Safety Tips for Multiples
Babyproofing homes is a challenge for all parents, but with more than one infant, the job is, well, multiplied. Here are some important babyproofing and safety tips. Any other tips, resources, or suggestions can be sent to Helen.
- General babyproofing tips Get down on your hands and knees and view the world in a new light.
- Tripletproofing Two (or three!) heads really are better than one....
- Fire Safety Do you know how you'll get all your kids out safely?
- Resources-- a new (and growing) collection of safety-related web sites, on topics from basic baby-proofing to traffic safety for older kids, to personal safety.
General Childproofing TipsWith a single born child, babyproofing is fairly simple. The basic rule of thumb for beginners is to have Mom or Dad or other grown-up get down on the floor and start looking at things from baby's perspective.
- Cap or cover all outlets with something that can't be pulled off or opened by a child under five years old. Please Note:The January 1997 issue of Consumers Report Magazine published test results on many common childproofing items. The plugs used to cover electric sockets are a major choking hazzard! Most of the plugs sold on the market today failed the choke tube test (e.g., these plugs can pass through a tube which is the same width as a toddler's esophagus). The only ones that passed CU's tests are Gerber 76184, and Safety 1st 1711.
The safest option is the plate covers with the holes that turn at an angle when something's not plugged in.
- Look for any dangling electric cords. Remove or restrain cords (ie: tape cord to furniture, wall or floor so child can't pull on it and thus pull lamp or TV or other item on top of them).
- Protect baby/child from sharp edges of furniture, hearths and other corners that may cause bruising or other minor injury when fallen against.
- Take up any loose rugs or tape them firmly to the floor/carpet to avoid slips and slides of the running toddler.
- In the kitchen and bathrooms, make all cupboards, cabinets and drawers inaccessible to young ones. Latches, special hinges and locks are commonly used and easily available in most areas.
- Safeguard stove and oven controls so only adults can operate. Keep handles facing away from front of stove (so a curious child won't pull hot contents down on themselves).
- Tablecloths and other coverings are easily pulled upon by little ones thinking they are firm enough support to pull up on. Remove these for awhile.
- Be aware of unusual choking hazards. One list member recently found her baby choking on a bandaid from a vaccine earlier that day. If a baby needs a bandage, be sure to cover it with long clothing.
- Have a fire safety plan in place.The first day our home health nurse came out, she went over fire safety and having been in scouts for years we had a plan, just not one with a new baby in mind.... Her suggestion was to put the infant in a pillow case to make it easier to climb out the window of our top story. This is similar to the quilt, but more readily available and easier with one child. Also, you could tie the pillow case and lower it to the ground first if you had to jump or carry other small children.
This is what most people will do for ONE baby/child, and all the above is well advised for any number of babies/children. However, more than one requires extra thought and caution.. The more children, the more caution and preparedness needed.
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TRIPLETPROOFING: Childproofing with MULTIPLES
When tripletproofing, you need to look for more than the usual concerns as two or three the same age will get into more by helping one another. All areas they have access to should be examined carefully, not just the rooms they are in most-- the whole house, the garage, the patio, the porch, the yard, and so on. Anyplace you go with your toddling trio should be quickly evaluated, and if not safe, limit time there as well as you can. Once they get to about five years, most of the need for this is past. Still, even older children can get into some surprising not so safe situations. So always try to be alert to what they are up to.
- Outlets that aren't needed at all should be securely covered over, even replacing the outlet cover with a solid one for a few years. Or you can remove all the cover plates on the outlets not currently in use and cover the outlets with duct tape then replace the plate and trim the tape. Outlets used often are best protected from the antics of more than one child trying to remove the plugs by changing the outlets to ones that require sliding open by an adult at the time of use. Outlets that will be in use all the time can still be protected by purchasing a special cover that will cover over the plugged in cord completely with a small hole for the cord to run out of. Then that cord should be secured with tape or U-nails (like what the phone lines are held to the wall with) to floor, wall or furniture holding electric item.
- Sharp Corners/Edges
- ... can be inexpensively covered to protect young ones by using rolled cotton and duct tape around all edges and corners.
- Cupboards and cabinets
- The typical safety latches are not much deterant to two or three kids tugging on the door. The best alternative (isn't to much to look at) is to purchase small hinged clasps and small padlocks. Yes, I'm serious! And these types of hinges can also work for drawers (especially those without handles). The goal is to make the contents inaccessible. The appearance may be not what most of us had in mind for decor, but it's temporary! :)
For doors and drawers with handles that can have something pulled through them, you may wish to consider running pvc pipes through to keep kids from using each drawer as a step to higher wonders! It may even be warranted to use metal pipe (check with your hardware store about price, size, & color availability). Wooden dowels will work if they are at least one inch thick (smaller ones break). Some are content to lock the top drawer and then run the pipe through the rest. Others have found it advantageous to have holes at both pipe ends and using slightly large clasp hinges padlocking the pipe to the hinge to keep it safe from the kids.
