TODAY   |  November 16, 2009

Beware of hidden home dangers

Nov. 16: With the help of a home safety expert, consumer reporter Janice Lieberman looks at some of the hazards in your home that you may not even know about.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> home right after this.

>>> this morning on "today's" consumer, hidden dangers that lurk in your home. consumer reporter and reader's digest contributor janice lieberman is here with details.

>> it seems to be everywhere, mike tyson 's daughter dies in a freak accident involving a treadmill. a 3-year-old falls out of a window and survives. here are some of the hazards you may not even know about. heather is a mother of three and has always been concerned about safety in her home.

>> with my first child i was more diligent with baby proofing , i made sure every socket was covered, made sure there were gates on the steps. i tried do as best ascii but you just can't do it all.

>> what's your biggest worry in this house?

>> obviously a child getting injured.

>> reporter: with our cameras rolling, heather agreed to have the safety mom, allison rhodes, inspect her house for hidden dangers. heather, are you willing to have allison show you the good, the bad and the ugly in this house.

>> i'm ready.

>> reporter: the first problem detected involved the stair bannister. over 1,000 children die each year from strangulation. these posts should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. we aren't worried about the baby's head coming through. we're worried about their body coming through and their head not coming through.

>> reporter: a hazard on the rise -- tipovers.

>> one of the challenges with these new flat screen tvs, they aren't as stable as older ones. they don't have the wide base. i know this seems heavy, but if you get an older child, they can absolutely pull this down on them and the majority of tip-over accidents are now happening between furniture and tvs. in fact, there's been a 41% increase in tip-over accidents. best invention known to mankind -- velcro. heavy-duty velcro at the bottom here, you're set. even though she's pretty light, she'll start reaching up here. this is something that can easily tip over. whoops. as we see. so l-brackets. you really want to keep any furniture secured to the walls.

>> reporter: on to the room where a good workout is usually the only thing on your mind.

>> there is over 25,000 injuries a year from sporting equipment. treadmills. stairmasters. some of the concerns we have to look at are when it's going, if a child's on it, burns and abrasions from getting feet caught in there by accident, when there's the safety cord that usually pulls out, that's a strangulation hazard. if you're going to have exercise equipment in the house, make sure you have those layers of safety. keep the door locked and really keep them out at all times. there's no need for children to be in an exercise room.

>> reporter: when it comes to windows, most people can't see the possible dangers. there's not really a good solution for casement windows. this is a major fall. somebody could forget to leave it locked. look. she's reaching for the handle. all it takes is for her to open it and she could easily go out this. but a good solution -- you've thought about it already -- just remove the handle, keep it someplace safe for you.

>> reporter: and you can't rely on the window screen for protection.

>> a screen is not going to keep a child from falling out a window.

>> reporter: window shade strings can also pose a big problem.

>> they can easily stand up on the toilet, come up here and this becomes a strangulation hazard. just tie them up and out of the way so they just can't get to them.

>> reporter: that's all heather needed to hear to quickly make changes.

>> we'll put that away.

>> done.

>> thank you.

>> janice , obviously you should be child proofing your home. it doesn't have to cost a lot of money based on the products you've brought over with you.

>> these are $10 to $20. they come with a few things. this is a window wedge. as you saw, the window can be open but this will stop it. either the width or the height just by putting this in. they can't open it after that.

>> you can use with any kind of window.

>> that's correct. these are window cord cleats. all they need is to play with the cord and wrap it around their next. you saw the implications of that.

>> this is for tip-overs.

>> i like the velcro trick. that was really good. put it on to the tv. but you saw the dresser and bookcase, how it could fall down. these are just pick them up, wrap it around. you can attach it to the wall.

>> have a hook in the wall?

>> you don't see it. it is not going to be ugly.

>> this is for door nobs.

>> but only the round ones. the safety mom says if you have the lever doorknobs, so far they haven't made anything. she suggests replacing all your doorknobs to round ones, putting these on until your child --

>> that locks the down then.

>> they have to squeeze it and turn out.

>> the next, outlet covers.

>> i've seen my son doing it. it is scary. these just slide over. when you are using it. when you don't, they lock and close. they're always closed unless they're in play. this is something that you have something like a computer or tv that's constantly plugged in. this threads through the back.

>> covers the plug as well.

>> this is $99 but it is well worth it. it's a safety gate that actually closes when you leave the room. if you or and older sibling forgets to, it will automatically shut itself.

>> they didn't have this when i had my little kids. that's great. janice , thank you so much. a lot of important information.

>>> still ahead -- our "ambush