It seems like there is an endless selection of gadgets and gizmos designed to make our homes more child-friendly. Between catches on cupboards, gates in doorways and pads on hard edges, most parents are more than familiar with what it takes to keep little ones safe indoors.
What about the garage?
Of course, it’s no place for infants or toddlers. However, as children grow, so does their curiosity, and it can be hard to keep independent kids out of the garage forever. As adults we’re quite familiar with the potential hazards inside the garage – after all, we put most of them there – and can usually stay out of harm. For children, it can easily become a treasure trove that needs exploring.
Here are seven tips for making your garage that little bit safer for intrepid children, keeping them out of harm’s way.
1 – Make sure that internal and external doors are kept locked when the garage is not being used. This reduces the chance of your kids using the garage without your knowledge.
2 – Keep chemicals and DIY substances high up and hidden away. Bright tins, pots and cans can easily attract the attention of little ones, who don’t understand that the stuff inside can be quite nasty. Storing paint and solvents on a high shelf isn’t enough, as it can only tempt bolder children to climb onto surfaces. Best practice is to hide them in a cupboard or under a sheet so they’re out of sight.
3 – Be mindful that large storage units like boxes, freezers, chests and even a parked car can look like fun hiding places to a child. Keep them locked to save little ones getting trapped.
4 – The same goes for recycling and general waste bins. Not only do you not want rubbish strewn about your garage, but these can often contain harmful items that you don’t want your child playing with or ingesting.
5 – If you have an automated door, test the reverse feature regularly. To do this, break the sensor beam when the door is closing. A properly functioning door should stop immediately before reversing its motion. If the door doesn’t reverse, or the door continues to close – even for a second – after the beam has been broken, contact an expert as soon as possible to carry out an emergency service.
6 – Loose tools are a trip hazard and can sometimes be mistaken for toys. Keep all equipment – from lawnmowers to brooms and rakes – secured and/or out of reach of children.
7 – It’s a good idea to store sports equipment and unused outdoor toys somewhere secure, too. Not only will this prevent large items from falling on a little one, but also give you peace of mind that basketballs, hockey sticks or footballs aren’t being used too close to your car!
The main thing is to talk to your children, explaining the ground-rules for being in the garage. Obviously, there’s no need to scare them, but as one of the more hazardous areas of your home, safe behaviour in the garage should be an important message to discuss. After all, all parents will agree that prevention is far better than a trip to A&E!