A fast, cheap alternative is liberal use of duct tape, as long as you don't mind any damage to cabinet finishes or removing the sticky residue later. It takes so long to pull the tape off (especially if you've used it in more than one location on a door or drawer) that little hands can't get it open before you find them (they'll be unusually quiet, no doubt) :)
- Dressers, shelves, and other tall furnishings
- Bolt tall furnishings (wall units, bookshelves) to the wall. Use toggle bolts that will wing open inside the wall. If you're not sure about what to use, check with a professional.
Dressers may need extra consideration, as small children can use the drawers as steps:We have had the wall straps on the girls' dresser and bookcase since last fall when I heard about a death of a twin in our MOTC [Mothers of Twins Club]. She was climbing on a dresser and was crushed to death by it. I don't think she was even 2 yet when it happened.
Even the oven should be secured to the wall. A similar death, and many injuries, have occured when a toddler managed to open the oven door and stand on it. You may think it's too heavy to tip, but remember you'll have (at least) two toddlers to add their weight.
- If the window is in a position where it may be fallen against by accident, please have it replaced with plexiglas for the early years (maybe longer). This will save all from countless worries about falling into broken glass and the resultant injuries. If that can't be done, consider placing baby gates across the window frame or look into other inside gating alternatives. Keeping low windows or accessible (by chair or some improvised steps) windows locked can help to prevent children from opening them; but use the rule of one lock per child at each window for best results. Use different ways to keep the window closed: a dowel, rod or stick placed against the direction of opening; pins placed thru both sashes or frames to prevent opening or moving; the usual lock that comes with most windows. All these are ways to keep the window from being opened. The reason to use all is so it takes each child a longer time to get it open or it takes all of them to work together (that way you will discover their attempt before they make their escape)!
Also, please remember that you cannot count on window screens holding in a child. If a window which you often open is accessible, you'll need to take some steps to ensure that the kids can't get out. One option, if you have windows which will open from the top, is to leave the lower window closed and only open the top one. If you can't do that, try putting screws in the window frame, so that the windows only open a small amount-- far enough to let air in but not to let kids out.
- Baby Gates
- ...are very useful to bar a single babe from a specific area, but most are easily knocked down or climbed over by multiples. here are some possible sollutions:
- Double Gate, either with two at the same level or two and maybe even three at different levels in the same doorway.
- Put an inexpensive wooden screen across the doorway.
- Dutch doors (double doors which can be closed on the bottom while the top is open) to replace the regular door.
- Use gates that must be installed into the walls. This is still not completely tripletproofed; some older, heavier kids may still work together to end up pulling it out of the walls.
- Idea for areas where none of this works: look into pet restraining ideas for pets over 100 pounds. Many of these products will be much sturdier than baby products and often cost less, too.
- Bi-fold doors, like you find in many closets, are a danger to little fingers. There are safety devices which fit on the top, preventing the panels from folding together unless you slide it over. However, they may not fit on every door. Another option for dealing with these doors is to place a nail in the top rails, fixing them in the open position. It may not look great, but it's better than dealing with pinched fingers!
To prevent pinched fingers in regular doors, some parents of multiples simply drape a towel over the top. This prevents the door from slamming shut.
Real Tripletproofing requires creativity from parents and caregivers that know a particular set of multiples VERY WELL. You need to evaluate their individual and combined talents and interests to provide enough exploration to grow yet still be relatively safe from accidents.
- If you have curious kids that pull from below
- ...take away all the tablecloths and similar items. Remove items af any value to you. Try sticky velcro attachments for items you wish to keep displayed. Also, for these type of kids, it helps to have a container with interesting items (that you change periodically) in each room to entice them away from things you don't want them playing with.
- If you have extra-active children
- If your multiples are the sort that get into roughhousing and rambunctious play, your best bet is to re-do the areas they will be in. Not total remodeling. :) But streamline the whole room(s). Get everything out that you would mind having broken. Not to encourage them to break anything, but to allow them the freedom they need without always needing to "watch out" or "be careful" about what they are doing. It's just temporary...try to remember that.
- If you have climbers
- Be sure tall furniture is bolted to the walls (see above). If it's at all possible, arrange an area indoors where they can climb in relative safety, without damaging the furniture or themselves. This will be a relief for all of you: you'll be able to give them an alternative when they start climbing on the best couch, and they'll be able to develop their climbing skills.
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Fire Safety with Multiples
Prepare for emergency exit of infants and toddlers by having an EMERGENCY QUILT always accessible in areas where the children will most often be.
The quilt helps to cushion the inevitable bumps. Even if they are (combined) too heavy to carry, you can pull the whole quilt and get all little ones out at the same time. Minor problems from shoes and crowding is preferable to deciding who to take first and then returning (how many times?) to get the others. Depending on size of kids, it may be necessary to have two large quilts ready at all times. You can still pull all corners together and carry/pull as one.
- An "emergency quilt" is a quilt, blanket, sheet, etc. that's large enough to hold all (2-6) kids.
