For some families, the kitchen is the heart of the home, but in our house, the hub is our living room. It’s where we gather together to chat, read and watch (lots of) television. It’s where my son plays with toys and where my husband and I eat dinner after he goes to bed. Yes, we typically dine on tray tables while watching TV.
We’ve done our homework to ensure that the living room is a safe, comfortable space for our toddler. And it turns out that many of the safety precautions we took when child-proofing the space are similar to the ones you’d take when creating a safe living room for older folks. Here are ways you can design a living room fit for family members of all ages, from babies just learning to walk to elderly grandparents who walk with a cane:
- If your flat screen TV doesn’t hang from the wall, secure it to your entertainment unit with nylon earthquake straps or something similar.
- Anchor heavy furniture like bookcases and media centers into wall studs using brackets or wall straps to prevent them from tipping and falling on a child.
- Replace sharp-edged coffee tables with a round table, padded ottoman, or Moroccan-style pouf. Glass tabletops are especially dangerous if there are active youngsters at home because of their potential to crack or shatter.
- The cords on blinds and window treatments can be a strangulation hazard, so be sure to wrap them up and keep them out of reach from toddlers.
- Cords from lamps, televisions, and other electrical appliances pose a double threat: strangulation and electrocution. Eliminate slack by wrapping up these wires with electrical tape or ties.
- Secure outlets with childproof covers.
- Replace the mesh screen on your fireplace with glass doors to prevent little fingers from getting burned.
- Move large, heavy, or breakable decorative objects away from the edges of tables and off low hanging shelves.
- Secure area rugs with non-stick mats to prevent slipping and tripping.
- Use boxes and baskets to store toys, shoes, or small objects that would otherwise cause clutter on the floor.