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Make Your Next Visit with Grandparents a Safe One

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Grandparents know more than we give them credit for. For example, my mom swears that burping babies over the knee, rather than on the shoulder, produces bigger, better belches, and she's right. But when it comes to safeguarding the house, she and my dad fall a little short. It's not that my parents are careless; it's just been years since they watched kids full time. So, I've had to establish a few do's and don'ts every time we roll in for a visit.

To make it easier, I've identified the safety concerns by room, and I go through the house when I arrive and make the necessary changes. Check out my master list—it just might come in handy on your next visit to the grandparents:

Kitchen

Toddlers wander in and out of this room like any other, so be on the lookout for things that are hot, sharp, or poisonous. Pack a few safety latches to install on doors of cabinets that contain cleaning fluids, knives, and other dangerous items. Remind Nana and Papa to turn pot handles toward the back of the stove, so a child won't be able to reach up and pull down a pan.

Bathroom

Grandparents may leave medication on the counter as a reminder to take it daily, but this is a disaster waiting to happen. All pills should be stored in a locked spot, out of reach, so little kids don't think it's candy worth tasting. Ditto for blow-dryers and hair curlers that are plugged in near the sink or tub—they could topple from the counter into water, which is an electrocution risk.

Hallways

Kids race down these at warp speed, so removing throw rugs may reduce the risk of slips and tumbles. This is also a good spot to install outlet covers—as well as the rest of the house—to keep curious fingers from probing where they shouldn't. You might also consider bringing an extra set of safety gates to set up in a hallway or at the bottom of the stairs to block access to certain rooms.

Living Room

Cords that stretch across the room can cause tripping and drinks left on side or coffee tables can be a danger. Talk with your parents about moving or bundling lamp cords and ask them to keep hot coffee cups or alcoholic beverages out of reach. Be on the lookout for bowls of hard candies, too, because they're a choke hazard for children younger than 4.

Den/Family Room

Threats in other areas are also possible in this room, but the bigger concern here may be bookcases and the TV cabinet. Toddlers and preschoolers aren't beyond scaling them, which can cause them to fall over and result in serious injury. If putting in a brace or bracket to secure items to the wall isn't possible (it's not exactly practical for a short visit on the weekend), then at least monitor kids closely in this room.

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