inches open (ventilation) or all the way open.  This allows you some
ventilation while at the same time, the little ones can not get their fingers
crunched in the door!


Yesterday (1-6-92) on a local station (KOMO) there was a show called
"Northwest Afternoon" (60min).  They were talking to parents who had
either lost children due to drowning, poisoning or had had close calls.
There were some scary things that were brought up I thought I would
mention for the benifit of the net.  One child was essentially a
vegatable due to baby oil!!  When he was 17 mo?, he drank a bottle
of baby oil (mineral oil).  No one was too worried at the time, however,
within the hour, his breathing became irregular etc.  Turns out he
had apparently coughed and inhaled some into his lungs.  By the time
they got him stable, he was a vegatable due to brain damage - very sad
to see.  The Dr. on the show mentioned the fact that if they eat a
whole tube of toothpaste, it is possible to get a lethal dose of
flouride.  They also had several people who had lost their children
on a waterbed, and drowning in a tub with just a few inches of water.
They stressed the importance of knowing what to do for a choking
infant (face down on your leg with their head protruding past your
knee - three sharp slaps with your open hand in the middle of their
back, then listen for sounds of breathing).  One woman had almost lost
her daughter when she choked on a piece of carrot which lodged in
her windpipe - the child was ok, but it took surgical measures to
remove the carrot.  Peanuts were mentioned as the worst for kids, since
if they are inhaled, they will lodge in the lung and breakup.  This may
require removal of part of the lung to get!!  They also mentioned
draino (lye crystals) - if a child eats some, DON'T give them water -
it activates the stuff!!  Call poison  control IMMEDIATLY!!!

That is all I can remember (I missed the first 1/2 of the show), but
it was spooky listening to the people talk about the baby oil etc (they
sued Johnson and Johnson and only partially won - they got money, but
J & J would not put a warning on the label which is what they really
wanted to have to prevent others from the same thing (It was sad - they
had both boys there - they were twins - the "ok" one was alert,
interactive and really a nice little boy - the one that got the oil
obviously had no idea even where he was :-(   )


Greetings misc.kidders!  I just found this little item in rec.woodworking
where a discussion has been going on about making things for kids/babies.
The issue it addresses is a key to us all!!

> From: bl528@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Ken Meinken)
> Subject: Children's furniture - URGENT!
> Date: 28 Feb 92 15:21:19 GMT
> Organization: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, (USA)

>  Recently there have been a number of messages in the newsgroup
>  regarding children's furniture and suggesting that items like
>  toyboxes are more useful, along with a warning about safe design
>  to prevent falling lids from banging fingers, etc.


>  I used to be a volunteer EMT.  One of my early life squad runs was
>  on a young child (put to bed for a nap) who got out of bed and
>  crawled into the toy box and fell asleep there.  He never awoke.
>  Despite our CPR efforts and the hospital's efforts, he could not
>  be revived.

>  Although its been 15 years and a thousand other emergency runs have
>  come and gone, I still shudder every time I see an unventilated
>  toy box in a store.

>  Ken

at our son's 1 year checkup, the Dr. told us that our job had changed- it
had gone from simply taking care of a baby to suicide prevention!  He
wasn't kidding!!

Hope this helps even 1 child!!


From: Linda J Young, AT&T Bell Laboratories

Add another story to your list:  I recently *watched* my two year
old daughter open a "child-proof" cap for decongestant medicine.
I *know* the cap was properly put on, because I tested it before
she reached up and got it.  Incredible....these "child-proof" caps!


From: Susan Iwanaga, Univ. of Hawaii

we had a unique babyproofing of our home.  one of our friends, who had a 
two year old toddler, volunteered to "lend" us their daughter.  the family
ame to visit and while tanya roamed the house, one of the adults was always
following her.  she would point at unusual things - anything that caught
her eye.  we found a dime, a penny, some spray cans that had been missing
for a while.  i guess that, as we grew older, what was unusual for kids
became normal for us, so when we went down on all fours to look, we missed
all that.


From: Jim Franklin, Kodak Electronic Printing Systems /!!jwf

We had a very close call with our TV several years ago.  The TV and VCR
are on a very stable TV stand, and I judged that the stand could not be
overturned by a toddler.  This turned out to be a correct judgement, but
I didn't consider the TV itself.

