Liberty Inspection Group owner, Chris Earley, was featured on the Home Improvement USA radio show. In the interview, Chris covers some of the most important aspects of keeping your home safe for children.
Listen to the interview and check out some of his tips below for keeping your home safe for your children.
Keeping your family safe may seem like a full time job, but the Philadelphia Home Inspection have a few tips to help you keep your house safe for kids of all ages. Above all safety tips, the most important point is that you should be sure your children are supervised. Here’s Chris Earley’s personal tips for child safety:
1) Check for buckets.Go around the house and check for buckets. Five-gallon buckets can hold a lot of water, and if you have toddlers, like I do, they can get curious. The could fall into the bucket head first, and they will not be able to get out. Even an empty bucket can be dangerous, so keep them out of reach of kids.
2) Beware of tubs. It’s important to remember that drowning is the number two cause of infant death behind motor vehicles accidents. There’s a story that we often hear–a family goes and stays overnight at somebody’s house. They don’t have a crib or a pack and play so they put the kid in the tub. In the middle of the night, the child wakes up, curious about the faucets and turns on the water. The child’s blanket then could potentially clog the drain, and within minutes the tub can fill. Overall, it’s best to keep small children away from tubs.
3) Put up barriers. If you have a pool, spa, pond, fountain or other body of water outside your back door, it’s important to install barriers to keep children out. One thing we often check for during home inspections is if people have pet doors. A pet door could lead to the deck, which leads to the pool. You want to make sure you have a lock on it. Something else we check is actually basically an alarm on the doors so when the door opens it sounds the alarm. So if your kid opens the door going out on the deck, you’re going to hear that alarm. Every pool should be fenced in with child safety locks.
4) Evaluate your garage. Garages may pose a crushing hazard. When we do home inspections we check for two safety provisions. One being the beam detectors, and most of the new garage door openers have these. If you’re at home now you can go, or when you get home, your homework is to go see if you have beam detectors. On either side of the rails for the garage door should be two little boxes, and basically when the garage door is coming down, I just stick my foot in front of it and the garage door should reverse. They should be in place. Some of the older garage door openers don’t have them but you can get a retrofit kit and you can add that onto them. The other one we check the garage door openers for is the resistance test. So if it’s coming down, I’ll put my arms in front of it or you can put a block of wood in front of it when it comes down and hits something, it should reverse. It’s based on a tension screw, so if it goes down and keeps on going down you can adjust that pretty easily with a little common screwdriver. But those are the two tests we check the garage door opener for. It’s just a crushing hazard for children.
5) Fix fall hazards. Guardrails and handrails, as far as child safety is concerned, can be a fall hazard. Up until somewhat recently, a lot of times there’s been gaps in the hand rails that are bigger than four-inches. Four inches is the current standard. You don’t want to have anything more than that, with something you can pass a 4-inch object through the opening, which is basically the size of a toddler’s head. They could fall through, so if you have something, like a piece of plexiglass, a piece of mesh, or a piece of netting of some sort, you might be able to use that to bring the guardrail up to current standards.
6) Install cabinet latches. One big thing you need to think about is poisoning. A lot of people end up getting the cabinet latches to keep kids from getting into poison. The easiest thing is to put them out of reach somehow, but there’s different things you put on the cabinet to help prevent this. You can put protective handles on the doorknobs where you’re gonna keep cleaning products, but keeping things out of reach one way or another is the best way to do that. It’s also good to have the Poison Control phone number handy.
7) Monitor Carbon Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide poisoning kills about 300 people each year in the US. Carbon Monoxide is a byproduct of any fuel that you’re burning. If your breath enough of it in, you faint, you get headaches, you could throw up, and eventually you could die. The way to prevent this is really buying a carbon monoxide detector. Current standards generally call for one per home, and you want to put it somewhere where you can hear it, but at the same time, it’s close to whatever in your home is is producing the Carbon Monoxide, which would be your furnace or heater. It could be just as easy as having a battery operated Carbon Monoxide detector, similar to a smoke detector. You want to test it, similar to a smoke detector, and change the batteries twice a year. And never grill in your garage!
8) Use smoke detectors. Generally we look for one per bedroom, as well as one per floor. Some municipalities will call for them to be hardwired. We look for at least the battery powered ones, and you should check those once a month. You should change out the batteries a couple of times a year. Every municipality is a little bit different as far as what they require, but generally the minimum is one per floor.
9) Have an exit emergency plan. Now when it comes to fire safety the family should have an exit emergency plan. At this point we pretty much review our plan here every time we hear a fire truck in the neighborhood. You want to talk with your family and want to tell him where to meet if something happens. You want to say we’ll meet out at the end of the driveway or we’ll meet over at the neighbor’s house. You have to reinforce this, so if something ever happens, you’re not going back in the house to look for your kid to find out where they are, and they’re not running around looking for you. Everybody should know to go down to wherever your meeting point is and that that plan should be set in stone.
10) Have a window exit. Most townships require that you put in another way of getting out of the basement besides stairs You want to have a window that is easy to open and big enough to have at least one person get out at a time. Once and a while we see windows with the burglar bars on them, while these may keep burglars out, they also may prevent you from properly exiting your home during an emergency. You should buy the ones where you can release them from the inside.
11) Check the closet, crawl spaces, and attics. The main thing we check for with these spaces is that every door has a knob on the inside and outside. Once and a while, especially in older homes that aren’t up to current standards, we find a closet door that has no knob on the inside, meaning you could end up stuck. Just be sure that if there’s a latch on the outside, that there is also one on the inside.
Bonus: I recommend visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. You can also sign up to receive email alerts, which will tell you about recent recalls.