I heard a child safety expert recommending that you regularly "take a trip around your home on your hands and knees," so you can "see it like a child." She very rightly says that you must check for;
- concealed paper clips (they hide in all sorts of places),
- strings, ties, and blind cords hanging at neck level,
- wood splinters in the hardwood,
- exposed or unprotected electrical outlets,
- power cords that can be pulled to bring a lamp down,
- tablecloths, napkins and stray hanging drapery that can be pulled down,
- nails, tacks and jagged things in carpet seams,
- seasonal hazards (pumpkin laanterns, easter eggs, Xmas tree decorations etc.)
- other (because the list of potential hazards is endless)
Also, best not to let your neighbours catch you doing this too often, they might get the wrong idea about how you spend your days and dressing up in a furry animal costume to do this doesn't help either, believe me.
2. The baby gate.
Never use spring-loaded baby gates at the top of stairs. You know those ones that are simply jammed between the wall and the stair post by a couple of springs and blind faith. They might hold back a crawling baby at ground level, but a determined toddler on his feet will soon push it over and down will come baby, baby gate and all. Wall-mounted gates are essential.
3. The fireplace.
Don't just block access to the fireplace to prevent serious burns and to foil attempts to escape by climbing up the chimney; the next most likely hazard is to the head via the hard, sharp hearthstone in front of the fireplace.
As children transition from crawling to walking to running, they fall a lot and it is essential that there are only soft things to bang their heads on. Fence off any hazards that will damage soft bones. A hearth gate can keep children away from the entire hazardous fireplace area and give you some peace of mind.
4. The television.
More than 15,000 kids are injured or crushed each year by falling furniture and most of those are caused by falling television sets. Children are naturally drawn to the bright lights of a TV. So, secure yours to the wall or the back of your entertainment center, especially those new smart flat-panel TVs, which tip very easily.
At this time of year you may also consider the Xmas tree as a hazard for small children. It is equally attractive to them as the TV and has so many things on it that they can grasp, prior to bringing it down on themselves.
5. The cat.
Cats and children are a constant source of amusement and disasters, sometimes one following on quickly from the other. Scampering and exploring felines can and do, step on toddlers while they are trying to sleep. So, if you own a cat, keep it out of the bedroom, away from the child and invest in a crib tent.
Toddlers are programmed to watch, learn and imitate what you do. So, don't let your child see you operate the baby gate, or because they will copy you. Likewise, if they see you step over the gate, they'll try to climb it, too.
Remember: A well-childproofed house is not a good baby-sitter. Constant adult supervision is the only way to prevent injury or at least greatly reduce the likelihood of injury.