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Home Safe Home

A pull-out guide to keeping your family healthy and happy

Parents worry a lot about the safety of their families, and with good reason: accidents in the home are the leading cause of death among children in the United States.

But with a little common sense and this handy, room-by-room checklist you can create a hazard-free environment for your family and avoid unwelcome surprises.

Feel free to pull this section out and carry it with you to each room in your house. Use it to identify and eliminate potential problems. Then post it as a reminder that prevention is your best defense against accidents.


  1. Position crib away from curtains and window blind cords
  2. Measure the space between the bars of the crib rail. They should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart
  3. Choose a firm mattress that fits the crib frame securely
  4. Keep crib rails in their highest position
  5. Remove bumper pads after your child is 6 months old
  6. Remove mobiles when your baby is old enough to grab them
  7. Position crib mattress at the lowest level to enhance sidebar protection
  8. Store loose clothing, pillows, extra blankets, decorative quilts and large plush toys outside the crib
  9. If your baby is able to climb out of the crib, move the mattress onto the floor or onto a small frame designed to hold a baby mattress
  10. Keep medications, vitamins, diaper pins, ointments and deodorizers out of baby's reach or behind securely latched doors
  11. Use a changing pad with a safety strap and never leave child unattended on the changing table
  12. Make sure your child's pajamas are flame-retardant

Living Room

  1. Replace frayed or worn-out electrical cords
  2. Tie drapery and mini-blind cords out of baby's reach
  3. Make sure all light sockets have light bulbs in them
  4. Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months
  5. Guard any heating device (fireplace, wood burning stove) with a protective shield or screen
  6. Remove rubber ends from doorstops
  7. Keep window latches firmly closed and locked
  8. Position furniture in front of electrical outlets
  9. Place protectors on all electrical outlets within baby's reach
  10. Be sure to place cords for lamps, radios and clocks where baby can't reach or pull on them
  11. Cover hard edges and corners of furniture with rubber protectors


  1. Be sure playground equipment is sturdy and free from sharp corners and splinters
  2. Set up swings and climbing equipment at least six feet from fences and walls, and anchor them securely in the ground
  3. Rid yard of poisonous plants
  4. Never leave child unattended near water (including wading pools and large buckets)
  5. Keep fence gates closed and check that all latches work properly


  1. Store cosmetics, perfumes and hair treatments in locked cabinets
  2. Keep medicines and vitamin supplements in childproof containers and in locked cabinets
  3. Secure every toilet lid with a safety latch
  4. Drain bathtub immediately after use
  5. Keep all electrical appliances away from water-filled bathtubs and sinks
  6. Install childproof knob covers, non-skid appliques and soft spout covers in


  1. Set hot water temperature at 120 degrees F
  2. Test water temperature with wrist or a bath thermometer before putting children in the tub
  3. Never leave children unattended in the bathtub
  4. Exchange glass cups and soap dishes for plastic


  1. Equip stairwells with secure handrails
  2. Make sure safety gate is correctly installed and in working order
  3. Tack all carpet securely


  1. Keep hot containers and drinks out of reach
  2. Unplug countertop appliances after use
  3. Install cabinet/drawer latches
  4. Install appliance latches on the refrigerator, dishwasher and trash compactor
  5. Keep dishwasher door closed
  6. Install stove guards and knob covers
  7. Always turn pot handles toward back of stove
  8. Boil/fry foods on back burners
  9. Keep knives and sharp utensils out of reach
  10. Keep toxic substances and all cleaning products out of reach
  11. Make sure highchair's safety belt and tray latch are in working order
  12. Keep charged, easily reached fire extinguishers in places where fires are most likely to occur (kitchen, car, barbecue grill), yet out of reach of children


  1. Store hazardous lawn equipment, barbecue utensils and lighter fluid in a safe place
  2. Shut off barbecue grill energy source when not in use
  3. Safely store garden hoses out of direct sunlight
  4. Store power tools and sharp objects out of reach
  5. Test automatic garage door to ensure the anti-entrapment device is in working order

Debra Evans is a writer and mother of four.

Information from Vicki Lansky and Consumer Guide editors, Complete Pregnancy & Baby Book (Publications International, Ltd., 1991); Robert H. Pantell, James F. Fries, and Donald M. Vickery, Taking Care of Your Child, (Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1993); William and Martha Sears, The Baby Book, (Little Brown and Company, 1993); U.S. Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. 20207

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