For generations, new parents have employed a variety of latches, gates, alarms and other technologies to prevent children from experiencing everything from minor “owies” to life-threatening emergencies.
For Phoenix mom Meggan Coughlin, a big concern when her daughter Rosalie became mobile was “making sure that cleaning supplies were out of reach.”
Many areas of the home need attention: pools, toilets, bathtubs, cabinets, drawers, doors, electrical outlets and sharp edges—not to mention stairs and fireplaces.
We talked with Todd Watkins, owner of Baby Safe Homes in Phoenix, to find out what’s new in home-safety products.
In the past, plastic latches were the only available solution to prevent children from opening drawers and cabinet doors. Watkins demonstrated a new product: the Safety First magnetic cabinet latch.
When a cabinet door is equipped with a Safety First latch, the only way to unlock it is to wave a magnetic key in front of a cabinet door. (Drawer molding determines whether or not the latches will work inside of drawers.)
While some parents may not like having to keep track of one more key, others may find the system much easier than manipulating those annoying old-school plastic latches. A package of four latches cost about $24.
Doors are another major concern for parents. Pinched fingers—and even amputations—can result when a child’s hand is caught in a closing door.
Traditional knob covers are still popular for keeping children from opening doors, but a new product, the Pinch-Not® Home Door Safety Shield, covers the hinge side of the door, preventing injuries to children’s fingers. This product allows the door to stay in any position —from fully open to fully closed—and still be safely opened and shut, unlike traditional shields that require keeping the door in a “preferred” position. Knob covers are still recommended for doors that must stay shut.
No tools or screws are required for installation; the shield is attached with a stretch adhesive that reduces the chance of doorframe damage if/when it is removed. The shields cost about $15 each.
Electrical plate covers
Watkins also stocks self-closing electrical plate covers as an alternative to bulky, plastic outlet-plug covers that can become choking hazards—and are effective only until children figure out how to remove them.
The high-end decorative plates, from Safety Innovations, have spring latches that automatically close outlet holes when plugs are pulled out, preventing a child from re-plugging in the cord. The Safety Innovation electrical plate covers cost about $4.75 each.
Child in car seat alert
Another concern parents have—especially in Arizona, where scorching temperatures can quickly pose a deadly danger—is absentmindedly leaving a child in a car seat while they’re out running errands.
A new product—the Gardien Alert—is aimed at preventing such a disaster. The product was created to notify caregivers when a child has been left in the car. Gardien Alert’s state-of-the-art technology uses the driver’s smart phone or a special key chain to send a warning signal. There’s also a device that sits on the hood of the car and sounds an alarm after four-and-a-half-minutes of no response, alerting passersby to a child left unattended in the car.
The Gardien Alert smartphone version costs $95 to $105 and will be available in June. The keychain version, available in August, costs $45 to $55. Buy both versions plus the hood device for about $215 in October.
DIY or call a pro?
Watkins, who started his Baby Safe Homes franchise seven years ago, says more parents are turning to professionals to take over the job of childproofing their homes. Experts know all the potential home dangers to children—and ensure correct installation in an aesthetically pleasing way. Prices for professional childproofing can range from $90 to $300, depending on the scope of the service provided.
Whether installation is done by a parent or an expert, Coughlin, whose daughter is now 2, says the effort to childproof your house is worth it: “It definitely gives peace of mind.”