By Bill Primavera
When I observe all the child safety features in today’s cars, strollers and homes, I wonder how any of us over 50 years old survived this long.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a toddler in the house, but I knew things had changed significantly when my daughter told me that we couldn’t put my grandson into her old crib or high chair because they were too dangerous.
Considering that her bed, from the time she was a toddler until her teen years, was a stenciled antique from the 1840s made with no thought of safety at all, it’s lucky that my wife and I weren’t arrested for endangering the welfare of a child.
As a realtor, I once showed a home that was so heavily protected for child safety that I kept embarrassing myself by being unable to figure out the contraptions meant to stump toddlers. I wasn’t immediately able to open the door to the basement or release a safety gate at the top of the stairs. I noted that there was even a safety lock on the toilet. Fortunately, my clients didn’t ask to use it.
Had I stumbled and fallen, I’m sure my head would have bounced off something soft like a rubber guard along the raised fireplace hearth or spongy protection on the edge of a chest.
Today, parents of young children have a world of products that ensure their child’s safety. After taking care of the safety issues, they can plan a child’s room around fun, education and delightful themes.
When I was a child during the Dark Ages, my older brother and I shared a room that had two twin beds, a chair and one chest of drawers. Not much better than a monastery cell, the room had only one decoration: a picture of two orphans from Boys Town, where an older boy is carrying a younger one on his back through the snow, and below is the quote “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s my brother.” I still have that picture in my room.
At one time there was a children’s furniture store in Yorktown that was a fount of information regarding child safety. However, it was forced out of business by online options.
I remember clearly the child safety issues I discussed with its owner. When I asked about which safety products are the most essential for a home with children, I was told that there’s no specific thing that is more important than the other. It’s a combination of everything, depending on whatever might go wrong in any room in the house.
The first safety device described to me was a strap that attaches from a wall to the back of a flat screen television or any piece that is likely to tip over. Other safeguard products were identified as doorknob covers, cabinet latches, stove guards, microwave locks, refrigerator locks, electric socket covers and guards for folding and sliding closet doors.
I found it amusing when the store owner said that with toilet seat locks, he would suggest that homeowners remember to unlock them when expecting company.
His strongest caution was that safety gates at the top of the stairs be mounted into the wall, making them more secure than pressure gates. Pressure gates have a bar across the bottom, and no matter how many times you remind yourself, you can easily trip over the bar when the gate is open.
Once the necessity of safety is addressed, there is a world of adventure in designing a child’s room, starting with high-quality cribs that convert to full-size beds, using the back as a headboard and the front as the footboard, adding sidebars and slats. Beauty can be combined with practicality with multiuse furniture. A loft bed might feature storage for clothes while providing other functions as well.
I clearly remember that when I was about five years old, I turned the knob without a safety device leading to the basement, and I tumbled down the steps, landing on my head on a concrete floor.
I survived the mishap, but whenever I acted weird, even into my teenage years, my mother would always speculate that it was that bounce of my head against the concrete that was at the root of the problem.
Bill Primavera, while a publicist and journalist, is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.