Assessing Your Home The following is a childproof assessment and inspection checklist from the American Academy of Pediatrics, with additional input from Dr. Co.
1. House Survey: Conduct a “full-house survey” every six months. Every home is different, and no checklist is complete and appropriate for every child and every household.
2. Cribs and Playpens: Never put the baby in the same bed as the parents, especially before the parents sleep. Avoid cribs painted with lead-filled paint (usually metal cribs), and go for plastic cribs or those with nets. If your child has a playpen, make sure it has small-mesh sides (less than ½ inch gaps) or closely spaced vertical slats (less than 3/8 inches). This lessens chances of getting the child’s hand stuck in the holes, which can cause abrasions, lacerations, and other physical injuries.
3. Stairs, Gates, and Walkers: Stairs must be protected with non-accordion gates (latch-ons and lift-and-lock gates) made of plastic rather than wood to avoid splinters. Putting children in a baby walker with wheels is highly discouraged until the child is at least able to stand with assistance, or able to stand and hold on to an object to glide himself through a place. Also never use a walker near a staircase. If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn’t have V-shaped grills that are large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.
4. Toys and small objects: Make your house free from small parts, toys, and balloons that could serve as choking hazards. Inspect your child’s toys for sharp or detachable parts. Remove or throw away broken toys. Minimize stuffed toys in a child’s room—they are dust keepers and can induce allergies. Clean toys regularly.
5. Dangerous products and liquids: They must be stored out of reach (in cabinets with safety latches or locks, on high shelves, or utility rooms and garages). Never put hazardous materials (such as kerosene, used oils, and other chemicals) in reused bottles of soft drinks, beverage, and the like, as they might be mistaken by the child as drinks.
6. Outside: Always put a baby in a child-friendly car seat. Never seat a child in front of a driver or in the front passenger seat, as this puts him in grave danger especially on sudden stops or crashes. Use carriers and safety harnesses to keep children close. Be cautious of public play pens, as these may be breeding grounds for many diseases and allergies.
7. Emergencies: Teach your housemates and children to call emergency hotlines. Particularly be aware of the Poison Control Center (in the Philippine General Hospital, with telephone number 524-1078) and your pediatrician’s contact information. Also have a reviewed and rehearsed escape plan in case of emergencies such as fires.
Dr. Benjamin Co, professor of pediatrics and clinical pharmacology at U.S.T.