The TV is a standard 19" color model.  So much of the electronics in
modern TV's is solid state that the picture tube itself is the only
component with any significant weight.  Even though these things are 18"
deep, the center of gravity is VERY close to the front of the cabinet. If
you pull down on the top front of a TV, it only takes a small amount of
force (20 lbs) to topple it forward.

So, I was in the living room doing something when Brian (then ~18mo)
stepped onto the VCR, grabbed the top of the TV, and tried to climb
higher. The TV tipped forward, he fell backwards onto the floor, and the
TV fell 2' and landed flat on his chest and thighs.  As I ran over I
thought he was dead.

In this case we just got lucky -- he wasn't hurt at all, just scared.
The TV landed flat, so there were no broken bones, not even bruises.  And
it landed on his toddler "beer belly", not his head, which would have
shattered the picture tube with disastrous consequences.

That night I put eye-bolts in the back of the TV and fastened them to the
TV stand.  Oh.  I guess I need to say this for legal/ethical reasons:
messing with your TV can subject you to lethal electric currents, so don't
do this unless you know what you are doing.


From: Paul Griffiths, Pyramid Technologies, Mt. View, California.

During the last "big" quake, I found almost all my components toppled
or fell from their stands, off my computer desk etc. (Read: my house looked
as if it had been turn upside down) There was quite a bit of damage. 
 To prevent anything like this from happening again, I bought a few reels
 of industrial weight velcro and placed it all over my house, mating tv to
 stand, computer to desk etc... 
	It hadn't occured to me, until after I read this message, that I 
might also have just childproofed my house, for my daughter, who though still
very young and not so mobile, manages to generate at least a 7.0, in our
house. :)  I could round up the name of the company that supplies this stuff,
if you're interested.  


From: Clare Chu

I'd like to add something to the FAQ.  Beware of loose sheets and thin
shawls in the crib.  My baby managed to wrap one around his neck several
times while still very young.  I think he grabbed an end and turned over.
Luckily he was okay, but it's a potential danger.


From: David,  DavidM's Home Amiga Unix System!chasm!davidm || chasm!

Watch out for table cloths.  To a small child, these look like wonderful
"handles" for pulling one's self to a standing position.  Unfortunately,
also a very good way to pull all manner of "nasty" objects off the table.

We finally had to remove a little round, decorator table until Brandon
learned not to pull himself up by the tablecloth.

Oven doors also have the "convenient" handle on them.  Brandon scared
us one night when he pulled open the door to a hot oven.  (No injury,


From: Andrew Daviel

First, a bit of background.

In Britain, where I grew up, the household electricity is about 240 Volts. 
The electric outlets are somewhat kid-proofed, in that the live and neutral 
sockets have shutters on them operated by the ground pin, which is longer 
than the others. Some of the plugs on appliances have insulating material on 
the side of the pins, too, so that sliding a metal object behind an inserted 
plug is relatively safe. On the debit side, until recently moulded plugs were 
very rare, and most appliance plugs were fitted to the cord by 
people with little aptitude and inadequate tools.

In Canada, where I am living now, the electicity is 110 Volt (still lethal), 
and the outlets are cheaper, consisting of a round socket for the ground and 
two slots for the live and neutral. The slots are too small for fingers but 
just right for paperclips, knives, etc. The stores sell a wide variety of
gadgets to kid-proof your outlets. We have dozens of little plastic 
two-legged things that plug into the slots (for places we hardly ever use 
the outlet), clamp-like devices (for places we never take the appliance out, 
like an electric clock), rotating shutters (for places where appliances are 
plugged in frequently, but not for very long, like the vacuum cleaner), and 
lockable boxes that go over the outlet (for places where appliances stay in 
for some time but not continuously, like the computer. And then you can get 
Ground-Fault Interrupter (GFI or ELCB) breakers, which are supposed to trip 
if current goes down the live wire and not all of it came back the neutral 
wire, which we have in the bathroom and outside the house. I have never 
tried one to see if it works (by sticking my finger on a live wire), though 
supposedly it will cut the current before too much happens to you.

