A haven for moms, maybe, but what about kids?
I’ve heard that moms sometimes lock themselves in the bathroom just so they can have a respite, brief though it may be, from their children. Is this still true today?
This might be good for adults to keep or regain their sanity, but it’s no place for little ones to hang out. There are far too many hazards in this room. OK, so there might be fewer dangers than in your kitchen, but it only takes one mishap. I remember when I was little I took a big whiff of a small container of some sort of powder – probably talcum powder – and I thought I was going to die. I could have. A four-year-old boy in Kentucky died of asphyxiation after choking on ground cinnamon. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a child because, thankfully, I’ve never experienced it.
The best thing you can do for your children is to teach them early on to stay out of the bathrooms. But children are curious (what else have they got to do, right?), and sometimes they disobey. Although as parents or grandparents we should never condone disobedience, we still love our little ones and must do everything we can to ensure their safety.
“Childproof”, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means:
- something “designed to prevent tampering or opening by children”, such as pill bottles with childproof caps
- something “made safe for children (as by safe storage of dangerous materials)”, such as “a childproof home”
When it comes to “child proofing”, we need to make sure we’re not lulled into a false sense of security. The safety latches I affixed to my cabinet doors were effective for a while, but our granddaughter is now five years old and she knows how to open them. Her little brother will probably learn more quickly. He’ll only need to see her open a door one time before being able to do it himself.
From time to time we all need coaching – reminders, if you will. I trust you will find these tips helpful as we make every effort to make our homes as safe as possible. This is the second of three of a series of three safety articles.
So as we go through this list of things in bathrooms that could be potentially injurious or even deadly to your children, please take each one seriously. If you’re already employing these, great! If not, start today. And please share this with your family and friends.
Electrical Receptacles – the shocking truth
As I noted in the article on kitchen safety, this topic deals with safety for everyone. Current standards require all bathroom receptacles to be ground fault protected. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. It is a safety device that can be a life saver. Failure to have ground fault protection can be deadly. Older homes lacking ground fault protection should be upgraded for reasons of safety.
The following is simply for your information: In most homes having GFCI receptacles in the bathrooms, the receptacle with the Test and Reset buttons is in the bathroom closest to the service panel (the panel with the circuit breakers in it, usually the garage). I personally think it should be in the master bathroom, but the master bathroom is not always closer to the service panel than the other bathrooms. And, of course, no one ever asked my opinion. Some homes require you to reset a breaker in the service panel, which is usually in the garage.
Electrical Cords – choke/drop/burn hazards
Hair styling tools should never be left plugged in or unattended, and no part of their cords should be near the edge of the counter top or hanging over it. A child can grab the cord and pull the tool off the counter and onto his head. He could also get the cord wrapped around his neck. Curling irons and other such tools remain hot for a while after being turned off or unplugged. This could result in serious burns. Never leave cords hanging over the counter top or near the edge of it.
Remember, it only takes a few seconds of inattention on your part for your child to “get into something”. Notice two hazards in the image below. I need to ask my wife to read this article. These are her hair styling tools. No doubt, she’ll put them up before our grandkids come over.
Cabinets, Drawers and Linen Closets
The image below is from a home I inspected. There were no cabinet locks installed. Notice the many bottles and cans with easy access. Notice, also, the curling iron on the left. It’s plugged in and the cord is hanging down onto the floor.
As with any cabinet, drawer, closet, etc., if it contains objects that could cause harm to little ones, it should be secured. And just a reminder here, “child proof” does not necessarily mean that a child will not be able to defeat locking device or that no one will ever be injured. As I noted in a separate article, my five-year-old granddaughter can open locked cabinet doors. If her younger brother sees her, I’m certain he will be determined to conquer them as well. That reminds me, I need to buy better locks, especially since we have a third grandchild due soon.
Closets – forgotten hazards
In many homes there is at least one closet connected to the master bathroom. Go now and look in your closet. Are there any belts, necklaces, or other items that could strangulate a crawler or toddler? Be sure to also look for items within reach of toddlers on shelves that could be a choking hazard – coins, batteries, loose bullets. If you’re in doubt about anything, move it out of the reach of little ones. Don’t forget older children who have disabilities. It is far better to be safe than to later say, “If only…”.
Step Stools – access to a whole new world
A stool of any kind left in a bathroom invites your child to a number of hazards. He can fall off the stool, drown in a sink or tub with standing water in it, drown in a toilet, or require medical attention if he gets a hold of things such as a razor, creams, powders, or medicines. Any of these could mean a trip to the emergency room, or worse.
There are step stools with guard rails designed specifically for children. They offer added safety as well as peace of mind for adults. One caution, though, regardless of what type of step stool you have, be sure that all unsafe items on the counter or in the sinks are out of your child’s reach. And don’t think for a minute that he won’t try to climb up onto the counter. Keep everything out of reach, and, again, never allow a small child to be alone in the bathroom.
Again, I noted the most common hazards based on my experience. I trust you found these tips to be helpful, if only to serve as a reminder. Please share these with your family and friends.
As always, I welcome questions and comments, and I will reply to yours promptly. If you have additional safety concerns, please share them with us.