By Eve Hernandez
The anticipated joys of becoming a new homeowner come with lots of advance planning. Budgeting and design or style choices often get top consideration during home-buying, but creating a safe household is also a key priority, especially if your family includes (or will soon include) little ones of the two-legged or four-legged nature.
While U.S. Millennials, on the whole, may have delayed starting families, nearly half of American women ages 22 – 37 (as of August 2018) have become moms. Add to this the fact that, even though there’s no official “pet census,” studies show that over half of American households own a pet. And when we get right down to it, many Millennials have a “pet first” approach to homebuying and starting families.
With this in mind, we asked our internal focus group (the Generations FCU Human Resources team, whose members maintain ninja-level child- and pet-wrangling skills) for their top child and pet safety tips. We learned that there are many similarities between making a home child and pet-proof. Here their key recommendations:
- Keep items off of counters and floors. If at all possible, toddlers and pets both love to meet the world with their taste buds. Ingesting small items like batteries and control panel pieces (knobs, buttons) is an obvious safety hazard that can be mitigated by storing these items out of reach. One of our panelists reminds us that larger dogs can chew right through remote controls and electrical cords if they’re not stashed away. Food items and bathroom products left out between uses can also pose a danger. For the best peace of mind, stow these items in cabinets or drawers.
- Keep it locked. Storing potentially dangerous items won’t help if your baby or fur baby learns to use a drawer pull or cabinet knob. Doors, windows and baby gates should also be in use for maximum home safety. Sliding electrical outlet covers, tamper resistant locks, straps and latches are available at online retailers, as well as home improvement stores and at some local grocery stores. Read up on consumer reviews, and determine whether your locks need an upgrade as your smallest family members get even more curious and adventurous.
- Keep storage pieces anchored to walls. A panel member reminds us that when all dresser drawers are opened at once, or when a child or pet attempts to climb up shelves, there’s a danger of the furniture tipping and injuries occurring. Be sure to use the additional hardware included with shelving and other furniture to securely attach pieces to wall studs (boards that form the inner frame of the walls). Watch these tutorials on how to anchor furniture to walls to help decide whether you can do it yourself or need to reach out for professional assistance.
- Keep a vigilant eye on items like toys, shoes, ropes and chew bones. On occasions when these items are within reach, make sure that all pieces are intact. When it’s time to put things away, clean away any dirt or baby residue (can we get a shout out for germicidal wipes already, please?). Check the toys again before storing to make sure there are no loose or damaged pieces.
- Keep appliances family-friendly. A panelist with a highly inquisitive pre-kindergartner in the house says that a door-in-door refrigerator with the freezer on bottom helps her child safely gain some independence. She can easily pack for snack time because mom has already put those items in reach. Also, electronic panel locks on stoves and microwaves are now available at a variety of price ranges, and physical locks are also available online and at home improvement stores.
Put these steps in place to help baby proof and pet-proof your home. And if you’re ready to make a move, get pre-qualified with a Generations mortgage at MyGenFCU.org/Mortgage.