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Health & Safety

Babyproofing Checklist: Is Your Home Safe?

Here's how to make sure you've covered all your safety bases

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It can happen in the blink of an eye. One minute your kid is right next to you playing with blocks and the next, he's pulling down a ladder bookshelf. In fact, every 30 minutes, tipped furniture or a falling TV sends a child to the emergency room, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission site Anchor It, which explains how to secure TVs and heavy furniture. Keep kids safe with these childproofing tips for furniture and more seemingly innocent items:

Secure dressers, shelves, and other heavy objects. We think of dressers as being so sturdy that they're unlikely to tip over, but many are not. A child can easily be injured by or pinned under a fallen dresser, and other shelving should be assessed, too. "When baby-proofing your home, make sure to check your shelves," says Sage Singleton, a family and community safety expert from SafeWise, a company that advises families on home security and safety issues. "Secure all heavy objects, bookcases, entertainment centers, and shelves to the wall studs with nylon straps that are designed for this purpose."

Lock down small objects, too. "Secure art, frames, and mirrors by using wire and eye screws," says Singleton. But it's not just the big objects. "Secure your microwave and stereo as these are also heavy objects that could fall and cause harm."

Keep cabinet and toilet locks handy. "At home, parents have likely safeguarded and locked all windows, cabinets, and drawers. However, when traveling, it's a smart practice to carry a few extra locks in the diaper bag," Singleton says. "Cabinet, window, door, and toilet locks are can help prevent your baby from getting hurt."

Bullet-proof the batteries. Make sure battery covers are secure on remote controls, key fobs, musical books, and greeting cards, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Store devices that contain small button-cell batteries out of reach and sight of children since button batteries can cause severe harm if swallowed.

Lock up laundry detergent. Those convenient laundry detergent pods are very dangerous if ingested. The AAP recommends keeping these products (as well as any other products that may be harmful if swallowed) locked up and out of reach of children. Also, keep the number for your local poison control center programmed into your phone.

Test smoke alarms. All smoke alarms in the house should be in working order. Replace batteries at least once a year and test them once every six months.

Lower water heater temperature. This simple move ensures that little hands won't inadvertently change the temperature in a bath and get burned.

Secure trash. This is one parents don't often consider, but since trash can contain spoiled food, sharp objects, or batteries, it should be kept out of reach of little explorers or given a lock that will keep it from being accessible.