9 Home Safety Tips for New Parents

September is designated National Baby Safety month, and while parents are concerned with little ones' wellbeing all year, it serves as an important reminder of precautions families should take to make their home a risk-free haven. Whether you're expecting or already have your bundle of joy, here are nine important (and easy to implement) ways to make your home safe for the whole family.

Store Any Glass Furniture
According to Consumer Reports, "an estimated 20,000 people (most of them children) are treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained from glass furniture." Unfortunately, unlike glass shower doors, there is no requirement that coffee tables, side tables, or any other furniture be made of safety glass (the type of glass that breaks into small pieces instead of large shards). You can play it safe by storing glass furnishings until your child is old enough to understand the danger.

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Fix Window Blind Cords
Despite a number of window cord requirements issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission over the past 20 years, children continue to suffer injuries and strangulation deaths on mini-blinds and draperies. Even if the cords are separated, they can easily knot and tangle-providing a strangulation hazard. Invest in a window blind winder like the one shown here ($10 at CSN Stores.com), which safely and conveniently stores blind cords and automatically retracts when you push its button.

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Be Water Weary
In 2008, the World Health Organization reported that "more than 175,000 kids and teens drown annually-with children under five at the greatest risk." If you have a pool or hot tub, surround it with a locked fence at least five feet high. Also, install alarms on all doors leading from the house to the pool area. Finally, keep the swim zone free from toys and other objects that may lure a little one near. But large bodies of water are not the only threat. Babies and very young children can literally drown in a bucket or bowl of water, so make sure no water hazards are easily accessible.

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Childproof the Cabinets
Cupboards enclose everything from toxic cleaning supplies to heavy baking pans to adult medication, so it's important that you keep inquisitive little ones from accessing these hidden hazards by installing baby locks on every drawer-not just lower ones, but also upper drawers kids can get to simply by climbing chairs. You can opt for a safety latch or a lock-and-key set like the KidCo Adhesive Mount Magnet ($5.50 at Amazon.com) shown here.

Install Window Safety Guards
Since 1990, there have been 120 window fall-related deaths among children between the ages of one and ten years old, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). You can prevent potential falls by installing window guards, stops, ledges, or any combination of these throughout the house. A good rule of thumb is to place guards (like the $40 one shown here from Bed Bath & Beyond) on windows you tend to open for ventilation and locks on windows you usually keep closed.

Corral the Kiddies Away from Potential Danger Zones
Set up safety gates at the entrance of each staircase, around the fireplace, and at irregular room openings. Purchase dividers that have vertical railings-not accordion-style slats, which pose a strangulation hazard. Likewise, place barriers or netting in the front yard or driveway to keep kids and their toys out of the street.

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Secure Items That Can Topple

Between 1990 and 2007, an estimated 264,200 children in the U.S. were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries caused by televisions and furniture tipping, according to a study recently published in Clinical Pediatrics. You can avoid such accidents in your home by bolting or attaching furniture to the wall with safety straps (which you can find at stores like The Home Depot); installing drawer stops to keep them from pulling out all the way; and placing heavier items on lower shelves to prevent tip-over. Also, consider putting the TV on a lower stand. If you're in the market for new furniture, look for pieces with wide legs and solid bases. Finally, don't tempt toddlers with toys placed atop dressers or TVs.

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Cover Electrical Outlets
Electrical outlets are typically installed at or near a child's eye level, which entices kids to stick everything from little fingers to tiny toys into sockets. According to a 1997 estimate by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 560 electrocution fatalities at outlet sites (86% which involved children ages one to four years old). Unfortunately, plastic outlet prong coverings-which are easily removed by two-year-olds-do little to avert accidents. To keep curious kids away, invest in tamper-resistant outlet covers like the one from KidCo shown here ($9 for set of three). These easy-to-install wall plates include behind-the-face plastic shutters, which are designed to stay shut except when you need to insert an electrical cord.

Put High Latches on Doors

Keep kids from crawling or walking right out the front door or opening the door to any "off-limits" areas by installing overhead locks or latches. Most childproof latches come as safety hook-and-eyes, barrel bolts, and flip locks-all which are easily secured to the door frame. Also, consider installing bi-fold locks on bi-fold doors that can pinch little fingers.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.