Home Tips: Safe At Home

Amy Bickers Mercer

A person's house is his or her castle. Luckily, making it safe doesn't require installing a moat. While winter weather has you cozied up inside, take a look around. Is your home keeping you and your loved ones safe? Here are a few new products and ideas for dodging danger.

Baby Blockade
Gates have come a long way, baby! Now there's a gate for almost any opening, irregular or typical. Install one before the children in your life become mobile, and take it down once they are tall enough to climb over (about 2 or 3 years old).

Pressure-mounted gates are easy to install. They expand to fit and are secured with locking bars. Unfortunately, adults typically climb over them, setting a bad example for small children and potentially knocking them out of place over time. Pressure-mounted gates are best for temporary situations, such as in a vacation home or an out-of-town relative's house.

Hardware-mounted gates attach to walls and banisters with screws. Extensions and other customization products are available to make the gates effective in any situation, including for pets. Many of them feature walk-throughs so an adult may pass through easily.

Head Off Head Injuries
When placed on top of a square or rectangular table, plastic guards protect little ones from sharp corners. Also try putting the guards on the underside corners of the table to protect children when they stand up.

Create Your Own Safety Code
Everyone knows you should have heavy-duty locks on your exterior doors, but what about interior doors? Use an electronic keypad lock to keep the curious out of utility rooms, garages, or basements. The Schlage keypad lock ($119 to $139) requires an access code for entry. It can be installed with a screwdriver and runs on a 9-volt battery so no electrician is required.

"Home Tips: Safe At Home" is from the February 2007 issue of Southern Living.