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Child safety and childproofing your home go hand in hand. Childproofing your home will give you peace of mind and allow your toddler to play freely.

To ensure child safety, use the following list to go through each room and make sure you have childproofed everything.

Child safety in the bedroom

  • Make sure all plugs are covered with secure plug covers.
  • Medication must be stored in an out-of-reach, locked cupboard (those high enough that your child is unable to reach them even when they pull up a chair to stand on).
  • Use child safety caps on all medication.
  • Do not give your child medication in the dark – always read the label carefully.
  • Never tell your child that medication is sweets in the hope that it will get them to take the medicine more easily. This gives them a potentially dangerous message.
  • Lotions, make-up, nail-polish remover, and so on, must also be out of reach.
  • Never leave your handbag lying around – there is often medication in your bag.
  • To prevent choking, do not let your young child play with any toys that can fit through the inside tube of a standard roll of toilet paper.
  • Use non-toxic paints, play dough and crayons – this way you donʼt have to worry if the child eats it.
  • Make sure all wooden toys and furniture are painted with lead-free paint.
  • Seal the battery areas of toys with packaging tape, especially toys with button batteries.
  • Make sure that buttons or beads sewn onto soft toys are secure and canʼt come off.
  • Mattresses must be firm and fit the cot properly – no more than two fingers between the cot and mattress.
  • Cot slats must be close together to prevent the infant from getting his head between the slats.
  • Never leave your baby alone on the changing table or the high chair.
  • Be careful of having long cords on blinds or curtains.
  • If you own a firearm, it must be kept locked away with the ammunition stored separately.

Child safety in the bathroom

  • Use non-slip bathmats in the bath and shower.
  • Supervise children at bath time and never leave young children alone in the bathroom. Never expect older siblings to look after young children at bath time.
  • Turn the thermostat temperature down if the water is very hot.
  • Always run cold water through the tap last – this will prevent children from burning themselves on the tap.
  • Remove the keys from the doors – once children discover how to use keys and locks, they may lock themselves in, unable to get out again (the same goes for other rooms).
  • Keep shampoos, bubble bath, etc. out of reach of children.
  • Toilet-seat locks are also available.

Child safety in the kitchen

  • Keep all electrical cords out of reach of children.
  • Turn off the stove at the main switch if the knobs are in reach of children.
  • Always use the back plates of the stove to cook on if not all the plates are in use.
  • Always put pot handles facing towards the back of the stove.
  • Teach your children about “hot” and staying away from the stove.
  • Keep matches and gas lighters out of reach of children.
  • Use safety catches on cupboards, drawers, fridges, dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Always leave a cupboard and drawer unlatched with plastic containers in it for your toddler to unpack and play with freely.
  • Make sure drawers with knives, scissors and sharp cooking utensils have safety latches.
  • Keep all cleaning agents out of reach in a cupboard. They can cause serious damage if ingested.
  • Teach children to sit still at a table when eating and not to laugh or run around with food in their mouths. This can prevent choking.
  • Keep alcohol out of reach.

Find more advice and tips on child safety here and here.

Child safety in the living area

  • Keep heaters away from furniture, cushions and curtains.
  • Do not use open bar heaters or open gas heaters with children around.
  • Use fire-safety grids in front of fireplaces.
  • All plugs in the lounge must have secure plug covers.
  • Use plastic “corners” for sharp corners on coffee tables.
  • Use safety gates on the top and bottom of stairwells.
  • Make sure balconies have child-safe railings.
  • Be careful when using tablecloths as toddlers love to pull the corners, with disastrous consequences! Rather use place mats that they canʼt reach.
  • Sliding glass doors need to have childproof glass fitted, as do low windows.
  • Place stickers on glass doors so toddlers can see them clearly.

Child safety in the garden and garage

  • All electric gates and garage doors must be fitted with a child safety mechanism that stops them automatically if a child is in the way.
  • All pesticides, paints, turpentine, etc. must be kept out of reach in a locked cupboard.
  • Never decant pesticides, turpentine or cleaning agents into cool-drink or other bottles.
  • Ask your nursery about “child-friendly” pesticides.
  • Certain plants are toxic if eaten – ask your local nursery if you are concerned or unsure about plants in your garden.
  • All pools and ponds must have fences around them with double-latching gates. The gates must have locks on them at all times (check with a pool company to see if your pool fence meets the SABS specifications). Pool nets need to be put back on the pool every time children are out the pool. Make sure there is nothing next to the pool fence that children can climb onto; for example, pot plants and furniture.
  • Do not allow children to swim unsupervised or expect older children to look after younger children.


Childsafe is an injury prevention unit based at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital that aims to reduce and prevent injuries of children through research, education and recommendations to legislation. Tel: 021 685 5208 OR 021 685 0114.