Many individuals with Autism and other special needs might not be aware of the numerous potential dangers that exist in our homes. That is why we, as parents of kids with special needs, often need to be extra vigilant when it comes to household safety, remembering that “child-proofing” our homes is sometimes necessary for our adult offspring as well as our young children. Here are 20 tips that can help you keep your child or someone else with special needs safe while he or she is in your home.
1. Hidden gas shut-off valves
You never know when your child might start playing with the controls on your gas stove, or attempt cooking on his or her own. It is for this reason that I had a licensed gas fitter install a shut-off valve in the kitchen cupboard right beside my stove. We are always careful to not let Michael see us reaching for it. When it’s in the off position, we can rest assured knowing that our gas burners cannot be ignited, nor can toxic gas vapors unknowingly be released into our house.
2. Appliances with special safety features
More and more appliances manufacturers are featuring safety features in their products like hidden on and off switch panels and buttons that need to not only be pressed, but held in order to make them operational. When appliance shopping, ask your salesperson about special lock-outs and and other safety features that may exist or research them yourself online. Some brands and models are better than others when it comes to safety.
3. Key locks on medicine cabinets
When taken incorrectly, medicine can kill. We have keyed locks on all of our medicine cabinets and the keys are carefully hidden away.
4. Toxic houseplants
While there are many common houseplants that are dangerous if ingested by pets, some are poisonous to humans as well. Find out what they are and make sure that they are not in your home if your child shows any interest in or tendency to eat non-edible items like plants. One helpful resource on toxic plants has been made available online by the New York Botanical Garden.
5. Radiator covers
We had Michael’s room entirely ‘child-proofed’ – or so we thought – until one night when I went to check on in him when he was fast asleep and discovered blood trickling down his arm. Beside him was the metal radiator cover whose sharp metal blade had cut him after he decided to take it into bed with him. Now, all metal covers like this have either been screwed down or replaced by less dangerous wooden ones.
By the way, if your child discovers that these air vent covers are removable, he may be tempted to remove them and drop things down the vents which can at best, be a nuisance. This might be another reason for you consider the option of screwing these covers down.
6. Electrical outlets
Jamming metal objects into electrical outlets can result in severe injury or even death. There are many different devices on the market to prevent this from happening or at least slow down access to these dangerous temptations.