This week's featured child safety advocate is no other than, the Executive Director of International Association for Child Safety, Inc. (IAFCS ), Colleen Driscoll.
The IAFCS is an organization of child safety professionals who are dedicated to increasing safety awareness and preventing childhood injuries. IAFCS members also assist families with selecting and installing reliable safety products. IAFCS members include professional childproofers, pool fence installers, manufacturers and other professionals who help parents and caregivers create safer home environments for children to explore and grow. Also, the IAFCS oversees a certification program for Certified Professional Childproofers.
There are many great organizations that research injury trends and provide important safety tips. However, the association's members have the wonderful opportunity of working directly with families in their homes. Their members provide education about home hazards but the members also understand safety products and installation challenges. They know what works and what doesn’t work. They know if the screws that come with a product are not the right size. They know how to solve challenges and install baby gates in real homes!
Their affiliates help prevent injuries and save lives. Colleen mentioned that it warms her heart to be able to help families, especially when they say, “I never realized that was a hazard.” Installing furniture restraints prevents tip-over injuries and properly installing baby gates help to prevent falls on the stairs.
We asked Colleen what is the biggest installation mistakes she sees parents make and how should they fix them. Here's a short list of them:
Mistake: Installing pressure-mounted baby gates at the top of the stairs.
Solution: They recommend families to only use hardware-mounted gates at the top of stairways, not pressure gates which children can dislodge.
Mistake: Using plastic drywall anchors for installing baby gates. They've often seen gates falling out of walls when these anchors were used.
Solution: Families will need to install the gate hardware into a stud or solid wood. Also, she said that there are products that allow gates to be installed at an angle in case the stud is not located exactly where you want it.
Mistake: Installing baby gates too high. Her members see many gates
installed above the baseboard molding because that is where the flat surface is located.
Solution: The space under the gate is usually too high – it needs to be less than three inches (but double check the gate’s instructions because some gates need to be installed at floor level).
She even uttered, "I focused on installation because I could list a bunch of overlooked hazards."
Colleen got into the childproofing business after her first child was born. When she was childproofing, she was frustrated in trying to find childproofing products that really worked. Later, she discovered that some products on the market were simply junk. Many of her clients shared their frustrations with her and often she would hear, “I spent hours installing the cabinet latches and my son went right over to the cabinet and opened it.” The parents were surprised when Colleen told them, “It’s not you, it’s the latch!”
Colleen recommends parents to start early because young children quickly find trouble. Parents can start in the nursery with anchoring furniture, selecting cordless blinds and ensuring your baby monitor/cords are at least three feet away from the crib. Anchor TVs and furniture throughout your house, not just in the nursery. "Talk to grandparents about childproofing their homes!" She added.
As what Colleen advised, be selective and picky when shopping for childproofing products since there is a wide-range in quality. Price can matter with many products and they recommend parents save frugal shopping for something that is not related to the safety of a child.
If you are interested in becoming a professional childproofer or need advice with childproofing your home, Colleen and her members are always glad to help.
"If you are not savvy with installation, there are professionals to help you. Some families install outlet covers and furniture cushions but call for help with baby gates or anchoring furniture." As her last words for us.