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The first rule to childproofing is to accept that there is no such thing. Short of converting your home to a padded-wall prison, you can’t take away all of the dangers that wait in the form of appliances and other stuff. No matter how safe you think you’ve made it, smart little babies have a tendency to come up with new and improved dangerous activities. The bottom line is, don’t leave your child unsupervised unless you’re absolutely sure there’s no possibility for trouble. Even if you are, don’t leave them for long. Mothers, and some fathers, know that when there’s silence, there’s trouble. When there’s noise, there’s trouble.

All of that said, there are some basic steps you can take to make sure your home is as safe as possible for your little one(s). The main things to safeguard are electrical outlets and appliances, stairways and water.

Plugs that cover electrical outlets are easily found for any kind of connection. For outlets not in use, get the plastic covers that plug in. If you are using an outlet, get the kind that spin shut if the plug is pulled out. Also be aware that some plugs come out of the appliance—especially on cordless phones, answering machines and computers. These can be hazardous since they are still plugged into an outlet even if unplugged from the machine. Keep them out of reach of children. You can even get a protective box for power strips, which offer an inviting selection of chords to tug on if you’re a child.

Also be aware of electrical or other items that a child might reach up and pull down. It can land on them and cause serious injury, fire or worse. You may have to move things around, but it’s worth it to have open space and tables that keep danger out of reach from little hands.

As far as stairways, only an approved gate or door will suffice. If you do have a doorway, make sure it shuts and latches completely and cannot be pushed open without turning the knob. The top as well as the bottom of stairways needs to be blocked off. A child could easily climb a few stairs and then tumble back down. Most gates can swing open and shut and are relatively affordable. They also mean less chasing, so don’t be afraid to get a few or even more. Make sure all stairways are blocked and keep an eye on how the gates work with your child. Kids are often clever in their efforts to overcome obstacles and a gate that held a child yesterday may not do so for long. Keep an eye on the situation to make sure your gates are still doing the job.

Water is another hazard for children. That doesn’t just mean a pool. Children have been known to drown in a toilet or even a little water in the tub. Block off the bathroom and make sure you’re aware if your child is around any type of water at all.

The other main things to safeguard are cupboards and drawers that house sharp objects, chemicals or trash. Childproof clamps are easy to find and install. There are also U-shaped locks and other safeguards that will work with different furniture or cabinets. Even if you lock the cupboard, it’s still a good idea to store chemicals out of reach. Again, kids can be quite cunning in their efforts to crack your clamps. If the chemicals are on a high shelf, there’s no possibility for poisoning.

The rest of childproofing comes from observing your child in action. It’s amazing the things you’ll have to move or make off-limits. By watching what your child does and where he or she goes, you can stay on top of the childproofing game.