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Babyproof Your Home, Room by Room

Alexandra Grablewski

Living Areas

The hazards:
Whether your family gathers in a living room, family room, rec room, den or sun room, give yourself a baby's-eye view of hidden dangers by crawling around on all fours. Look closely at your furnishings: Hard corners or edges on coffee and end tables can cause cuts and bruises, while heavy furniture can topple on curious climbers. The fireplace and candles are fire and burn risks, as are electrical cords and outlets. Staircases may trip up crawlers and new or unsteady walkers, and railings with widely spaced slats can lead to falls or entrapment. Check your d├ęcor too, as vases and other ornaments are often breakable, and some plants are poisonous.

Make it safer:
Keep furniture upright by fastening it to the wall with brackets or straps, and place soft bumper pads around the edges of tabletops and the hearth. Use a screen on the fireplace (even when no fire is lit), and avoid lighting candles, which are easy to knock over. To prevent shocks and burns, tape down electrical cords and cover outlets with safety plates -- not plastic plugs, which can be a choking hazard. (Heed this advice throughout the house.) Avert tumbles with hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases, and mesh fabric netting on all railing or banister openings wider than 4 inches. Keep floors and surfaces within baby's reach clear of plants and fragile items, as well as small objects such as loose change and toy parts that can cause choking.