How to approach the home childproofing process:
Child proofing wine bottle storage, not to mention a whole kitchen, not to mention the entire house, can sound like a daunting task. Sometimes it might seem easier to just toss everything you own and set up camp in the nursery. And the fact that you have to turn baby-proofing into toddler-proofing into youth-proofing into teenager-proofing can make the idea of turning a home into a child safe zone even more frustrating. But just remember that combining a secure, comfortable environment with attentive supervision and lots of love is the best gift you can give your already growing child. At the same time, don’t forget to love yourself: there’s no reason to stow everything in a rental storage unit when you can use these tips to keep your family safe.
How to child proof the whole house, minus the kitchen
First, crawl around on your hands and knees. Think like a baby, move like a baby, and get curious about that funny little socket over there just like a baby would. The quicker you remove yourself from your grown-up view of all household objects, the quicker you can child proof your house and the safer it will be. The following is a checklist of possible dangers for young children, whether they’re crawling, tottering, or strutting in their training pants like they own the place. As you take care of these hazards, always keep an eye out for other possible dangers. The bottom line is, if it looks like it could hurt your child in any way, it probably can.
- Install cabinet locks on any low cabinets.
- Turn down the water heater temperature to prevent any mishap with too-hot bath water before it can even happen.
- Always drain all water in the tub, sink, and any other containers.
- Install a toilet lid lock or safety latch to prevent toilet bowl water access.
- Elevate all cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, grooming tools, medicines (including vitamins), etc. into
a locked medicine cabinet.
- Remove any cleaning supplies from behind the toilet and stow them in a locked supply closet.
- Be aware of what you throw away in the trash can – even floss can be dangerous.
Living Room/Dining Areas:
- Seal off unused electrical outlets using temporary electrical outlet caps. For plugged-in cords that you want to leave in, use sliding electrical outlet covers and power strip covers. Tie up/tape down the cords.
- Vacuum the carpet regularly and sweep the floors. Check for thumbtacks, bobbypins, coins, etc., that might have rolled into nooks and crannies.
- Move all plants onto high ledges and dressers.
- Rearrange the sofas and other furniture so windows aren’t accessible from them.
- Fasten any tall furniture to the wall.
- Add corner bumpers to any objects with sharp corners.
- Place a guard door in front of the fireplace.
- Don’t put any unnecessary objects or blankets in the crib.
- Use a new crib that meets federal safety standards.
- Keep the crib well away from the window, and avoid using curtains/miniblinds with cords.
- Hang mobiles out of the standing reach of your child.
Attic, Basement, Garage:
- Keep these areas off-limits at all times with baby doorknob locks.
- Install baby gates at the base and top of any staircases.
How to child proof the kitchen, minus the wine bottle storage
The kitchen is one of the toughest areas to make a-okay for baby. Not only do you have a gazillion cabinets available for the little one to try to get to, the kitchen area often has wide entrances that can be hard to block off without a fortress of baby gates. There are also all of those now-scary-looking appliances, from the oven to the stove to the fridge to the wine cooler. Here are the hot spots to hit:
- Push everything — pots, pans, forks, cutting boards, etc. — back from the edge of the counter so it can’t be pulled down to the ground.
- Install child-proof locks on all cabinets and drawers. And just to be safe:
- •Keep detergents and cleaners in a high cabinet.
- •Put mouse traps and bug baits way out of reach or remove them.
- •Store sharp utensils, glassware, and the like out of reach.
- Lock the trash can compartment or purchase a lockable trash can.
- Store plastic wrap and storage bags in a locked closet.
- Remove the stove knobs and only cook on the back burners.
- Elevate the microwave to a place where the controls can’t be reached/it can’t be pulled down.
- Use a button strap or padlock to lock the fridge.
- Remove all magnets from the fridge.
