When you bring home a new purchase, you typically expect that it’ll keep your household cleaner, better organized, more entertained, or that it will somehow boost the functionality or style of your space.
But things aren’t so simple when babies and children around. Here are some common household items that may pose unexpected risks to young kids:
In March, the Consumer Products Safety Commission renewed a warning about the dangers of toy chests, hope chests and other similar storage chests, whose lids can automatically latch shut and pose a suffocation hazard. Older chests have the additional risk of their lids closing suddenly, which can entrap a child as she reaches inside.
What you can do: Remove latching locks, look to see if your chest has ventilation holes, and check for proper lid support; you may need to remove or replace the support if it doesn’t hold the lid up in every position, the CPSC says.
Look around. There are likely dozens of electronics in your home with those coin-sized “button” batteries, which, according to the non-profit Safe Kids Worldwide, are responsible for 84 percent of battery-related visits to the ER. The risk isn’t necessarily one of choking, the organization says, but burning. Safe Kids says when a button battery gets stuck in a child’s throat, the child’s saliva “triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can burn the esophagus.”
What you can do: Identify the button-battery-powered remote controls, watches, and other similar items in your home, and keep them out of reach.
From a child’s point of view, a TV stand or tall dresser presents a new climbing challenge, which is also why these items pose serious tip-over hazards for kids.
What you can do: The CPSC says to place TVs on sturdy, low bases and to house remote controls elsewhere to avoid the “reach up and grab” temptation for kids. Secure tall furniture pieces by anchoring them to the floor or a wall with appropriate hardware, the agency says. Consumer Reports also mentions that you can secure your TV with an anti-tipping strap, or mount your flat-screen on the wall.
Named among the CPSC’s top hidden home hazards, window blind cords and chains are a strangulation risk for children.
What you can do: If you’re in the market for new window coverings, choose cordless models. But if you already have blinds installed, you can modify them, the CPSC says. You can do this by cutting any looped cords and installing tassels on each end, or purchasing an accessory called a “tie-down device” to tautly anchor the cord to a window frame or wall.
Simple precautions can go a long way toward keeping your little ones safer from common household hazards.