Like any other home, a split-level house requires you to take special precautions when your baby becomes mobile. Even though you'll need to cover electrical outlets, put latches on the doors, anchor heavy furniture to walls and secure loose window cords just like you would in a rancher or a two-story home, a split-level presents additional baby-proofing requirements. You'll need to keep the short sets of stairs and partial level setup in mind when making your house safe for your crawling or toddling tot.
Install Stair Gates
While there's no substitute for supervision, putting up a barrier can help prevent stair-related falls. When correctly installed, a gate can keep your baby safely away from stairs. Install gates at both the tops and bottoms of your stairways. Avoid pressure mount gates. These can quickly dislodge, allowing your child to push the gate down and fall. Choose a model that has the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association safety seal. This seal shows you that the product has been tested by industry experts for safety.
Guard the Windows
Just because some the windows of your split-level home are almost at ground level, doesn't mean that your child can't get hurt. Even if her room or play room is on the ground level, you still need to baby-proof the windows. The Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends installing window guards. Choose a model that you can easily remove in case of a fire and that has bars less than 4 inches apart. Even with window guards, you should still move furniture away from the windows. This prevents your child from climbing up to the windows.
Keep the Garage Off-Limits
A popular split-level design includes a lower level family room and garage. In such a home, you must take special care when storing potentially hazardous items. If you've got half-open cans of paint, tools and car parts stacked in the garage, keep your baby out. Place all hazardous materials out of her reach. For example, keep a lockable metal cabinet in your garage for cleaners, paint thinner and similarly dangerous items. Use a door stop or latch to prevent your baby from entering the garage space.
Protect Against Paint Hazards
The split-level emerged during the 1950s and 1960s, and its popularity peaked in the 1970s. Homes built before 1978 may contain lead paint, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Given the age of most split levels, it's possible that your home has some lead paint in it. When lead paint is on stairs, railings, window sills and door frames, it poses a risk for baby child if he touches the dust or chews on the surface. Even though the paint in your home may not seem as obvious a danger as the stairs or electrical outlets, it can still cause harm to your baby. Lead in the bloodstream is associated with lower cognitive functioning, hyperactive behaviors, headaches, abdominal pains and increased agitation, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics. Hire and expert to test and remove or encapsulate the lead paint as part of your baby-proofing process.
- United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Falls: The Reality
- Baby Center: Childproofing Around the House
- Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association: JPMA Certification Program
- Consumer Products Safety Commission: How to Childproof Your Windows
- National Association of Realtors: Realtor Mag: Split-Level Homes: Outdated or Underrated?
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Protect Your Family
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Pediatrics: Lead Exposure in Children: Prevention, Detection, and Management
- Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images
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