Text by Pat Gerbrandt

The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home, so make sure there is nothing hurtful in it. Allow yourself to look around this room with a child’s eyes to see if you can spot things that would entice – and with your adult’s understanding, take action to eliminate hazards.

-Ensure that there are no toys to trip over when you begin cooking. If possible, relegate toddler’s toys to one section, possibly even under the table, to ensure no one trips while carrying something hot or a sharp or heavy gadget.

-Ban toys like “Lego”, wheeled toys or marbles from the kitchen. One lower cabinet section, as far as possible from your stove, as child-friendly can hold plastic containers, wooden spoons and other similar classic favourites. It could be helpful to have some ‘kitchen only’ toys that don’t pose a hazard, to be enjoyed only while you are busy with meal preparation.

-A variety of exercise devices and ‘containment’ products are available for infants.

-Keep pot handles turned toward the back of the stove.

-A stove guard can offer additional protection, and is particularly important for gas stoves, because the flames can attract innocent tots.

-Knob guards are also available for stoves.

-Take time to teach your child the importance of obeying “Hot. Don’t touch!” Just imagine hearing a burned child’s screams – you’ll gladly persist in training.

-Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

-Make sure that nuts, and other foods that could cause choking, are not kept with snack foods if children are allowed to help themselves.

-Electrical cords need to be neatly secured (Velcro-wrap straps are a boon) so appliances can’t be pulled off counters.

-Dishwasher doors should never be left open.

-Add cleanser only when ready to turn on dishwasher.

-A garbage disposal switch needs a switch cover.

-Childproof latches offer inexpensive aid to security.

-Keep alcohol locked away. It can be lethal to your little ones.

-A bank of drawers invites a climbing explorer. If drawer pulls don’t allow you to slide a heavy dowel or a meter stick through them, find some other means of keeping these sliding stairs inaccessible.

-Recyclables and other trash should be kept in tightly closed and hidden containers. Empty plastic bags, spoiled foodstuffs, broken glass and other hazards are only garbage to you; to a youngster; they are just another bit of world to explore.

-Empty your floor wash bucket immediately after use. A child can drown in a small amount of water.

-Plastic bags need to be kept from young children.

-Don’t leave a tablecloth on the table. Pulling on its edges can bring hot food and heavy or sharp objects down on a vulnerable child.

-Store all cleansers, including dishwasher liquid, in a locked cabinet.

-Electrical outlets need ground fault circuit interrupters.

-Consider a childproof latch for the microwave. Toys hidden inside can start fires.

-A childproof refrigerator latch can prevent a mess and keep a hungry child from tasting medicines or uncooked meat.

-Use vinegar instead of bleach for sanitizing.

-Post poison control centre phone and emergency numbers on fridge.

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