Homes are supposed to be your comfort zone, but many hidden dangers lurk there. House fires are thought to be the most common household danger, claiming 700 lives each year and affecting adults and children in more than 85,000 homes. However, household objects like windows and electrical products can be harmful too. "Today" contributor Lou Manfredini offers some tips to keep your child safer at home.
With only 23 percent of people in a study saying they have a fire evacuation plan, parents should know what steps to take in case of a fire.
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are a must, in every home. Children can become confused when they hear the smoke detector, and they might not know what to do, especially children under 6 years of age. A new KidSmart™ vocal smoke detector lets you record a stern message in your own voice to direct your children out of the home. It costs about $69 and is easy to use and test. (For more information visit: www.kidsmartcorp.com. And for more information on teaching your children about fire safety, visit .)
If you are doing any remodeling to your home or even building a new one, the life blood of that home is the electrical system. It runs almost everything in your home. Proper electrical protection is a must.
A new addition to the electrical code is making homes even safer. AFCI breakers are now required to protect all bedrooms. If you are having any new electrical work done in your home, this is something to be aware of. These breakers protect the receptacles, switches, and devices from arcing and potentially starting an electrical fire. If a lamp, fan or small electric heater were unplugged while still being switched on, there could be an arc that could lead to a fire. Make sure your electrical contractor is licensed and is aware of the new codes.
Children’s furniture is getting bigger and taller. We just purchased new beds and frames for our boys, and I was amazed how tall the beds were. This can be a problem if the beds are close to a window. The window screen will not protect a child from falling out.
New interior window grates should be installed, and many states are requiring their installation. With just a few screws you can install these units, and in the event of a fire, they can be removed easily to provide escape through the window.
If the idea of a window grate concerns you, then you can install a window wedge that will allow a window to open only a limited amount.
Bookcases or a large dresser can tip over onto your child. There are simple kits that you screw into the back of the furniture and then screw into the wall and stud to prevent tipping. These straps easily unhook to move the furniture for cleaning. (To find these items you can visit your local children's store or visit Web sites that offer children's safety products.)
If you have window treatments in your child’s room, make sure cords don’t hang. Consider installing a cord tamer, which will pull the cords out of reach, or a cordless window shade. Levelor makes a complete line in many colors and you can also find other brands in most stores that sell children's safety products.
A new way to make your child’s bed and any other bed safer is available. Mattresses can be a serious flash point in the event of a home fire. All of the mattresses made by Serta™ now have Fire-Blocker technology to prevent the bed from bursting into flames. What is amazing to me is that Serta™ is the only mattress maker that offers this technology across their entire line and in all 50 states. In my opinion, other makers need to follow suit:
Finger jam safety
If there are words I always seem to say to my kids, it’s “Don’t slam the doors.” I have this fear of fingers getting caught. A simple device called the “Door Mouse” clips on the edge of the door and will allow you to almost shut the door while keeping fingers safe. (To find this item you can visit your local children's store or visit Web sites that offer children's safety products.)
"Mr. Fix-It" Lou Manfredini is a regular contributor to "Today." If you have more questions, visit .