I’ve always been a somewhat anxious, paranoid person but having a child made that even worse. Even though we live in a generally safe area, and our home is pretty childproof, I can’t help but think of the worst case scenario all the time.
I know, I have issues. Ha!
Even though our home is pretty childproof, there really are so many “hidden” dangers. Some of these dangers are just dangerous for small children, who really don’t have a strong concept of knowing what’s bad…but there are some things that are dangerous to everyone.
Since it’s the New Year, and I’m assuming most people are looking to improve their lives, I thought I’d share a few “hidden” dangers in your home. Not all of these will apply to every household (or to people over the age of six or so), but I think they are important to be aware of. Even if you aren’t paranoid like me, it’s good to be aware.
Liquid Laundry and Dishwasher Packets
These are a popular way to get your dishes and clothes clean, but they can be extremely dangerous to children. I’ve seen so many articles about children who had eaten laundry pods and been severely injured (and in some cases, killed.) It’s really scary how everyday products can be toxic. If you have these, make sure they are in a high cabinet (preferably locked – these cabinet locks are great) where your child can’t get to them.
I know I keep referencing stories I’ve read, but there are a lot of sad stories out there about common items hurting children (and I read a lot of news.) A few months ago, I read about a child who was strangled by getting tangled up in the cords from the blinds on a window. Make sure these are out of reach of your kids!
I saw an ad recently from Select Blinds. 100% of their blinds are cordless. We are going to be getting blinds like this for our new home. Last I checked, they were having a buy three, get one free as well as a free shipping promotion. I think these are some of the best blinds you can get.
Salmonella and E. coli
Salmonella and E. coli can be found in any home. They can cause anything from a slight stomachache to hospitalization (and, worst case scenario, death.) There are over 40,000 reported cases of Salmonella every year. It can live on just about any surface and in many different foods (particularly meats), so it’s essential to make sure you thoroughly wash your hands when handling food, cook food properly, and wipe down surfaces regularly. When cooking with meat, it is wise to have a dedicated cutting board so it doesn’t cross-contaminate with other foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which may not be cooked at high temperatures like meats. When you have kiddos crawling around, they can really pick up a lot of germs.
Antibacterial cutting boards are awesome. It makes it a lot easier to clean and kill the germs that might be left behind!
There’s some debate on this one, but from the research I’ve read, it’s best to avoid air fresheners, hair spray, shampoos and deodorants that contain something called Phthalates. I heard about this, specifically referring to the wall air fresheners, when I was pregnant with Jack, and it was a little worrisome. Phthalates are linked to reproductive and developmental problems in animals. Several states have actually banned the use of them in toys for children, as they are particularly harmful to children. Here is some more information on the topic.
I’m sure most people have heard of the dangers of lead. While it’s not really an issue in homes that have been updated past about 1975, or toys and cribs that are new, lead poisoning still happens. Lead-based paint and dust contaminated with lead are the leading cause of
If you live in an older home (whether you are renting it or own it), it’s very important to make sure there isn’t high levels of lead in your home. It can hurt the people living in your home, especially children. Before about 1975, lead in homes – especially in paint – was very common. It was also very common in cribs. So if someone offers you an old crib or old, painted toys…think twice before accepting. I remember reading a story recently about a child who got very, very sick from lead paint that was in their home. The family didn’t realize there was any in the home, because it had been painted over several times with non-lead paint.
There are lead testing kits you can use if you want to check out the lead in your house (specifically in your drinking water.) Both of our boys have been checked for lead poisoning at doctor’s appointments as part of the office protocol.
In our technological world, there is much need for batteries! However, they can be very dangerous. I’ve seen so many sad stories about babies and toddlers who swallowed batteries – they can get them from remotes, toys, or from counters they’ve been left off on. I know that I’ve found batteries sitting out, and I always feel grateful that Jack didn’t get a hold of them.
Even beyond the danger of swallowing them, batteries have a host of other dangers associated with them. Our landlord recently forwarded this video about how 9 volt batteries can burn down your home if not stored properly. It’s important to make sure you store your batteries properly and to dispose of them after they’ve expired or started to corrode.
