Childproofing (also called Baby Proofing) is the act of making an environment or object safer for children. The act of childproofing reduces risks to a level considered acceptable by a society, an institution, or, for example, to specific parents. Childproofing may include restriction of children to safe areas or preventing children from reaching unsafe areas. This can be accomplished by the parent, or by hiring a professional for assistance. Additionally, some hotels offer "child proof" hotel rooms.
One of the more common concerns of child safety is the potential for electrocution or serious injury when an object, such as a key or metal paper clip, is inserted into an electrical outlet. Many childproofing devices exist that block access to the electrical outlets. These devices may as simple as plastic units that plug into each individual socket but this type could be removed by a toddler or parents might forget to re-insert them after using the outlet. Other devices such as sliding outlet covers replace the current outlet plate but still allow parents access to use the outlet.
The United States government publishes at least one free brochure for children that discusses electrical safety.
One of the more common methods of childproofing is to move potentially dangerous items to higher levels, beyond the reach of young children. This may include small items that pose a choking hazard, sharp items that might poke or cut a child, as well as breakable items such as glass vases or similar items.
A playpen is another device that is commonly used as a form of childproofing, by restricting the movement of a child while resting, playing or bottle feeding, requiring a somewhat lower level of supervision while in use. Many playpens are portable, making them an alternative when the parent and child are visiting a home that has not been "childproofed".
Safety gates are used to help prevent a child from accessing an area of a house, especially the stairway, or to allow an exterior door to be open for ventilation while restricting movement of a child. Pressure gates and hardware mounted gates are available. Pressure gates can be dislodged by children and should not be used at the top of stairs.in some situations have caused serious neck trauma when trying to gallop over the gates at breaking neck pace.
It is common to store a number of potentially dangerous chemicals under the kitchen sink, such as drain cleaners, ammonia, products containing chlorine and various chemical polishes, which are one of the most common causes of accidental child poisoning. There are a number of special latches that lock lower cabinets and require two actions to open, reducing the chance that a small child may gain access.
Child-resistant packaging is now common for medications. There are a variety of methods to secure medications, including caps that must be pinched or pushed down while turning. It may be required by regulation for prescription drugs, for over the counter medications, for pesticides, or for household chemicals where there is a significant risk of death from ingestion. Patients can request medications come in non-protected bottles at their pharmacy (such as older patients with arthritis).
Disposable lighters sold in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States (since 1994) must incorporate child-resistant features. The European Union added the same standard in 2010. The cheap alterations have resulted in fewer juvenile-set fires and deaths. One firefighter was quoted as saying "Children love to play with lighters. They figure it out", while another fire fighting official said "kids' brains do not have the ability to understand how dangerous fire is, and how quickly it can spread".
Due to a number of high profile legal cases, many manufacturers now produce goods with built-in safety measures, such as child resistant locks. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has attempted to increase awareness of potential hazards and has made it easier for consumers to report potentially dangerous products.
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