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Baby-proofing a rental property

By Larissa Gardner
18 May 2016 | 1 minute read

Raisingchildren.net.au reports that “accidental injuries, not diseases, are the biggest cause of death and disability in children under 15 years in Australia”.

Around 280 Australian children die each year due to accidental injuries and thousands more require hospitalisation. More than half (67 per cent) of these injuries happen at the child’s home (kidsafensw.org).

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that the most common causes of childhood injuries are:

  • Falls
  • Road accidents
  • Poisoning
  • Burns and scalds
  • Assault

The good news is that a majority of these injuries can be prevented by taking simple baby-proofing measures to protect the most vulnerable members of a household.

Those renting when their little bundle of joy comes along are faced with a unique set of challenges when it comes to baby-proofing (as most landlords aren’t particularly keen on tenants drilling new holes into their walls).

Here are some tips for your tenants to keep a bub safe at home (that won’t upset the landlord):

Install safety gates

In a rental property, the odds are that tenants won’t be able to add permanent baby gates to doorways and stairs without making holes in the wall. Gates with pressurised mounting systems can do the job, with no drilling required.

If a property has stairs, most importantly tenants need to add baby gates to the top and bottom of the staircase to prevent falls. It can also be a good idea to add gates to access points to rooms and areas that could be potentially dangerous for a baby (such as the kitchen, balcony, study, laundry, bathroom and walk-in storage areas).

Secure heavy furniture and appliances

When babies are first learning to stand up and walk, they tend to use anything within reach as leverage and for balance. Tenants have to ensure all heavy furniture and appliances are stabilised (bookshelves, tallboys, TV units, portable heaters, cabinets, desks, fridges, etc.) to prevent them from toppling over. This is also very important for when toddlers are at that curious stage when they start climbing on and exploring the environment around them.

If a landlord allows it, tenants can secure large pieces with a furniture safety strap or an L-shaped bracket screwed to the wall. If not, there are a few precautionary measures they can take to anchor furniture and appliances. Check that all furniture is sturdy and stable. Does any of it rock or sway easily? If so, remove heavy items from upper shelves to make sure it isn’t top-heavy.

Tame cords and cover power outlets

Protect children from electrical, trip and tangle hazards by installing plastic outlet plug covers (don’t forget to do the power boards as well), use cord bundlers to keep cords tidy and tie up curtain and blind cords to keep them out of easy reach. In case a trip does occur, use corner protectors on coffee tables and other furniture items with sharp edges.

Install child-proof locks

Thankfully, there’s a huge variety of child-proof locks, clips, sliders and latches available that won’t damage a rental property. Add locks to windows and all doors that lead outside, to the bathroom, the toilet and, if possible, to the kitchen. Ensure any kitchen, bathroom and laundry cupboards with dangerous chemicals, medications or cleaning products are locked as well. Better yet, store these items up high in cupboards that are at least 1.5 metres from the ground.

For a final safety check, Kidsafe recommends getting down on your hands and knees and experiencing the home through a baby’s eyes. Look out for anything that has the potential to be dangerous. Are there any loose doorstops that could be choking hazards? Are any cords hanging down within easy reach? Are there any baits or poisons under the fridge left behind by previous tenants?

You can never be too careful when it comes to home safety for little ones. So if it feels as if something could potentially be dangerous, remove the hazard completely if possible, or try your best to guard against it.

These precautions will help give your clients peace of mind, keep kids out of harm’s way at home, and keep landlords happy.

Baby-proofing a rental property
Larissa Gardner
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