How to child proof the wine bottle storage
Wine bottle coolers are especially important to babyproof because most are about 2 to 3 feet tall — this is just the right height for a little kid to go mooching in. And, whereas opening the heavy door of the main refrigerator may be harder for a toddler, a beverage cooler door is more lightweight and will be easier to pull open. Your safety strategy will ultimately depend on what type of wine cooler you have, but here are the main problem areas to address.
Keep the wine cooler shut tight
First, check if your wine cooler already has a lock installed. For example, products like the NewAir AWR-460DB Wine Cooler come with a lock built-in specifically for the purpose of keeping out children (and any thieves who might want your vintages). You won’t need to purchase a separate child lock for these types of wine coolers. However, for any wine bottle storage that doesn’t have this, you’ll need a fridge door latch, or a button strap fridge lock, or a multi-function lock. These baby proofing accessories are designed for temporary — though secure — use, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your wine cabinet exterior.
Also note, you should never take out and leave out the removable shelves in your wine cabinet, or leave the door open. Otherwise you run the risk of your child getting trapped inside if they gain access to the unit.
Protect the wine temperature control panel
With wine coolers such as the NewAir model mentioned above, the temperature control panel is inside the actual unit, so you don’t have to worry about ten sticky little fingers pressing every button at once. If you do have a cabinet with an external control panel, you’ll have to get creative about baby proofing this component. That’s because there aren’t products out there specifically designed for this purpose. Instead, consider using a TV panel guard, which is made out of transparent plastic and can be attached to the appliance with velcro. You can also try an L-shaped DVD player baby guard, which can be mounted to the top of the wine cooler with velcro, and which will hang down and cover the buttons.
Watch the back of the wine cooler
For most wine coolers to chill properly, there needs to be a small gap between the cabinet and any surrounding walls. Unfortunately, too-large of gaps can turn into enticing crawlspaces for kids. That’s why models like the AWR-460DB are great for homes with small children: they’re installed directly into the existing cabinetry, which means there’s no nook for crawling behind the unit.
But if you already have freestanding wine bottle storage, the solution may simply be rearrangement. First check your wine cooler owner’s manual for the minimum air clearance needed around the appliance. Generally the side space will be less than one inch, and the back will require only about four inches. If you currently have your wine cabinet in the middle of the floor with the rear exposed, move it into a recessed wall space, or between two pieces of furniture with solid sides. With less than an inch required on either side, these crannies will be too small for a child to access, while still giving the wine cooler proper air clearance.
Look out for the electrical cord
Anything electrical is a big no-no for children. If your wine cabinet is plugged into an accessible outlet, use the same electrical outlet covers mentioned in the living room tips above, as they will allow your cooler to remain plugged in. And for cords that extend even a little bit to reach an outlet, hide the cable and keep it laying flat on the floor by using a cord protector. Also, do not use extension cords. The goal is to keep your baby from being able to yank out the cord or getting tangled up in it.
Check for front vents on the wine cooler
Many compressor wine coolers, and especially those that are designed to be installed in cabinetry, will have front vents. While this is convenient for maintaining the proper wine temperature inside, it’s not so convenient when you have a curious child who likes poking their fingers and objects into stuff. This is easy to fix: just take a strip of thin highly breathable fabric or a nylon screen, cut it to size, and tape it over the vent openings.
Child-safe wine coolers
If you’re currently relying on regular old standing wine racks to display your wine, it’s really difficult to baby-proof these products. If you don’t move the whole rack into a locked closet (and what’s the point of having a wine rack then?) chances are your child is going to try to pull out the glass wine bottles. This is why it’s much better to use a wine bottle cabinet: not only can the collection safely nest inside, it also has the added benefit of keeping your wine at the right temperature for the best flavor. Of the wine cooler types, a built-in unit is the most child-safe for the reasons mentioned above.
If you really don’t want to child proof your wine bottle storage, then it’s time to start drinking all that wine! At least this will solve the problem of teenager-proofing your wine, because that’s a whole ‘nother story!