Now, what I was going to say:
We had a sewing machine set up on a table. The cord was secured in the outlet 
with one of the above-mentioned gadgets. Our 14-month old wanders in and 
pulls the cord out of the sewing machine. We were right there and took it 
away from her. Someone else might not be so lucky. There are many appliances 
where the cord has a socket on the end  which mates with a plug on the 
appliance (sewing machines, computers and electric kettles spring to mind). 
The holes in the socket are too small for fingers, but it is just possible 
that a toddler might put the end in his/her mouth, and be badly burnt if 
nothing else.

Later I secured the socket permanently to the machine with a Ty-Rap (a tough 
plastic whatsit that electricians use to secure cables, like the police on TV 
use to handcuff people). I think the machine is too heavy for her to pull 
down. I have also seen gadgets to clamp appliance cords to tables.

So, yet another thing to look for when you toddler-proof your home.


From: Maureen Busch, uucp  uunet!munsell!cairo!mbb

The latches that you attach inside the cabinet and cabinet door are
very popular, and work quite well.  Look for the metal ones, they
hold up better than the plastic ones.  Also, if you have cabinets
that are not solid wood (at the time, we had pressed particle board
with formica fronts - the simulated wood grain look), they are really
difficult to install because it is so hard to drill into them even
with a power drill.  Gerber makes a large latch (looks like a safety
pin or a combination lock) that you can loop through the handles of
two mated doors - these only work if the handles are fairly close


From: Mona Hatfield, David Taylor Research Center, Bethesda, MD

Try fireplace guards.  You'll have to hook them into the wall though, or she'll
be able to pull them down. I recommend the kind that have the very heavy mesh.


From: Judy Boxer, Bitstream, Inc., Cambridge, MA

I strongly recommend that anyone with children (and without!) install Ground
Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) plugs at all outlets in the kitchen, bathroom,
and outdoors!  They will stop the flow of electricity if an appliance touches
water, and prevent electrocution. They are easy to install (they come with
directions - but don't do it if you don't know how to turn off the main power
switch). If you can't do it yourself, it's well worth the money to have a
handyman or electrician do it for you.  These are the plugs you see in new
homes and hotels that have the test/reset button in the middle. They only cost
a few dollars and could save your child's life!

Also, if you already have these type of plugs, make sure you test them monthly.
It's easy: plug something in (nightlight, hair dryer) and press the test button.
It should stop working. Then press reset - it should start working again.


From: Ken Staffan, Eastman Kodak

>I strongly recommend that ... install (GFCI) plugs at all outlets in the
>kitchen, bathroom,                                        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Actually, you only need one per circuit, installed at the beginning of the
circuit.  All down-stream receptacles will be protected.  You can also 
accomplish this with a ground-fault circuit breaker on those circuits (if
you have breakers).  Also, I think the original advice still stands - no
sense testing a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) by actually having
an accident!


Those plastic links available in most toy stores - the ones that are approx
2" long with a slit in one side for linking in others - make good cabinet
latches when strung between handles (until the child learns how to undo them).

Long nylon belts - often marketed as luggage straps, etc., in department
or home improvement stores - work great for strapping shut free-standing
furniture with doors, such as desks or television and stereo cabinets.  The
buckle can be twisted around to the back to prevent easy access.

Besides temperature-monitoring faucets, etc., hot water burns can be avoided
by simply turning down the hot water tank thermostat, so that the hottest
water that can come out of a faucet is not hot enough to burn.  (I believe
that this is an energy saver, as well).

Tall, heavy furniture can topple and crush a child.  Open bookcases are 
one of the worst threats, because they can be toppled by a child climbing
up the shelves.  This can be made safer by using hooks & eyes to securely
anchor the top of the furniture to the wall.

Be conscious about leaving choking hazards laying around, such as open bowls
of hard candy, loose change, etc.

When taking care of poisons in the kitchen and bathrooms, don't neglect
the basement and garage - there's no time like the present!

Be aware of crib strangulation hazards:  bars too far apart (head can
be forced through & caught), loose/long bumper fastening straps (child
can get tangled in straps or caught under bumper), posts or other things
which can hook clothing near the top of the rails or end pieces (child
can be strangled by own clothing).

Watch out for furniture or items which can allow a child to climb up on
to a window sill or above, where the child can put weight on the glass
and/or fall through.

A couple kitchen things:

It's a good habit to get into to push all hazardous objects to the far
back of the counter (e.g. when putting down a knife, etc.)

