Children and pets are a joy, but they also bring a new set of precautions with them. Sometimes we forget that things we deem as safe are actually unsafe for others. If your family is soon to grow, make sure you familiarize yourself with the best ways to child and pet proof your home in preparation for your new addition.
In the Home
Children and animals have the capacity to get into everything – nothing is off limits if it is accessible. To help prevent any kind of issues, ensure that anything that shouldn’t be played with or chewed up is put away in a cabinet that cannot be easily accessed. Cleaning supplies should always be stored out of arm’s reach and preferably in a cabinet with a lock.
Household plants can also pose a risk to children and pets. Certain plants are toxic to animals - Asian Lilies, which are popular in flower bouquets, can kill cats. Other common household plants (Aloe, Asparagus Fern, Begonia, Bird of Paradise, English Ivy, Caladium, Cutleaf Philodendron, Corn Plant and others) are some of the most toxic houseplants for pets. When it comes to plants that are dangerous to both children and pets, keep Peace Lilies, Devil’s Ivy, Sago Palm, Caladium, Poinsettia, English Ivy, and Cyclamen out of reach.
If your home has a fireplace (wood or gas), invest in a fireplace screen to prevent burns and other messes that can result from small children or animals playing in or near the fireplace.
Windows naturally attract a child’s attention. Make sure they are secured to prevent a child breaking the glass; windows on a second level should have extra security to ensure children cannot fall out of them. If you have blinds, secure the cord or string out of reach of small children to prevent the threat of strangle.
In the Bathroom
Bathrooms and laundry rooms are essential to the functioning of the home, but they also pose a lot of issues for children and pets. Cleaners, detergents, fabric softeners, bleach, medications, vitamins, dental floss, and fluoride toothpaste can all be harmful and toxic for humans and animals. If you can, store as many items as possible up high or in a cabinet to prevent someone getting into them.
It’s also important to remember to keep doors on appliances (like the washer and dryer) shut and if possible locked when not in use as both pets and children can climb into them.
In the Kitchen
For many households, the kitchen serves as a popular gathering place and a room that gets a lot of traffic by every member of a family. There are a number of hazards in the kitchen for children and pets that can easily be looked over. While human members of the family benefit from a diverse diet, dogs and cats do not have the same luxury. Many foods children love are toxic to pets: grapes, raisins and avocados are all bad for dogs, and other items like dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, raw salmon, onions, garlic, coffee, and sugar alternative xylitol are all toxic for dogs.
Aside from food, many kitchen gadgets can be harmful to both children and pets (like knives, graters and other items that cut or have sharp edges), and while many children and pets would consider the garbage can an amazing new discovery, it can also be a reservoir of disease that can leave every member of the family sick. Keep garbage cans locked or stored in a cabinet to prevent little hands or paws finding it.
Other items in the kitchen that can be harmful are twist ties, plastic bags and other plastic or metal pieces. Keep as many things stored up high or in a locked cupboard to prevent harm.
In the Garage
The garage can often be forgotten when baby or pet proofing is concerned. The garage is a must when it comes to readying your home for a child or pet, especially if you spend any time in it. Chemicals for vehicles and yards can all be life threatening for children and pets, and many yard tools that cut or dig can maim anyone, especially little kids or animals who have been left unattended. If you can, invest in multiple storage and shelving options to help keep all hazards out of reach.
Having a child or getting a pet is a life changing event for anyone. As part of being a responsible parent, ensure your home is as safe as possible for your loved ones, especially those that can’t take care of themselves. And remember – invest in as many baby gates as possible, because they work wonders for children and pets!