Expert Author Katheryn Hoban
Many homes have attached garages or sheds. If you take your typical garage or shed it has many intriguing and alluring elements to attract small curious children!! Let's face it garages hold unlimited mystery and secrecy! Children know that is where their parents go. In their minds something big and wonderful happens there all of which pose challenges, threats and potential hazards to young children.
If you take a moment and think about that garage that is jammed packed with interesting tools, and moving parts, and bright colors of course you can imagine that children would be fascinated and curious. It's obvious that small children don't usually get into trouble while you're there; it happens when the phone rings or the neighbor stops by for a moment, or a sitter is supposed to be watching them. How quickly can your child wander into an open garage, or enter the garage from the interior door leading from the house? Yep, that quickly!!
Let's look at the hazards that we find in the garage. For some people this is their store everything that can't fit in the house place. You have potential chemicals such as cleaners, sprays, paints, acids, liquid and solvents that a child could inhale, taste, touch, and cans that can be tipped over or bottles that can be broken and spilled. Let's remember a partially filled bucket or trough that you just used to wash the coupe can pose an unexpected hazard of drowning for a small child. It doesn't have to hold much water for a child to stick his head in, or slip and lose his balance and be unable to straighten his body up.
In addition there are nice heavy objects like hammers, claws, rakes, stacked furniture pieces, shelving, an extra stacked or stored piece of wall board, lumber, golf clubs, and baseball bats, and other sporting equipment that can potentially fall on his or her foot, head, or knock him or her over.
Garages have great hidden places for children to crawl under or into; under the car that is parked there, in open drawers, and file cabinets, old refrigerators, chests, unto or under stacks of lumber, into barrels, or behind machinery that is there. Open doors may lead to a new deeper hidden location that a small child can enter, and face further challenges, like a door that shuts and locks behind him or her. Sometimes doors lead to a basement or boiler area through the garage, or to the septic tank, or the property well.
Tools and machinery within the garage are great sources of curiosity and hazard for children. They can include screwdrivers, drills, nails, rotors, lawn mowers, strings, ropes, harnesses, straps, knives, box cutters, pencils, power cords, wall sockets and plugs, and at least 10,000 nuts and bolts and other small objects that children can swallow.
Children love to turn things on and off!! If they can find a way to turn it on, they may try by pressing buttons, flipping switches, pulling cords, plugging things in, undoing batteries, or putting a thing inside that appears like a battery.
Things with fast moving parts that may include whirling blades, belts, trolleys, ropes and pulleys; such as a garage door, lawn mower, or tractor offer huge potential for harm for everyone, from small children to a senior citizen.
Now that you are seeing the garage in a whole new light what can you do to secure it?
Organization is the first step of safety. Review what you need to store higher or lock up, put away, or encase with a safety barrier or put a safety lock on power tools. Put away access keys to lawn motors rotors, or choppers etc.
Start by putting small hand tools up higher, lock cabinets, and secure and bolt heavy cabinets and storage units down. Make sure they can't topple over.
Put screws, nails, nuts and bolts, tacks, staples, high out of reach. Organize these in boxes, for easy access. If it is possible, put these away in locked cabinets, or on high shelves. Secure unused lumber stacks with ties. Seal liquid containers. Don't leave half filled buckets. Liquids of any kind can pose several layers of danger. From spills, drowning, to inhalation of deadly toxic fumes.
Lock interior doors that lead to a deeper section of the garage or basement, and encase boilers or lock the room in which boilers are housed. Bend down and see your garage or basement through the eye level of a small child. From this site level, what do you see that is very attractive? What do you see on the floor, in drawers, hanging down within reach? Cords, wires, ropes, tarps, sprays cans, paint cans, and small items that appear toy like, or gun like. That is the first thing that a young one is going for!
Take the time to secure your garage, shed, or basement. Prevention, maintenance, and organization are the best methods in securing your workspace. Lastly set boundaries for small children. Tell them clearly that you do not want them to touch, or play with anything in the garage or basement and if they do there is consequences of time-outs. Children understand boundaries, and respect discipline. Remember the longer you put off organizing and child proofing your garage, the more time and temptations a young child has to get into a hazard situations in there.