Saturday, March 21, 2009

Driveway Safety

Driveways can be a very dangerous place for children to play. Your children are at risk from people inadvertently entering your driveway while your they play. The best solution is obviously to simply not use this area as a play space. Realizing that this is not always possible you should take precautions to avoid the possibilities. An easy no cost solution is to simply block the end of your driveway with your car, but lets make sure that your children are inside the house while you do this. Every year children are run over by their own parents while backing out of their driveway.

If using your car as a barrier doesn't work, you could purchase several Children At Play signs or a barrier made of netting that will help keep you little ones from entering the street and alert a driver to the fact that children are at play. These barriers come in several different flavors. The first is the Kidcatcher which it the most substantial but more work to install. Two sleeves are placed in the ground (the best way is to use some quick set concrete around them for better support). two posts are inserted into the sleeves and there is a netting that stretches between them. This is the best system as it is strong enough to stop a small child from running into the street.

The second type is The Kid Safe Driveway Guard which can be purchased in retractable or non-retractable styles and in several lengths. The Kid Safe Driveway Guard is more of a visual barrier and does not have as much strength to stop a child from entering an unsafe area.

No matter which system you choose you should realize its limitations and never leave your children alone when they are at play outside.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fireplace and Wood Stove Safety

Wood Stoves and Fireplaces represent significant hazards to toddlers and young children. The first and most obvious one is the danger of being burnt by the fire in a Fireplace or the hot surface of a Wood Stove or Gas Fireplace.

Lets deal with Wood Stoves first. Almost all Wood Stoves are installed on a brick or stone surface. Some are raised and some are at floor level. The best solution is a HearthGate, it surround the Wood Stove and should be installed at least two feet away from the stove to make sure that a child can not reach the hot surface through the the bars of the gate. This solution guards against burns and the possibility of a toddler falling against the hard surface of the stove or hearth. To the best of my knowledge this is the only practical solution.

Wood burning fireplaces also represent considerable risk to children. As with Wood Stoves the possibility of burns is a major concern and in most cases there is also a raise hearth to contend with. The best solution here is also the HearthGate. In some cases parents may be looking for a different solution. If that is the case for you I would suggest a Fireplace Lock and a Hearth Pad. Hearth Guards as they are also called come in various shapes sizes and colors. Some cover the edge and top of the hearth, some attach with adhesive and some clamp on, you can get them with either standard or oversized edges. Hearth Pads are easy to install and can be kept clean with a damp rag.

The last hazard is the Gas Fireplace. These are exceptionally dangerous. Many generate massive amounts of heat and their surfaces would case instantaneous severe burns. The best solution would be not to use it and just turn of the gas. At the very least make sure that the remote control or switch that controls it is out of reach. The best solution is the same as the others. Install a HearthGate its simple the best solution.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Safe Environment For Your Baby Within The Household Chaos

A great way to create a safe place for your baby within the normal chaotic household is through the use of Play Yards. Play Yards come in many shapes and sizes and most of them do a great job of creating a safe place for your child plazy. They are useful when you can not give your child the full attention they need such as when you are showering , cooking, checking your email or performing some other task that requires too much of your attention.

Purchase a play yard that is at least 28-30 inches high and that has a door to walk through, lifting your child over the side simply gives them the idea that the way out is to climb. Avoid the colorful play yards that seem to have activities built in, they are usually not tall enough and many also have foot holds that your child may use to climb the sides.

Successful use of a play yard depends on you. You need to be consistent with its use so that your baby does not object. Try to set up a routine and stick to it. Let your baby know that their play yard is their space to play safely.

Many parents choose to install a soft foam Play Mat under their baby's play yard, make sure that the play mat is rated for age o and up, many are age 3 and up, this is not a developmental issue it is a matter of safety.

I have 3 favorite play yards one is the Soft Sided Play Yard , the second if the Play Den and the last is the Metal or Wood SuperYards. The soft sided play area is the largest right out of the box but both others have extension avaiable.

I hope this gives you the information you need to make an objective decision.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gate Mounting Systems (The Secret To A Successful Installation)

I previously talked about the three different types of gates and their appropriate use. I hope you still remember the information, if not you might want to review it before continuing.

I promised that I would make your installations easier, safer and less aggravating so here is the scoop.

Pressure Mounted Gates do not usually require gate mounts because they are designed to be mounted in doorways or to other hard surfaces. Some gates that call themselves pressure gates come with small cups that must be attached to the wall first using either screws or adhesive and than the pressure pads of the gate extend into the mounted cups. These are really not pressure gates but are almost always put into the same category. The cups do make for a more secure installation but if your goal is not to make any holes in your woodwork than you have not succeeded. That is why my favorite pressure mounted gates are made by Kidco. They are true pressure gates and are the only gates that actually apply additional pressure across the top when latched. The Kidco Center Gateway does have the ability to mount between a wall and a baluster using their GY Spindle Kit. This should only be done at the bottom of a staircase, never at the top and a Hardware Mounted Gate is still the preferred gate on the top and bottom of a staircase.

Hardware Mounted Gates & Gates That Can Be Mounted On An Angle almost always require Gate Mounts. The basic idea is that you need two flat wood surfaces across from each other in order to mount you gate. The exception to this is when mounting to a door frame or other wood framed opening.

The basic wall mount consists of several item, a wood rail usually 36" long. A wood block equal to the thickness of the baseboard, screws and or wall anchors. The rail is attached on the outside of the baseboard with a wood block behind it at the top equal to the thickness of the baseboard below. If you have a stud behind the mount you can use screws to attach it firmly to the wall. If you are not that lucky you should us wall anchors to attach it. I suggest you use 2 toggle bolts to do this job. The need to be at least 3 1/2" long. A good way to get everything you need to do this job is to buy a GM1 Mounting Kit from Safe Beginnings.

