Tips for Kid-Proofing Your 21st Century Home
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Any parent with a newborn baby knows almost by instinct how to baby-proof their home, making it safe by installing outlet covers, eliminating small items that could be choked on, and installing gates at the top and bottom of stairs. But even for families with older children, kid-proofing is an important step. A child under age five falls down the stairs and is taken to the hospital every six minutes in the United States, according to a CBS News report.
After age five, the need for precautions can become less urgent, but older kids can still discover plenty of ways to find danger, or at least get into trouble. Even if you yourself don’t have children, chances are your home will be visited by a youngster at some point, so it’s good to know what to look out for, now more than ever. With modern technology, children have more avenues for mischief than ever before. There are likely plenty of common insurance claims in your neighborhood associated with common household items.
This is the oldest rule in the book, but anything with heat — a fireplace, oven or candles — is a lesson in the importance of kid-proofing. For example, a friend’s young son innocently decided to store the family’s Tupperware in the oven, unbeknownst to his parents. When his father pre-heated the oven to make dinner, the kitchen filled with smoke from the melting plastic, setting off the fire alarm.
Lesson learned: Check to see if anything from junior’s home storage experiments is in the oven before turning it on.
Anyone with an iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, laptop computer or similar device knows how fast a credit card bill can go up if a child gets a hold of the gadget. Too many games require buying “credits” to stay alive, and opening an iTunes library can easily lead to accidentally downloading songs, albums, movies or complete TV shows at the touch of a button. And every parent knows how much children love buttons.
We recently watched a friend’s young daughter casually click on the “buy this app” button on her dad’s Kindle Fire. The device doesn’t have a parental control when connected to the Internet, so the best thing for a parent to do is to require a password before connecting. A secure password is another important step, and it shouldn’t be as simple as your child’s name or birthdate in reverse. Passwords should be long, complex and changed often. Password checkers can help determine how secure a password is.
With a remote control in their hands, children can flip around to all kinds of programming they shouldn’t be watching. Since 2000, all new TV sets larger than 13 inches are required to have a V-chip with parental controls. If you don’t want your five year old to adopt Snookie as a role model, this can be a helpful tool. Start by going to the menu key on the remote control and finding the “main” or “setup” menu. Then look for an option that says “V-chip,” “locks,” “block,” or “parental controls.”
What unexpected ways of getting into trouble has your child discovered? Share your child-proofing tips and stories below.
Check out Allstate’s Digital Locker app to inventory your prized possessions.