This is a pretty commonly known danger to children, but it’s worth mentioning. Jack never really went toward outlets when he was younger, so I thought we were out of the woods. Then he started showing interest in how we were always plugging things in, and he’s always wanting us to let him. I don’t feel like he’s old enough to be able to do that, so I’ve been a lot more vigilant about covering them up and keeping things picked up so he can’t put them into the outlets. Outlet covers are not very expensive, and they work pretty well.
Dressers & Televisions
Right before Jack was born, I read the saddest story about a little toddler who was killed by a dresser falling on them. This grief-stricken mother had devoted herself to educating other parents who didn’t realize the importance of having dressers properly restrained against the walls. It was something I had never even thought of, but after reading her story, I’ve always been really nervous about unrestrained dressers!
As children start to get more mobile,t hey climb on everything – and they don’t really know if it’s dangerous. Even toddlers who start to be more independent may just want to open the drawers and get themselves dressed. A dresser can easily be pulled over on top of them, and it’s a very scary thought about what might happen.
We have these furniture straps, which are worth the piece of mind. The same goes for televisions. These can be pulled down as well, and since they are rather heavy, they damage can be substantial. Anti-tip TV straps are great to have. If you can, mount your television on the wall.
Gas appliances are very popular right now. When they are properly maintained, they shouldn’t cause any harm to your family. However, carbon monoxide that can be emitted from gas appliances can be deadly. I see several stories a year about families killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s an odorless gas, so most people don’t even realize it’s being emitted. Always have your gas appliances and heater maintained regularly and invest in a carbon monoxide detector.
Pesticides – insect repellent, weed killer, etc.
These are common around homes, and they definitely have their purpose. However, they are very powerful and can harm not only people but pets as well. If you use these items, make sure to store them in the garage or a shed or shelf that children and pets cannot reach. It may be tempting to put them outside, especially if you use them outside a lot during the summer, but they can be very harmful.
I’m always seeing commercials and billboards about storing medications properly and disposing of them appropriately when you’re not done. Children can easily put pills into their mouth if there are any that are left sitting around, or in a place that they can reach them. I know a lot of people will put medications in pill boxes, which are a lot easier to get open than pill bottles. Just make sure to have medications – whether it’s ibuprofen or something a lot more heavy duty – away from children. When my little brother was a baby, he somehow got into a container of ibuprofen that was in my sister’s room. Poison control said he would be fine (and he was), but it could have been much worse.
It’s also important to get rid of medications when you are done with it. As sad as it is, there are teenagers (and adults even) who may try and take prescription medications from a medicine cabinet when they don’t need it. Even if you don’t think this would ever happen, make sure to count your pills and know how many you have left. I remember someone who realized their babysitter was stealing pain killers from them. You just never know! Taking medication that isn’t prescribed for you can be very harmful.
When I was looking for a new apartment a few years ago, I had my sister go look at an apartment. She mentioned how it was on a third floor, and there were windows that were close to the floor. Before then I hadn’t even thought that might be a danger, but after she mentioned it, I heard a couple different stories about children pushing out the screen in a window and falling out. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have multiple levels in your home, but if there are windows, make sure they are locked and the screens/glass won’t fall out by being pushed on. Having just a screen is not protection enough!
Mold can make you very sick! It can be in cellars, under floor boards, and in many other hidden places. If you feel like your family gets sick a lot, consider having your home checked for mold. When you are buying a home, this is something you definitely want to check, because people don’t always realize their home has mold!
We didn’t know much about radon until recently when we had a radon test done on the home we were buying. We’ve done some research on it, and it seems to have mixed opinions. Some people say that it’s a “silent killer” and might be the culprit to why so many people have lung disease. Other’s believe it’s a non-issue. I recommend you look into the issue, consider having a radon test done, and if it comes back with levels that are too high, install a radon mitigation system (which is about $800.) We had ours done for about $150, but there are home tests as well as radon monitors you can buy as well.