Childproofing the Home Office
The home office is a room in which you may need to spend a good deal of time—it is often the site of valuable electronics, important files, resources such as books and references, and heavy pieces of furniture. Sometimes, a home office can be kept off limits, but if you need, for example, to be able to supervise your child(ren) and work at the same time, here’s how to make it safe.
Designated Child Area
Either a playpen or play yard, or just a special section of the home office can be a designated play area for your child. Many children of two and older appreciate having their own desk, where they can engage in imitative play.
Furniture and Windows
The home office may, by necessity, boast some tall, heavy furniture. Bookcases—built-in, free-standing, and wall-mounted—and storage cabinets are often found. To prevent furniture from falling, it can be anchored to studs in the wall.
Furniture with glass tops should be refurbished with Plexiglas. Anything with sharp corners can either be removed, or corner and edge bumpers can be installed. These are protective coverings that help prevent a child from being injured from falls against sharp edge of furniture, such as desks or cabinets.
Avoid placing furniture in close proximity to windows. Not only could the baby break the glass or fall, but any cords or draperies or blinds could get tangled around the child, and very long items could cause a tripping hazard. Any cords or draperies in the Home Office should be shortened (products called cord shorteners are available) and kept out of reach. Window guards and safety nets are additional devices that help minimize the danger of a child falling from a window.
- Keep all pointed or potentially dangerous objects in drawers with safety latches. This includes staples, the stapler, the tape dispenser, scissors, letter opener, paper clips, tacks, etc.
- The same goes for poisonous office supplies like markers, adhesives, toner cartridges, and correction fluid.
- Substitute other lighting for floor lamps.
- House plants should also be moved out of reach, and any that are poisonous should be moved to an area the child cannot access. Even placing a plant in a hanging basket cannot prevent it from dropping a leaf or a petal when you’re not looking and the baby is.
Both to prevent splinters and to lessen the chance of slips, carpet or non-skid rugs are useful. If the floor covering’s own backing is not sufficient to keep it in place, double-sided carpet tape or tacking can help ensure safe walking.
Keep any electronics equipment, such as a computer, printer, scanner, fax machine, copier, etc., well back on the desk or table. You may wish to store items like a paper shredder in a locked closet.
Outlets and Electrical Cords
Electrical outlet safety covers and plates restrict access to electrical outlets, thus reducing the risk of electrocution. They should be installed firmly so that a child cannot remove them and be large enough not to pose a choking hazard. Surge protectors and power strips can also be provided with covers.
Electrical cords should be collected in a cord bundler and cord shorteners should also be used as appropriate. This will both prevent the baby from teething on the cord and from tugging on it and inadvertently pulling the object at the other end down on him- or herself. To prevent tripping hazards, as well as keep cords inaccessible, you may wish to tape cords down.
A covered waste container is a good idea, as it, like the supply area, may contain staples, paper clips, and other small items that constitute a choking danger or are otherwise dangerous.
Written by Mary Elizabeth
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