Stairs, sharp-cornered furniture, electrical outlets, top-heavy dressers and cabinets, prescription medication, chemical-laced cleaning fluids, knives, stove burners, glass breakables — these are a few of the more common "kid dangers" lurking inside a typical home. Add home technology into the mix and the list expands with potential hazards that we rarely, if ever, stop to think about.
If you have toddlers or young children running around your home — and, yes, visiting relatives, grandkids, and neighbors count — it's time for a home safety assessment. (Don't worry, it will only take a few minutes.) All you have to do is walk room to room and keep an eye out for items and situations that might put a small child at risk of injury.
Use this handy checklist to help you spot technology-related dangers.
1. Make sure freestanding TVs are secure and stable to prevent them from tipping over.
This is especially important in the case of old, top-heavy tube models that are often relegated to secondary status in the basement or a spare room. In some cases, the cabinet that supports a TV is more of a hazard than the TV itself, especially if it has drawers, which can be used as a make-shift ladder by curious climbers.
Anchoring straps for securing a TV to the wall or furniture are available at amazon.com, and retailers such as Walmart and Babies "R" Us. Even better: Mount the TV to the wall.
2. Ditto for speakers — especially bulky "bookshelf" models.
Even compact speakers can be surprisingly heavy, so make sure they're not perched precariously in a spot that kids can get to. And make sure the wires running to the back of the speaker are concealed or secured. If a kid gets a hold of the wire and tugs, the speaker could topple on his or her head, causing a concussion or worse.
3. Keep remote controls out of the reach of young children.
This might be a tall order given how common it is to find remotes laying around in the average home, but the small AA, AAA and nickel-sized lithium-ion batteries used in remote controls (and many other devices) can present a choking hazard or, in the case of nickel-size lithium-ion batteries, become lodged in the throat and cause irreversible tissue damage.
Unless the battery compartment of a remote is secured with a screw (most aren't), you'll want to hide it away from prying little hands. As you've probably discovered, the typical snap-in-place battery cover is often easy to remove and, worse, will literally pop off if the remote is dropped on a hard surface.
For more on battery-related hazards, check out this tip sheet.
4. Keep power cords and other cabling behind AV equipment secure.
Use tie-wraps/zip ties and wire looms (available at hardware/home improvement stores) to keep wires tightly tethered to prevent tripping and other hazards. Same goes for wires running around or across a room.
Inexpensive "cable raceways" can be used to contain and conceal cables that might otherwise run along the floor or molding.
5. Secure AV cabinet doors.
Use child-proof latches to keep the little ones away from your stack of gear. Doing so will prevent the risk of electrical shock, component tip-overs, and even burns in the case of big power amplifiers that can get very hot - especially if they're not properly ventilated (something else to keep in mind).
To learn more about technology-related safety, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.