You probably don’t think of your home as a labyrinth of potential dangers, but quite a few everyday objects maraud as surprising home safety hazards. Sure, you have your knives safely stored out of the reach of chubby toddler hands, but is your dishwasher – where you wash all those sharp knives – toddler-proof?
Yeah, mine wasn’t either. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make you a bad parent or irresponsible caregiver; it just means we have to bone up on hidden safety hazards in the home. Here are the top dangers I’ve caught at my house. Help me out: What else am I missing?
Dun, dun, dun... Dishwasher
I already mentioned that dishwashers can provide easy access to sharp knives (and scissors and meat forks and...), and you also need to watch for access to detergent. Many dishwasher detergents, both liquid and powder, are corrosive and poisonous if swallowed. Keep these products way out of the reach of young children.
Is your fridge decorated with fun magnets, maybe even those cute letters that help kids learn to spell? Heads up, because these can be dangerous to kids, especially ones who still put everything in their mouths. Not only are they a choking hazard, but swallowing magnets can cause serious internal injuries. (Remember the rare earth magnets recall?)
I shudder to even think of this one, but corded blinds present a serious strangulation risk to young children. It's really not enough to just tie the cords up or snag them on a high hook; kids are industrious! Cordless blinds are available but can get pricey. At our house, we make do with curtains and a few sliding vertical blinds (no cord, just a solid plastic pull) to block the sun in key areas.
Pools & Hot Tubs
You may not be surprised that pools and hot tubs are dangerous, but I'm not only talking about drowning risk. Pool chemicals are very poisonous, so make sure they're locked up at all times. Additionally, faulty wiring, aging wiring, and malfunctioning equipment can cause electrocution; and poorly maintained drains can suck in hair and cause danger to young swimmers. Perform regular pool maintenance and always watch your children while they swim.
Millions of Americans fire up their massive grills to barbecue during warm weather, but few realize what a hazard these dream cooking machines can be. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates an annual 6,500 grill fires resulting in $27 million in property damage and unquantifiable injuries.
Extension cords cause far too many injuries and property damage each year, due to misuse and poor maintenance. Don't use cords that are frayed or faulty (warm to the touch), and never domino them together for extra length. Be sure to observe children and pets, as chewing on these cords can result in burns and electrocution.
Don't feel like a party-pooper if you restrict your kids' use of latex balloons. These popular birthday accoutrement are a leading cause of suffocation, as children often chew or pop balloons, and the latex can perfectly adhere to their throats to block breathing.
Passing clothes and shoes on to younger siblings, family and friends is great, but resist the urge to give or receive used gear. Older high chairs, bouncers, and other baby and toddler stuff might not meet current safety standards. Of particular concern are used carseats, which should never be used. They're likely expired, and if they've spent any time in the sun or experienced even a minor fender-bender, there may be invisible cracks in the seat that render them unsafe.