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Child safe furniture

Advice on what to look for when choosing baby safe furniture for your home, plus the opportunity to purchase a range of childproof products such as child locks and safety gates.
As your baby becomes mobile and begins to explore, safety at home becomes a crucial concern.

Safety barriers

Safety barriers are mainly used to stop your child falling down stairs and are designed to protect your child up to the age of approx 24 months. There are two types of barrier:
  • Walk-through gates - These either have an integral frame that extends to grip the gap securely and a swing door, or are gates with hinges, which attach to the wall. A two-way opening gate offers more flexibility and convenience. Choose a gate with a self-locking catch and check that it will fit your stairway. Extension kits are available for most gates. Make sure that it is attached according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Barriers - Block a gap and are easily detachable but they have no gate for access. Adults may be tempted to climb over them rather than release and then re-fix them, which makes them a hazard when used at the top of the stairs.
Locks

Childproof locks - A range of childproof locks are available to prevent accidents or injury in your home.

Window locks

Either keep windows shut securely or allow them to be opened to a limited degree for ventilation, yet still prevent small children from escaping through them. Check that the lock you purchase is suitable for your windows, particularly double-glazed windows and make sure they do not present a barrier to exiting the home in the event of a fire.

Cupboard door and drawer locks

It is particularly important to lock cupboards containing hazardous substances such as cleaning fluids and medicines as well as draws containing cooking utensils and knives. Purpose-made locks are inexpensive, although designs vary. Some are screw fixed, which take a while to fit, but are durable; some are attached by adhesive pads, which are easy to fit, but may come unstuck in time; others are detachable. Unfortunately different styles of door or cupboard require different styles of lock. Choose a style that fits and is easy for you to use.

Fridge/freezer locks

Protect children from bumping into an open fridge door and prevent accidents with any breakable objects inside. They are generally fitted with adhesive pads and are convenient to use.

TV and video locks

Protect a toddler from accidents and potential electric shocks and will also protect your valuable equipment from damage. They may block the video-cassette slot, or shield the full length of the video player to protect the slot and the controls. Check that when fitted, the appliance can still be operated via the remote control.

Toilet lid lock

Prevents young children from playing with the toilet, falling in or hurting themselves on a falling seat or lid.

Safety guards

Safety guards will help you protect your child from burns or injury from heat and power appliances.

Fire guards

Essential if you have any type of fire in your home. They should be fixed to the wall on either side of a fire or fireplace. Although many fire guards can be adjusted to fit a range of widths, check that the guard you buy is suitable for your style of fire and make sure that it is firmly secured.

Cooker and hob guards

Designed to prevent your child reaching up and pulling saucepans down from your cooker hob. Guards vary from simple metal rails around the hob to projecting shelves that prevent hands from reaching up and over. Always remember to turn saucepan handles away from the edge of the hob.

Socket guards

Stop children receiving electric shocks from poking objects into plug sockets. There are two basic types of socket guard; one fits straight into the socket like a plug, the other covers the entire socket unit. The plug style is ideal for a little used socket, whereas a socket guard may be more convenient for frequent use.

Cable tidies

Will help prevent children from tripping over cables and playing with them. They usually come in packs and can be used to secure trailing leads to a wall or to bundle cables neatly together.

Pet guard

If you have a pet, such as a cat, a mesh pet net will discourage them from jumping into a pram or cot. A smaller mesh net is also available to protect babies from insects and can be fitted to a buggy if required.

Glass safety

Where possible, remove glass furniture such as glass coffee tables while you have young children in the house. Glass in windows, doors and in furniture that cannot be removed should be made safe.

Safety glass

If possible when you're buying new or replacement glazing put in safety glass, especially for internal or patio doors. This toughened glass rarely breaks, but if it does it shatters into small pieces, which are relatively harmless.

Safety film

Will provide additional protection for glass doors, windows and glass furniture. It consists of a self-adhesive, transparent film that prevents glass from shattering when it breaks.

Transfers

Any coloured sticker or transfer attached to a glass area will remind children that the glass is there and help prevent them from walking into it.

Fire safety

Smoke detectors

Should be installed near your child's bedroom as well as in the other recommended areas in your home. Check that your smoke detectors carry the British Standards 'kitemark' and look for those with an alarm test facility and a 'battery low' warning signal. Other fire safety items include:

Fire blanket

Useful to smother small domestic fires and providing emergency first aid.

Fire extinguisher

Small extinguishers are available to tackle wood, plastic, paper, grease, oil, petrol and live electrical fires. It is essential that these items are fitted and used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Having a practised escape plan for getting you and your family out of the house in the event of a fire can also be a life-saver.

Accident prevention

General precautions include moving heavy or breakable objects from a child's reach and preventing children from climbing shelving units or pulling objects down on themselves. Big or heavy objects that are not easily moved, such as a television set, should be secured to their stand or a unit for maximum stability. You should also be extra vigilant about where you place hot drinks and glasses when children are around. Additional items that are available to help protect your toddler from suffering bumps and trapped fingers include:

Corner protectors

These are normally rounded plastic or rubber corner pieces that can be fitted with adhesive pads to the corners of your furniture.

Door protectors

Can be fitted on the inside door hinge to prevent trapping and over the top of a door to prevent the door from slamming shut on fingers accidentally.

Light switch adaptors

For older children you might consider adapting light switches to enable your child to reach and turn on the light. These are particularly helpful along hallways and for lavatory visits during the night.

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