Simple tips to keep kids safe at their grandparents’ house

Consumer Reports News: March 31, 2011 01:26 PM

Ahh, nothing like a visit to grandma and grandpa’s. It a treat for your little ones and grandparents alike, plus you get some much-needed down time to relax. To really enjoy this time you’ll need the peace of mind that comes from knowing your folks have made their home safe for your baby and/or kids to visit.

Even the most devoted and doting grandparents may not be as aware of all the potential hazards that parents guard against. So how to avoid hurt feelings—and even more importantly, hurt children?

It helps to start with a conversation explaining, tactfully and gently, that the ultimate goal is providing your child with as safe a place away from home as at her own home.

Here are some steps to take. There’s a bunch of them, but they’re all simple:

• cover electrical outlets
• keep electrical cords out of reach
• lock cabinets that contain household cleansers or products that would be dangerous (kitchen matches, any kind of plastic bags, tools)
• be sure that wherever the child sleeps, he can’t grab a blind or drapery cord
• lock any doors that go to the basement, backyard, front yard, or garage, so babies, toddlers and children can’t fall, get into places they shouldn’t or wander away from home
• have safety gates at staircases. It’s okay to bring your own pressure-mounted gates to use at the bottom of the stairs, but keep in mind, only hardware-mounted gates are safe to use at the top of stairs.
• move houseplants out of reach
• close bathroom doors to prevent accidental drowning in a toilet, bathtub, or even cleaning bucket
• keep hot foods and plates away from the edge of the table at meal preparation and meal times
• If there is a tablecloth or runner on a dining room or kitchen table, make sure there is nothing on the table that could injure a child if they pull down the cloth or runner.
• Use corner cushions on any coffee tables or end tables with sharp corners and make sure any glass tables are made of tempered glass.
• be sure that any plastic dry cleaning bags aren’t accessible
• lock entrances to the pool

It turns out that one of the biggest hazards children face in their grandparents’ home is medications, both prescription and over the counter. Many grandparents store medications in easy-to-open bottles or daily medical containers rather than child-proof bottles. Be especially vigilant about pill containers that may be on bedroom nightstands, or TV tables. While grandparents may be careful about what’s in the medicine chest, they may not think of what’s in easy reach around the house.

Don’t forget to remind the grandparents about any food allergies your child has—and check that dishes of candies or nuts aren’t at child-level (ideally, they shouldn’t be out while your child is visiting)

Grandparents have a tendency to believe that their grandchildren are precocious and amazing. That’s an ego boost for you and the kids, and okay, it may even be true! But grandparents need to resist the urge to give your kids toys that are potentially dangerous because they’re age inappropriate. Toys and games designed for older children often have small parts that curious toddlers can choke on, for example.

Without making yourself, and the grandparents, crazy, you can carry child-proofing practices with you to ensure a comfortable, and above all, safe visit for your children.

Merri Rosenberg

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