Baby & child weekender: Tips for childproofing your garage

Consumer Reports News: August 14, 2009 01:08 PM

Here are some ways you can protect your children from harm in and around your garage.

Door to house. Install a lock on the door leading outside or to the garage. Consider a self-locking Dutch door that allows you to pass groceries into the house without letting your toddler out.

Driveway blind zones. Always make sure children are safely out of the way before backing your car out of the garage or driveway. Some vehicles are now available with an optional rear-view video camera that shows the driveway in an in-dash display.

Garage-door openers. Test an electric garage-door opener's sensitivity by placing a 2-inch-high block of wood on the floor in the door's path. If the door doesn't reverse direction and go up, don't use the garage door opener. Open and close the door manually, or replace the garage-door opener. In addition to reversing when they come in contact with something, openers may be equipped with optical sensors that prevent the garage door from closing if a child or anything else gets in the way.

Hazardous substances. Store matches, antifreeze, charcoal lighter fluid, windshield wiper fluid, gasoline, and oil as you would medicine--in their original containers, out of your child's sight and reach in a locked cabinet. Dilute any antifreeze spills by hosing them off. Antifreeze can contain ethylene glycol, a toxic chemical that smells and tastes sweet. It's particularly hazardous to children or pets that may lick it off driveways and garage floors (it happens).

Laundry supplies. Stash detergent, bleach, and other laundry essentials in a locked cupboard. Keep all chemicals in their original containers; never transfer them to soda bottles or other beverage containers.

Ride-on toys. Don't purchase a riding toy until you're certain your child is mature enough to use it safely. Attach a tall flag on the back of a tricycle so it's visible to motorists. The lower it is to the ground, the safer a wheeled toy is. Always supervise a child when riding. Be sure your child has a safe riding area, where she can navigate without the risk of going into traffic, down steep hills, on steps, or into driveways. If there's no safe place to ride, use a riding toy only for visits to the park. To keep children away from the garage, store tricycles and ride-on toys in the house.

Stairs. To prevent falls down basement stairs, install a lock as high as you can reach on both the front and back of the basement door. Make sure stairs are well lit and keep all clutter and toys off steps.

Water heater. Reduce the setting of your hot-water heater to 120° F. An infant's skin burns much more easily than an adult's.

Workbench. Make your workbench off-limits, whether you're working there or not. Lock up power tools and all small or sharp objects.

If you have more childproofing tips, send them to us in Comments!

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