Child-Proofing at a Toddler-Level View
By Gina Dostler
Children will inevitably pinch a finger in a drawer or fall and knock a noggin on the floor. But every parent knows that to prevent injuries that require more than a kiss and a Band-Aid requires some home adjustments. Jeff George of The Original Safety for Toddlers has followed in his father’s footstep by dedicating himself to child safety in the home. He is experienced in the use of tested safety products that he installs in homes of concerned parents throughout Orange County.
Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: My dad started this company back in the ‘70s. He was a policeman for about 10 years. And throughout those years he accompanied paramedics on calls from panicked parents where a child suffered an injury in the home. While out from a work related disability, he got the idea to start a business that taught child safety in the home. He had watched my older sister Jennifer, a baby at the time, opening lower cabinets full of harmful chemicals as well as trying to crawl up the stairs. He realized the importance of making the necessary measures to safeguard the home for Jennifer and started to install safety devices throughout. Soon the neighbors were asking for his advise and his idea for the business took off. There really was no one out there, going to homes for child safety. He was a pioneer in the industry. By the time I was 21 years old, I was working side by side with him, helping him make homes safer for infants and toddlers.
Q: So where does child safety start?
A: With supervision first and foremost. But as any parent knows, a child requires a lot of watching. And even the most exemplary parent can lose sight of a little one and it only takes a few seconds for something to happen. The best start is a good defense against injury by providing a safe environment for your baby to live in. And it’s best to start before the child has fallen down the stairs, right? Or when the child discovers how to open cabinets, best to be well prepared before it happens. Though there is not such thing as child proofing, prevention goes a long way.
Q: What is the most impact in the home a parent can make for child safety?
A: Being aware of the surroundings and what the child sees. Get on all fours and crawl around the house, just like an 8-9 month old infant does. See what they see and observe everything that is in their reach. Babies go exploring and this is a good thing. You just need to find the potential hazards and every home is an entirely different situation. With years of experience I can walk into a home and know the places to look and items that pose the greatest risks.
Q: Can you name some of the places to be aware?
A: Sometimes it is the simplest of things that are overlooked. Take for instant a pet’s water bowl. Any free-standing water over 2 inches is a potential hazard for a crawling infant to drown. It seems silly, but why take a chance? Or placing a piece of furniture under a window where a child can climb up. If the window is open, a simple screen won’t hold the weight of the child if that child decides to explore further. What if that window is on the second story? A couple of children horsing around a bed placed by a window could have some severe consequences.
Q: Making a home safe could also include safety products. What are your thoughts?
A: Let’s just say about 80% of the products available to the local consumer are poorly made. There is a lot of junk on the market. For instance, the electrical plugs sold in nearly all child safety sections are no good. They’re a choking hazard. Instead put in covered lids that snap shut after the electrical cord is pulled out. Safety products need to be quality and tested. After all the years working together with my father, I’ve become well acquainted to what works and what is a waste of money. Since I guarantee all my work, I have to install the best.
Q: What are some steps for safety in the kitchen and bathroom?
A: Cords should not tangle from the kitchen countertops. Small appliances should be stored in an enclosed pantry or cabinet when not in use. When using the stove, use the back burners whenever possible and keep pot handles turned toward the inside of the stove. Keep the dishwasher door latched to avoid it crashing down on a child’s head. For the bathroom, when it is not in use, keep the door closed. Safety latches on medicine cabinets to keep prescription medicines out of reach and latches on toilets since it has more than two inches of free standing water. And when using the bathtub, keep all electrical appliances such as electrical razors, toothbrushes, hair blowers, curling irons, radios and especially electrical heaters unplugged and locked in a cabinet. Water and electricity are a fatal mix.
Q: You’re a one-man show now.
A: My father and I did a lot together. We held seminars in various hospitals, church’s and mom’s groups and trained others on starting a home-based child safety business besides just going out to homes. And after he passed away, I didn’t know if I could keep on going with the business. There was a big empty space without him. But I knew his passion for children’s safety had rubbed off on me years ago, so I decided to keep on helping others stay safe and happy. I go out and consult and install and meet a lot of appreciative parents. And that makes my day.
Owner & Operator