If no other drawers are child-proofed, the knife drawer is a good one.  It's
also a good idea to wash and put away knives as soon as possible after 
using them.

Don't tempt fate.  It's not worth the risk of carrying the boiling spaghetti
water to the sink, even if you think the child is safely out of the path.
Have someone else pick the child up for a minute, or toss a ball into an
adjacent room to get them out of harms way long enough.

I didn't see many references to outdoor child-proofing, but I though I
might throw in a couple comments:

Outside hazards fall into about 3 categories - natural, such as poison
berries and plants, thorns, well holes, cliffs, water, etc., non-natural,
such as poisons, hot grills, stacked concrete blocks, flaking paint, 
tons of stuff in the typical garage, etc., and incidental.  The natural
and non-natural are pretty self-explanatory, the incidental, I wanted to
comment on because I've always been embarrassed about a near accident we
had.  In this category I would put things like not taking children for
rides on a riding lawn mower, etc.  I think it's a fairly good rule to not
have children around at all when power equipment is being used.  Our near
accident occurred when my wife and I were installing a new front walk and
stairway (the entrance to the house is on the second level).  This involved
moving a lot of dirt, and we were using a tractor and trailer to haul
the dirt around.  The baby was safely (!) sequestered a good distance 
away, napping in his playpen under a tree.  Everything was fine until
a sheared hitch pin sent a trailer full of dirt down the hill, with enough
momentum to make it all the way to the playpen.  How close?  It tore one 
side of the playpen.  It took us days to stop shaking, weeks before we
could talk calmly about it, and the feeling of dismay that it happened
has never left.  I guess the positive thing we can take away from it is
how hard it is to predict what can happen, and how fast things can happen.
Now, I would put this in the same category as not tempting fate in the
kitchen - the child _can't_ be hurt if he/she isn't there!


From: Christine, AT&T

Don't know if this is too late or not, but I remember some people
asking about fireplace hearth corner guards and table corner/coffeetable 
guards.  I just got this catalog, "One Step Ahead", that has such items.
Call them for a catalog at 1-800-950-5120 M-F 8am-8pm CST and
Saturdays 8am-4pm CST.  This is from their 1992 Holiday catalog.


From: Dave Fisher, Hughes Aircraft Company

Deantha ( wrote:

: We just acquired a house with an in-ground swimming pool.
: I need some ideas on how to make it *totally* kid proof.

Nothing short of filling it in will make it totally kid proof.

If you do decide to keep it, here are some ideas:

A pool alarm, which will sound if a child falls in.  I understand there
are a number on the market, but I'm afraid I can't recommend any
brands.  Anybody else?

Another idea is a locking cover; these kind of scare me too, though.
Kids may think it's fun to get underneath, and I wonder how well they

Swimming lessons are a good idea -- keep the gates locked, and make
sure that by the time your kids are old enough to climb fences they
are excellent swimmers.  Keep any ladders, etc., locked up.  Also, keep
fun looking pool toys locked up or out of sight to avoid temptation.

Also be sure that all the members of the family can swim and learn
CPR as well.

It sounds like your pool area is kind of a thoroughfare from the garage
to some part of the yard.  If this is so, I would strongly encougage you
to change this if at all possible.  If the pool area is only entered when
the pool is in use, and preferably only has one entrance, it will be a
lot easier to make sure it is always locked.  A bell, chime, or some
equivalent on the gate to the pool is also a good idea for those occasions
when someone leaves it unlocked.


From:	Cynthia L Macaluso

I just wanted to add a point about household sewing machines.  I often 
leave my sewing machine set up in my sewing room.  The man who fixes my 
machine told me recently that when he was a child, he "sewed" the needle of 
his mother's sewing machine through the palm of his hand.  He recommends 
ALWAYS pulling out the clutch (the turny wheel part on the side that you 
pull out when you want to wind a bobbin and not have the needle go up and 
down)when leaving the machine, even to answer the phone.  Unplugging it 
doesn't necessarily work; my kids (2 and 3 yrs) have plugged mine 
in...but they haven't figured out how to push in the clutch yet!
Without the clutch pushed in they can't make the needle go up and down.

