One positive out of COVID is that many of us have stopped putting off those home improvements and we’re getting into the renovating swing of things.
But whenever you get around to renovating, improving your home is always a challenge especially if you have young children around.
We chatted to child safety expert Carolyn Ziegler, who is not only sought after for her expertise but is also co-founder of Dreambaby, the child safety brand.
Carolyn shares some great tips on how to renovate safely, whether you are renovating one room, the entire house or just landscaping the garden.
She also touches on design ideas you can incorporate into your renovation to make life safer for small children.
How to help keep your kids safe while Renovating a single room.
Carolyn advises the following:
- Stop all child access to the room you are renovating by installing a gate – not only at the entrance of the room but also at the entrance of the hallway leading to that room. Supplies are carried to the room via the hallway so it’s important to child proof that area too.
- Think about the design when you are renovating that room. Will it be child friendly?
- If it’s a kitchen don’t only be tempted by the latest design trends such as touch draw openings which can be somewhat more difficult to childproof and also hard to keep clean (messy little fingers). Use handles
- Avoid sharp corners on your islands and accessible cupboards.
- You can of course put corner cushions on any existing sharp corners no matter if you are renovating or not.
How to help keep your kids safe while Renovating a Child’s room or nursery
- Make sure when you design the room that your child’s bed or cot does not have to go against the window. You want to ensure no child can access the window and remember the possibility of cord strangulation from curtain and blind cords (any window furnishings) is sadly something that can occur.
- Make sure all windows are blocked with locks that prevent them being opened more than 10cm to ensure accidental falls are 100% out of the question.
How to help keep your kids safe while Renovating a Bathroom
- Think about how you are going to design your bathroom – ie are you going to install a bath?
- Block off the entrance with a gate both before during and after your renovation.
- If not because of space or preference make sure that your kitchen/laundry sink is large enough to bathe a small child.
- You can even use a bath seat in many sinks if it’s large enough.
How to help keep your kids safe while Renovating a whole house
If you’re not living on site:
- Always avoid bringing children to the house while building. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but remember the chance of dust, debris and other potential issues depending on the project. If you are forced to bring your child, obviously do not leave them in the car, instead keep them in a stroller completely harnessed in, or in a carrier.
If you’re living on site:
- Use a Play Pen to keep your child where you need him/her to be. Stating the obvious may seem silly, but a tired parent who is super exhausted with a reno does not always think like they usually do. This is not to imply they are negligent, it is just life being life.
- Unplug and lock up all power tools when not in use.
- Think about how you design stairs – don’t use glass if you are going to potentially require a gate or similar to block off that space. You can’t secure a gate to glass at the top and bottom of the stairs. Make sure you have something you can secure the gates to, like wood or masonry.
- Also make sure your balustrades and railings aren’t too low and keep all furniture away from them. You do not want a child using this furniture as a climbing tool and end up falling over the railing.
- Make sure your wiring is all up to date, with auto-cut offs for when an appliance could short.
- To help avoid screwing products in as much, there are numerous adhesive items to help and these can be easily removed when no longer needed. Also, the more permanent screw in style will have the classic models that are dateless and timeless. If you’ve used handles for the cabinets as mentioned before, there are items that simply fit through these and these are a great alternative too.
How to help keep your kids safe while engaged in a Landscaping project
- Keep children away from landscaping projects while in progress at all times.
- Fertiliser, potting mix and many plants can be poisonous. Avoid the plants altogether and keep the potting mix and fertiliser in areas that children cannot go.
- Decorative pebbles and acorns for instance are a choking risk so think about how you are designing your garden and also what trees and plants you plant.
- If you incorporate steps in your garden, make sure your children are at an age (and remember the older folk) where they can handle them. Obviously, you can’t always avoid installing stairs, but try to keep the steps not too high and if there are more than just a couple, consider a hand railing for young and old.
- In any case block off access to the landscaping (and garden once finished) with outdoor gates (usually made to measure). Consider sets of two down each access, in case one gate gets left open by anyone in the family. Great for pets also. You want to ensure kids do not accidentally get let out, but of course ensure children are supervised when outside at all times.
Swimming pools MUST be gated off with a secure magnetic self-locking gate. Furniture must be removed from the area in front of the fence and gate, so they can’t be pushed over where children can use it to climb up and gain access.
For more details about the Dreambaby products visit www.dreambaby.com.au.
Has COVID changed your plans when it comes to renovating? Tell us in the comments below.