Renown home safety expert and how-to guru, Alvin Ubell, Founder of Accurate Building Inspectors of Brooklyn (Accuratebuilding.com), has seen it all. Here, he shares the worst safety slips he's seen in homes where children live. The good news: they're all easy to fix.
1. The biggest one in the NY Metro area is railings on terraces and balconies with horizontal bars. "They attract kids, because kids love to climb. The railing itself may be sturdy and in perfect condition, but nothing will protect a kid once she’s scaled the railing and is teetering on the top of it," explains Ubell.
Solution: If you are already live in an apartment that has one, make sure the area is inaccessible to your child, secured with a childproof lock.
2. Chipping paint on walls, baseboards and radiators. Toddlers can be tempted to eat it.
Solution: Repaint every three to four years to keep those surfaces in good condition.
3. Signs of a carbon monoxide leak that go unnoticed. Moisture on windows, the smell of high humidity in the house (when it's not a sultry summer day) and black streaks on walls surrounding radiators, electrical outlets and switch covers are all big red flags.
Solution: A carbon monoxide detector is as important as a smoke dectector.
4. Light switches too close to water. Believe it or not, Ubell has seen shower stalls with light switches inside them for "convenience."
Solution: If a light switch is close enough that your child (or you, for that matter) can reach it from the tub or shower, immediately hire an electrician to relocate it.
5. Aluminum wiring. If your home was built between 1964 and 1973, its wiring may be aluminum, which is incompatible with other devices in switches and circuit protectors and so could be a fire hazard.
Solution: Have your wiring checked to make sure it isn’t aluminum if your home was constructed during those years.
6. Loose butcher knives. Children can easily grab the blades of knives that are stored loose in a drawer by mistake.
Solution: Store kitchen knives in a block far back on the counter.
7. Rickety swing sets. Ubell has observed kids happily playing on backyard swing sets and jungle gyms that, unbeknownst to their parents, are about to fall apart.
Solution: Make sure fastening devices (think nuts, bolts, screws) are flush on swing sets, sliding boards and other play equipment.