From:  Diane T. Willis, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division

	My husband and I have learned something the hard way.  People
should be really careful of the rubber tips on door stops.  I couldn't
believe Nick crawled all around the house and stripped them off every
single door stop we have!  We also removed the rest of the stop from
the wall, since to point where the rubber tip goes could injure Nick,
if he were able to get it out of the wall and run with it.  It's a 
terrifying sight to see a small object in your child's mouth, and the
panic that hits you as you try to remove the object before he/she can


From:	mohotlips, America Online, Inc.

I just wanted to mention to you two things... I am the mother of a 2 year
old boy that has managed to get every kind of latch system off cabinets
and enter them.. even the one-piece gerber ones... He has also opened
child proof medicine lids... So beware...

Two helpful hints.... Electrical outlets are covered with the box type
device.. this makes it hard if you want to change something in the
outlet.. You must get the screwdriver and take the cover off... but it
prevents him from unplugging or plugging in something else... Very helpful
for us.. He removed the plugs and tried to plug other objects in the

Also, the door knob covers... He can work or remove all kinds except the
accordian type.... 1st Safety (I think).. Those are the only ones that he
can not remove.... Since he can unlock glass doors, we put an alarm system
on the front glass door in case he decides to unlock it and try to go


From:  Narelle Clark

After reading a comment about marking a child's growth by the books they 
can reach on the bookshelves, I recalled a sort of abstract child
proofing we have employed;
    Instead of sorting books according to size or author etc we now
    sort them in two ways i) big heavy ones at the base to encourage
    stability in the shelves and ii) classified by topic as suitable
    for a childs development. The higher the classification the further
    they are from the ground!


From: Susan Raymond, University of Michigan

Regarding the knives, I purchased a storage center I just love.  I ordered it 
from Brookstone:  hard to find products.  To describe it, it is appx. 8X12 
plastic board with dividers which fits about 8 knives.  It mounts to the 
inside of your kitchen cabinets with adhesive/or screws.  (I used the adhesive 
only and they are powerful).  I put them so high up that even if my daughter 
gets to the countertop, she won't be able to reach them.  I order two of them 
for about $24 (including shipping).  A note that if you have a Brookstone 
store near you, they did not carry this product.  Also, Brookstone is 
out-of-state for me, but the knife center ended up being manufactured in 

I bought a toilet-lock which I think would work just as well on a garbage can. 
 Again, this is an adhesive-based product.  Two straps about 3 inches long 
each which come together with a clasp.  I bought it a Toys R. Us.


From: Robin Netherton, Digital Gateway Systems

Perfectly Safe's number is 1-800-837-KIDS.
A similar company, The Safety Zone, is at 1-800-999-3030.
Also, these two children's-goods companies offer some safety devices:
   Right Start 1-800-LITTLE-1
   One Step Ahead 1-800-274-8440

My favorite childproofing item is a cabinet lock called Tot-Lok--it works 
like a regular lock, but it's activated by a magnet and there's no 
visible sign from the outside of the lock. Better than a key, and much 
better than the cabinet latches most people get stuck (literally) with. 

The company that makes Tot-Loks is:
        P.O. Box 99585
        Jeffersontown KY 40269-0585
toll-free in the U.S.: (800) 762-9030 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time

I bought mine at the Container Store, which has branches in Texas, 
Atlanta, Washington area, and Chicago. Or you can mail order by calling 
toll-free to (800) 733-3532, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time.

You can by a starter pack of one key and (I think) 2 locks, or buy keys 
and locks separately. The price works out the same either way, as I 

They're pricey and tricky to install, but worth the money and effort. We 
just bought our house and are planning more kids, so we figure the locks 
are going to be in for a lot of use :-) !


From: Julie McNulty

Another category of things that should be put away out of reach in the
kitchen are boxes of foil, plastic wrap, storage bags, and the like.
Many of the boxes have *very* sharp edges, and the plastic bags and wrap
pose a tremendous suffocation danger.

With regards to securing cords for lamps, etc., most hardware stores
carry "cord covers."  These are long tubes with one flat side that has
adhesive to attach to a wall.  I usually see them in the lighting
section.  You can cut them to the appropriate length with a utility
knife, and they can be painted to be more inconspicuous.  I've seen them
in two sizes, narrow for a one or two standard cords, and wide, for a lot
of cords or cable, such as you would have with a computer.  You run the
cords through them and stick them to the wall, and can prevent a lot of


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