How to child-proof every room in your house

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 Photo: Getty Images

The statistics are scary. Every year, about 30,000 children end up in hospital, injured in accidents that happened in home environments. That's according to Kidsafe, which lists potential risks around the house as everything from poisons in unlocked cupboards to dangling blind cords, balconies, toppling furniture and door jams. 

Here are some suggestions to begin a safety check of your home – a lot depends on how old the children are, but those under five are at the greatest risk.

Grab a notepad and pencil – and then get down on your knees. You need to embark on a little person's tour of your home, and seeing the world from their perspective is a good place to start.

Also remember that these all apply to places your little one will be visiting, such as grandparents' and relatives homes.

1. Unsteady TVs and hiding-place traps

Take care with objects that could fall or be pulled down. Secure TVs and keep remote controls in easy-to-reach places, though make sure the batteries are well-secured. 

Keep toys in low places and be aware of toy boxes that might become airtight traps. 

Potential traps can be found in other rooms, too. Consider putting locks on laundry doors, or door locks on low doors of washing machines and dryers. And, believe it or not, the fridge is another hiding place a child can get caught in.

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2. Bed falls

Use roll protectors when a child graduates to a bigger bed to increase security. If you have bunks, check they comply with Australian Standards, and don't let children under seven sleep up top. 

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Even when your child gets older, avoid hanging anything heavy above the bed that might fall on their head.

3. Toddlers and toppling

Shelves can easily topple if a youngster tries to climb them, or holds onto them for support, so secure them to the wall wherever possible. Built-in furnishings might be a worthwhile investment.

When children are learning to walk, they often stumble and they often hold onto anything at hand. This is worth investigating on your hands and knees. Consider sharp corners at your child's eye level, and glass-top tables and stools that can overbalance.

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Follow safety guidelines, both when choosing a cot and when installing and using it. Among the issues to look out for are anything that can fall into cots.

Be sure to keep curtain and blind cords away from cots (they should always be tethered up high out of reach in any case) as they are a strangulation hazard.

Babies and young children can also be interested in power cords; keep them out of reach and use electricity point protectors.

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5. Dust mites and mould

While health issues caused by allergies are not included in the statistics for home safety, they pose a health risk that should not be overlooked.

Floorboards help reduce dust mite allergens in your child's sleeping space, because they are easier to keep completely clean.

Linen choices can also make a difference, such as mattress and pillow protectors.

Also look out for mould; it can be reduced with techniques such as ventilation, humidity reduction and winter heating, as well as fixing leaks.

6. Windows, glass and balconies

Cords need to be kept up high and well-secured away from reach. 

Window locks can keep a room ventilated while ensuring the windows can't be opened up too wide. Check the safety guidelines. 

And while you're thinking about glass, consider if glass panels in doors and windows meet breaking standards – because little people trip and fall over an awful lot.

Balconies are another checkpoint for fall prevention; look at railing heights and consider if railings can be climbed. Also think about pots and furniture next to the railings that can be climbed and look at securing access to balconies altogether if you are unsure of the safety.

7. Fun policing

Creating a magical play world in a child's room can be achieved with safety – consider the way up to a higher level and make sure any railings comply. Of course, guard gates should be used on all stairways for children under a certain age.

Curiosity is natural to youngsters, so make sure to keep poisons and medicines out of harm's way – start your search in laundries, bathrooms and kitchens, as well as garages and tool sheds.

While you're outside, look at pool safety (a huge percentage of Australian pools are estimated to not comply with safety rules). This also applies to paddling pools and inflatable pools - empty these as soon you're finished playing.

Also check play equipment, analyse driveway access, trim sharp branches at eye-level and consult garden centres about poisonous plant dangers.

8. Decorating above the bed

Keeping heavy wall items away from beds doesn't mean looking boring. Alternatives to decorating over-bed spaces are bright colours and simple lightweight letters (foam if possible and attached with strong glue), or painted on. 

Talk with paint and DIY consultants about low-VOC paints and using safer varnishes and glues if decorating within a child's reach.

9. Sharp objects

Knives and other cutting implements, including scissors and razor blades, need to be kept out of grabbing distance.

Also be aware of the ways toddlers can climb in kitchens – drawer handles can be used like ladder rungs. Safety barriers can be used to protect stovetops and latches can be bought to childproof oven doors, drawers and cupboard doors.

10. Bathrooms, water, hot things

Ask a plumber to install safety devices to control the temperature of your hot water.

Consider slip risks in wet areas and safe ways of reaching taps.

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Also think about drowning risks anywhere there is water, including ponds and buckets (many children have drowned in nappy buckets).

Empty hot kettles and keep them switched off at the wall. Replace tablecloths with placemats to stop little fingers pulling on the cloth, therefore reducing the chance of hot-liquid spills and other accidents. Put the hot iron up and away from reach once you've finished using it. Also think about access to heaters and fireplaces.

There's a lot to consider when protecting our children – and this is by no means a comprehensive list. It is simply a list of starting point ideas to get you thinking about safety and we encourage you to ask professionals for help.