- In an emergency, place quilt on floor, put babies into center, and pull up corners to carry out. Simple.
Contact the fire station that serves your home (or the central fire station of your community; city hall will have the non-emergency number if you can't find it) to let them know about any special circumstances in your home in case of emergency. They will usually give this info to other emergency agencies in that area. It is a good idea to let your local 911 people know that you have 2 or more babies in one room. When the police/firemen are on the way to your home, the 911 people get a description of your home on their computer with any special notes you have added.
Some FDs will have decals to put into the windows (some are against this due to possible kidnapping risks) of the children's/babies' room. Others will provide decals for the front entrance (these will identify the needs, but not the location - ie - bedroom the babies' sleep in). It's important for FDs to know that there are a specific number of people not able to get themselves out of the home in an emergency!
Please, everyone, take a few moments TODAY to contact your local FD and make them aware of any needs (#of babies/toddlers or special needs children/adults) in your home so they are ready to help *everyone* out to safety if it's ever needed!
Additional safety precautions:
- Every home should have a smoke detector in every bedroom, hallway, stairway, and every level besides. (cost:$5.00 each)
- Check the batteries in the smoke detector monthly. Replace the batteries at least once a year. To aid in remembering when to change the batteries, get in the habit of replacing them every fall when you change the clocks back. If you live in an area which does not go on daylight savings time, choose a specific holiday or anniversary.
- If you possibly can, have fire extingushers located in the kitchen, outside the furnace room, and at the entry. (cost $20 to $30.00 each)
- Have your childeren taught fire safety by the local fire department. Most departments are proactive, and teach at schools, but having kids taught younger always improves the odds. (cost: $0)
- Escape plans (cost $0), window ladders (cost $20.00), sprinkler systems (cost: $2000 to $3000, but when ordered in a new home the monthly cost increase is negligible and also improves the resale value), etc...
- These things can all make the difference between life and a horrible tragedy. But, the most important thing that anyone can do is remove fire hazards from the home. Stop smoking, destroy all lighters, put all matches high up, in a locked box, and use common sense. (Cost :$0)
Please pass this on to everyone you know. Everyone knows a family with a baby or more or with a member having special needs. :)
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ResourcesThe internet has a vast array of sites dealing with child safety. But you may find it very difficult to sort through everything and find exactly what you're looking for. While researching sites for this FAQ, I found yahoo.com to be the most organized. If you do a search for "child safety", you'll be presented with several subtopics (eg. safe web surfing for kids), as well as a selection of sites. If you come across a site which you feel should be included here, please let me know. --Helen
Childproofing and General Safety Issues
Baby Proofing Your Home
Safety tips covering both indoor and outdoor home safety. http://www.parentzone.com/parents/homesafty/index.htm
The Paranoid Sisters
"Greetings from the Paranoid Sisters. While raising our 6 children ages 2 1/2 to 6 (including fraternal twin boys), running a multi-million dollar diesel engine repair shop and magazine publishing company, we decided to partner to try to stop the senseless deaths of children."
Children's Safety Network
A national injury and violence prevention resource center, with many useful links.
Children's Safety Zone
Stories and statistics regarding pool, fire, Christmas, and Halloween safety. You'll also find a section with a guide for young babysitters, including questions they should ask you, what to do in a given situation, etc.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides this web site with great information on staying safe. you'll also find information on first aid. But be sure to read it before you need it!
National Safe Kids Campaign
You'll find many good FAQs at this site.
An Australian site dedicated to the prevention of accidental death and injury in children. http://www.ozemail.com.au/~kidsafen/
Product SafetyConsumer Products Safety Commission
Looking for recall information? See the Consumer Products Safety Commission site You can search for information on past recalls, register for email updates, and more.
The Danny Foundation
Founded to prevent injuries, conduct research, and provide leadership to set standards for safe nursery products.
StayPut: Crib Sheet Safety
Ever notice that you can't find flat sheets for cribs? That's because of the danger of choking, should the child become entangled in the sheet. Unfortunately, the same thing can happen (and has) when the baby pulls off the fitted sheet. This site offers a product which covers the whole matress (like a pillowcase).
Child Passenger Safety
Information about air bags and car seats as they relate to kids; provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Home Page: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/
Vince & Larry's Safety City
Yes, the NHTSA crash test dummies get their own site! This is a fun place for kids to learn more about traffic safety.
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Looking for ways to keep your kids safe when they get their first set of wheels? Start here. You'll also find information on why it's not safe to keep the helmet on at the playground.
Fire SafetyFire Safety Tips for Kids
Ready to teach your pre-schoolers what to do in the event of a fire? Start here, and let Buzzy the Smoke Detector and Reddy the Fire Extinguisher teach kids to be fire safe with easy to do tips.
Personal SafetyStay Alert Stay Safe (SASS)
As your twins grow, you'll need to find ways to keep them safe from dangers outside the home. This site offers web resources for parents, teachers, police and anyone interested in keeping our children safe on and off the net. The children's section offers many games and quizes. In English and French.
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