7 Steps to a Kid-Proofed House

Temporarily protect your home from pint-sized guests.

Whether or not the weather outside is frightful, having a lot of young guests in your home during the holidays may seem less than delightful. Fear not. There are simple ways to temporarily protect your home from naturally curious kids while keeping the children safe, too.

  1. Encourage parents to be watchful. According to Tammy Gold, a licensed psychotherapist and certified parent coach, and the owner of Gold Parent Coaching, it’s up to parents to model the right behavior. “Toddlers, especially, learn by sensory exploration like feeling, touching, tasting—they’re going to do it,” says Gold, who has three little girls of her own. “As a parent, I know it’s my job to be vigilant about protecting my kids and my host’s home.”
  2. Ask parents to bring toys for their kids. Amusements from coloring books to DVDs can keep kids occupied, especially during parties too long for short attention spans.
  3. Create a safe place for kids to play. If you don’t already have a kid-friendly playroom or your guests’ children are small, ask parents to bring portable playpens or high chairs where children can be secured during busy times and meal preparation. “Kids should not be in the kitchen while cooking is going on,” says Gold.
  4. Remove hazards. Put away obviously dangerous items like fireplace pokers. Stow chemicals and medicines out of reach, and secure cabinet doors with rubber bands, suggests Gold. Lock doors to the outside or rooms you want off-limits, and put up baby gates to keep toddlers off the stairs. Gold also recommends warning guests of danger zones like steep stairways.
  5. Protect your assets. Hide heirlooms or other items you’d be heartbroken to lose. Apply stain- and moisture-resistant spray to furnishings. Put away markers or other items kids could use on walls or furniture that can’t be easily cleaned.
  6. Take care of your pets. Unless your pets are familiar with your guests or are used to lots of people, either close them up or keep a close eye. A pet can easily injure a small child just by being playful—and vice versa.
  7. Set ground rules. If your guests’ kids are old enough, tell them the rules yourself. Otherwise, politely tell the parents what you expect and how you hope they’ll keep an eye on their kids.

Protect Yourself If a serious accident happens on your property, a Personal Umbrella Liability policy can provide the extra coverage you may need. Talk to your agent about a policy that’s right for you.