Unlike the kitchen, at first glance, your living room may look free and clear of any potential dangers to your child. But between bookshelves, television sets, and that warm and toasty fireplace you've got, your living room is rife with things that could injure your small child.
You know what that means, right? Time to childproof!
Here are 10 crucial things to keep in mind when making one of the most popular rooms in the house as safe as possible for your little one.
Danger Zone 1: Fireplaces. Scary statistic alert. That pretty gas fire place you have? It could cause second- to third-degree burns in a matter of seconds. The glass doors or barrier on a gas fireplace can heat up to a whopping 400 degrees in about six minutes. And the people most susceptible to these burns and subsequent emergency room visits? Yep, your kids. Children between the ages of 8 months and 2 1/2 years old are most at risk of fireplace burns, but no child is immune to this household danger.
The smartest thing you can do when you have a fireplace and young children is not use it. But if you do use your fireplace, it should be childproofed with a hearth gate, which is a U-shaped heat-treated gate that corners off the fireplace area completely. "If gates will not work on your fireplace, you should use specially designed fireplace locks on glass accordion doors and install hearth padding around edges of hearth to prevent child from falling onto it," says Kimberlee Mitchell, Child Safety Expert & Founder of Boo Boo Busters, Inc. "Parents should also remove gas keys from the fireplace gas gauge and store in high places." It's important that you never ever leave your child alone near a fireplace -- even if it's been turned off. Gas fireplaces take about 45 minutes to cool down to a safe temperature after being shut off.
Danger Zone 2: Televisions. All children are mesmerized by TVs -- so much so that they may try to climb on them. Television sets should be anchored securely to the wall, so they can't fall on top of small children, causing serious injuries. "All TVs should be mounted to the wall," notes Mitchell. "Not just ones that are in living rooms."
Danger Zone 3: Coffee Tables. "The blunt sharp edges of hearths and coffee tables are the guilty culprits of split chins and foreheads of many babies," says Mitchell. You should either ditch your square or rectangular table in favor of one with round edges, or place foam corners on edges to protect your kids. Also, glass tables -- particularly non-tempered glass tables, which shatter easily -- are not a good fit for homes with small children.
Danger Zone 4: Rugs. "Parents should put non-slip mats under all throw rugs to prevent a child from slipping," suggest Mitchell.
Danger Zone 5: Batteries. It's important to beware of all exposed batteries in your home (particularly small ones), but a common culprit is remote controls, which may have their battery covers missing (or may be easy to get to if you're a curious toddler). About 89.9 percent of the time, swallowed batteries won't cause a problem, but they can be extremely dangerous -- even fatal.
Danger Zone 6: Exposed Power Strips. Power strips should either be hidden behind furniture or covered with a power strip cover. Children can easily unplug cords and stick metal objects into sockets, electrocuting themselves. All outlets in your home should be covered with sliding outlet covers.
Danger Zone 7: Top-Heavy Items. Until children are older, it's best that you remove all items that can easily tip over, such as coat racks, heavy lamps, and statues.
Danger Zone 8: Choking Hazards. "It's important that parents store purses and bags up high on a peg rack out of the reach of children, as there often are lots of small items in there," says Mitchell. "And don't forget about guests' bags, as well! Kids bee line to grandma’s purse for treats, so be sure it’s not accessible." Mitchell also advises regularly checking under couch cushions and all furniture for small objects that could be choking hazards to kids.
Danger Zone 9: Picture Frames. Make sure picture frames are completely out of your child's reach, due to the fact that if they fall and shatter, there will be sharp shards of glass everywhere!
Danger Zone 10: Screen Doors. If your living room has a door to the outside, be sure to keep it closed at all times or gate it off. "Screens are not childproofing devices and should not be used as a barrier," states Mitchell. "They are held together by mere pressure. If a baby pushes hard enough, the screen will come out and baby can get through."
How else did you make your living room safe for your toddler?
Images via Brett Holt/Flickr/Corbis