How to make your home kid-friendly

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The recent video that went viral about two-year-old twins Brock and Bowdy Shoff, who narrowly escaped grave injury when a cabinet they were climbing on fell on them, has highlighted the need for child-friendly furniture.

The fact, is not everyone is as lucky to dodge the bullet. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, one child dies every two weeks because of furniture tip-over.

Back in Malaysia, a journal issued by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) showed that furniture used at home is one of the main factors that contribute to home injuries involving toddlers and children between the ages of five and nine. However, many parents are still unaware of the dangers posed by furniture.

Children furniture manufacturer and online store business operator TOMATO KidZ director Catherine Liew have lined up a few things to think about when fitting out a home with its young occupants in mind.

(1) Beware of strangulation and entrapment hazards

Look for furniture with a simple and fuss-free design. Furniture with cords and strings may cause strangulation while gaps on a piece of furniture may become a “trap” instead. For example, the gaps on the guard rail of a kid’s bed need to meet safety requirements and must not be smaller than 7mm, or must be between 12mm and 25mm, or between 60mm and 75mm or bigger than 200mm. Furniture with gaps that do not meet those measurements are considered unsafe.

(2) Ensure all furniture are well-anchored

Ensure that your chests or cabinets are securely attached to the walls with anti-tip and anti-slip devices. A lot of deaths among three to five-year-olds have been caused by furniture falling on top of them.

In the US, free-standing clothing storage units, such as chests, door chests and dressers above 30 inches in height should have anti-tip devices installed.

(3) Cover sharp edges and corners

According to US safety products supplier SafetyED.org, furniture edge protectors are especially important for babies who are just learning to crawl as they are extremely curious, and often want to explore every inch of their homes, thus exposing them to risks of injury with sharp corners.

Furniture edge protectors also protect a child’s head if he or she happens to fall. They prevent the sharp edge or corner of a piece of furniture from catching a baby’s delicate head or skin, or causing damage to their eyes.

These protectors are very cheap, and they’re very easy to use and install. They can be found at most retail and department stores.

(4) Check the material used for furniture

Some materials used for furniture such as particle boards or chip boards and medium-density fibreboards (MDF) are harmful to children.

Particle boards and MDF contain formaldehyde which is released into the air. Exposure to formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory test animals.

Exposure to relatively high amounts of formaldehydes in medical and occupational settings has been linked to some types of cancer in humans, but the effect of exposure to small amounts is less clear.

As such, if particle boards and MDF are unavoidable, parents can check the safe formaldehyde levels such as the European E1 formaldehyde standard (E1) or the California Air Resources Board Phase 2 emission standard (CARB-P2).

Products with E1 formaldehyde standard has a formaldehyde emission limit of 0.12 mg per cubic metre, while CARB-P2 has a limit of 0.05 to 0.11 parts per million (ppm). Other grades such as CARB-P1 and E2 may have dangerously high levels of formaldehyde.

Parents should also look out for “Bisphenol A (BPA) Free” baby and children’s products. The US National Toxicology Program has some concern over BPA’s effects on the brain, behaviour, and prostate gland in foetuses, infants and children at current exposure levels.

(5) Have a comprehensive home design plan

(i) First, identify the space you have and how much space needs to be catered for the kids. Parents should try to create a personal space for their kids and the planning should be based on their age, with allocations for a study area, play area and others.

(ii) The furniture for children should feature easy-to-clean and water-resistant surfaces.

(iii) Meanwhile, décor items should be placed beyond the child’s reach until the child grows older and is more mindful.

(iv) Hide-away designs are also good options as they will help store your belongings, especially the children’s toys, clothes and shoes, neatly hidden away.

(v) Getting your kids involved in the interior decoration of your home might be a good idea as this will help them appreciate it more.

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News Source:(Shawn Ng)

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