Angie's List: Some tips on child proofing your home

It is never too soon to start child proofing your home if you are expecting a baby. The experts say you should be sure to do it before you bring your bundle of joy home from the hospital.

Experts say there are some 3 million accidental injuries in the home each year to small children, with falls leading the list of injuries.

Michelle Marietta has a 15 month old.

She said, "The safety concerns in my home mostly revolved around the staircases, we have some furniture that is a little rocky and we have some cabinets that have cleaning supplies that she was starting to get into. Those were my biggest concerns."

Michelle was so concerned she hired a company that actually specializes in child-proofing your home.

A childproofing company owner Kent McCool said, "Typically when we do an evaluation it's a room by room guideline. We recommend parents get down on their hands and knees just like their child and see what they see. It could be anything from cabinet locks, to safety outlet covers, to gates. We're looking for fall prevention, choking hazards, suffocation, window safety - those are some of the main key areas that we address."

Some childproofing steps are pretty simple and obvious, and you can do yourself.

Consumer expert Angie Hicks of Angie’s List said, "There are a lot of things a parent can do themselves. For example, putting the outlet covers on or moving things that could be potentially hazardous to the child. But when you're thinking about installing gates or even a pool fence or furniture anchors some of these bigger things might be left to a professional because they know how to install them and they can make sure they are installed correctly. A poorly installed safety measure could be more dangerous than not having one at all."

And if you own a firearm, be diligent to keep it locked away.

Half the accidental gun deaths in this country involve people under the age of 18.

The cost of hiring a professional is often determined by the amount of childproofing you want and the size of your home, so be sure you get an estimate in writing.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews , asked it's highly rated childproofing companies for advice on making your home safe.

Examples of childproofing products and measures:
• Outlet covers
• Safety gates
• Cabinet latches and locks
• Furniture straps/anchors
• Mesh pool fencing
• Door locks/door knob covers
• Toilet lid locks
• Table/window guards
• Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
• Fire escape ladders

How a professional childproofing company can help:

• The amount of safety information, products and options parents face in childproofing a home can seem overwhelming.
• A professional can help because they are trained to identify potential safety risks, offer solutions and research the best products.
• You may choose to implement some the solutions yourself, such as outlet covers - which are fairly easy to install and then hire the childproofing company to install products that are a bit more complicated such as safety gates, pool fencing, and furniture anchors.

Angie's List tips for hiring a professional childproofing company:

• Does the company specialize in child safety? Any contractor can say they can childproof your home. But if not installed properly, these items can actually pose an increased risk to your child.
• Ask about credentials: How many homes have they childproofed? Are they a member of The International Association for Child Safety? Do they use products that have received the stamp of approval from the Juvenile Product Manufacturer's Association? Don't forget to ask about insurance and licensing, if required.
• What about costs? The cost of hiring a professional is often determined by the amount of childproofing you want and the size of your home - so be sure you get an estimate in writing. First, they will come in and conduct a room-by-room walk through of the house. Many companies offer free in-home evaluations, others charge $50 or less. Then you will receive an itemized estimate detailing charges for materials and labor
• Is there a guarantee? Do they offer a warranty on their installations? What about a guarantee on the products?
• Don't feel pressured: Be cautious of any company that uses scare tactics to pressure you into buying unnecessary products.

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