Mounting to a Newel Post is very different than mounting to a wall and there is more than one method of doing this. You can screw the gate mount to the post, this is easiest when the newel post is either square all the way up or when the post has square flat surfaces at the top and bottom. Sometime the post may have surfaces that are on different planes and a block like the ones used on wall mounts may be required. Many times the post may be square at the bottom an round at the top, this type of installation will also require woodblocks to make up for the tapering of the newel post.

If you would like not to damage you newel post by drilling holes in it I would recommend a no hole gate mount that is made up of clamps that attach to the newel post and vertical rail that attaches to them. This can be used on most modern posts and eliminating those ugly hole after the child safety gate is removed. The mounting kit I recommend is the GM5 No-Hole Gate Mount by Safety Innovations. Just in case you wanted to know my favorite Stairway Gate is the Angle Mount Safeway.

Sometimes there is no newel post to attach to,either there is not one at all or it is not where you would like to mount your gate or in some cases the newel post is behind several balusters at the bottom of the staircase. In this case you would probably want to use on of the New Baluster Mounts from Safety Innovations. These mounts attach between two balusters with a vertical rail attached to them for you to mount your gate to. I will talk more about them in my next post as well as covering any mounting situations with wide or irregular area Child Safety Gates.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Three Types of Child Safety Gates

There are three basic types of Baby Gates.
Pressure Fit Baby Gates - These Baby Gates come in several different styles. Once upon a time they were simply barriers than were wedged between two walls or in a door way and you had to step over them in order to go through or remove them completely. Much has changed. Most Pressure Gates today are what I call pressure mounted walk-through gates. This means that the gate itself stays across the opening and is held in place by pressure that is usually created by extending threaded pressure pads to the wall or door jam, these gates have a door that can be opened and closed for convenience. Because this type has a gate within a gate it also has a threshold across the bottom when the gate is opened. Some parents are concerned about having to step over this but let me assure you that the threshold is not really an issue. A great example of this type of gate is the Kidco Center Gateway or the North States Auto Close Gate. Two thing all pressure gates have in common is that they require two flat surfaces across from each other to be mounted against and they can't be mounted on an angle. The best use of this type of gate is in a wood framed doorway. You should also be cautious of mounting against a hollow wall as the pressure pads are likely to punch a hole in the wall. These gates generally are not designed to be mounted on staircases.

Let's make sure that you are selecting this type of gate for the right reason. Yes you should select a pressure fit gate if you are installing it in a doorway or an opening between two rooms and have two solid flat surfaces to mount against. Don't choose this type of gate because you think they will not do any damage to your walls or door frames. The very nature of these gates (applying pressure) says it all. No matter what type of gate you select there will be the need to apply Spackle and paint when your gate is removed in order to bring your home back to its previous luster.

Hardware Mounted Baby Gates - These gates are sometimes also called Stairway Gates because they are the most appropriate type of Child Safety Gate for a staircase. I use this type in installations even if they are not being mounted on a staircase. They are versatile and when mounted properly they are easy to open, most can be removed easily from the mounting hardware if there are occasions when having a Baby Gate installed is not appropriate. These gates also come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Some have the added ability of being able to be mounted on an angle if necessary. Child Safety Gates That Can Be Mounted On An Angle are always a good choice because they can be mounted straight across or on an angle. The ability of these gates to mount at different angles vary, the gate that can be mounted at the steepest angle is the Angle Mount Safeway. My suggestion is to always review the manufacturers instructions prior to attempting installation. Reviewing instructions and installing the gate may even be best accomplished at different times. Any installation where you do not have two flat wood surfaces across from each other would require a Gate Mount in order to have a safer more secure installation. Gate Mounting Systems will be covered in a later post on this blog. I am sure you are getting the message that Hardware Mounted Child Safety Gates are almost always the best choice even though they may require more effort of your part.

Don't Forget the three secrets to successful gate mounting. Choose the right gate for you situation. Read the instructions in advance when that little person is sleeping and you are not distracted. Don't forget to either purchase or make your own gate mounts to install your Child Safety Gate properly.

Child Safety Gates For Wide Or Irregular Openings - Wide or irregular openings usually take a little more time to plan but may actually end up being very simple to install. These situations requires you to do a little creative thinking.

Wide Openings- The first question is how wide is really wide. Are we talking about 48", 72" or 12 or 15 feet. If we are talking about 48" to about 60" these opening can be covered by some pressure gates when adding extensions or a hardware mounted gate also with extensions. Although my preference has been mounted gates these situations may lend themselves to using either a Pressure Mounted Walk-Through Baby Gate or a Hardware Mounted Walk-Through Child Safety Gate. The reason for these choices are that you are not swinging the entire gate in order to pass through. You are only opening the doorway that exists within the gate in order to pass.

Irregular Openings - These may be large or small areas but in both cases require a Child Safety Gate System that has great versatility. The best of these systems is the Kidco ConfigureGate. The basic gate is made of three 24" panels with the center panel having a walk-through gate in it. Each panel can be connected to the next one at almost infinite angles. Panels (either 24" or 8") can be added or remove to form very large and differently shaped enclosure. The gate itself rests on the floor but only attaches at he wall. The strength of these type of gates is the curves created with the panels and the contact with the floor (no more than two or three panels should be mounted in a straight line). If you are using one of these systems across a straight wide opening of lets say 10 feet or so I would use 12 to 14 feet of gate so that I could create a curved enclosure that would make the gate much more rigid.

I hope that my explanation of the different types of Child Safety Gates has been helpful. In my next post I will talk about Gate Mounting Systems.