As any parent knows, keeping kids safe and out of harm’s way is an ongoing process. One preventative step that many caregivers take is to use safety gates to keep children in a safe area and away from dangers such as hot stoves, staircases, and potential hazards. Here are some tips for choosing the best child safety gate for your home.
This post was contributed by Carson Gaffney, the Program Associate at Kids In Danger (KID), a Chicago-based non-profit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving children’s product safety.
Does The Type of Child Safety Gate Matter?
In some cases the child safety gate itself can become the hazard. Safety gates, which are almost standard in any home with young children, can create a dangerous environment if installed incorrectly, or if the gate doesn’t meet current safety standards. According to 2010-2013 data from CPSC Nursery Product Reports, an average of one child per year dies from gate-related injuries. In 2015, 2,500 children received emergency room care as a result of gate-related injuries. Although gate-related injuries have decreased in recent years, recalls of safety gates do still occur. In 2016, IKEA recalled 80,000 units of their Patrull safety gate, after 55 incidents were reported worldwide. These gates were recalled because the locking mechanism sometimes opened unexpectedly, posing a fall hazard to children and other consumers.
Knowing which type of gate to install and installing the child safety gate correctly can save a child’s life.
Types Of Child Safety Gates:
- Hardware-mounted gates use hardware such as bolts to stay in place. The installation process for hardware-mounted gates is more time-consuming than for pressure-mounted gates, but the result is that they are much more secure. Hardware-mounted gates are the most secure to use in any area of the home, but they are the only type of gate that is appropriate for use at the top of staircases. Remember – even these gates aren’t foolproof.
- Pressure-mounted gates, which use pressure pads to stay in place between opposing walls, are the most common types of safety gates. They can be easily installed and moved to different locations and are best used in doorways. Pressure-mounted gates are not secure enough to be used on top of staircases. They can be pushed out of place and pose a fall hazard to children.
Additional Tips For Choosing The Best Child Safety Gate:
With any type of child safety gate, it’s also important to be aware of how the materials and design can cause damage. Consumer Reports recommends choosing a gate with a “straight top edge and closely spaced, rigid, vertical slats or a fine mesh screen.” Wide holes can be traps for small hands or serve as a foothold for climbing. Avoid using older, accordion-style gates with diamond-shaped openings that are large enough to entrap a child’s head. This style of safety gate poses a strangulation hazard.
Before buying or using a safety gate, check CPSC.gov to see whether the gate has been recalled. You can also check SaferProducts.gov for safety reports submitted by fellow consumers even before a product is recalled. Take the time to register your safety gate with the manufacturer. Product registration is the only way a manufacturer is required to alert consumers in the event of a recall. Follow child safety gate installation guidelines carefully to ensure safety gates are properly installed.
Follow these tips when choosing a child safety gate in order to create a safe and secure environment for the wee tots in your life.