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Safety for Children: A Homebuyer’s Guide to Kids’ Rooms and Play Areas

October 5, 2012

in Home Buying Guide | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

safe places for childrenChildren alter how families look at homes during the home buying process. A family with children has to consider extra bedrooms, extra bathrooms, and safe places for children to learn and play. Indoor and outdoor recreation should be fun and comfortable, while safety should always remain the highest priority.

Kids’ Rooms

Kids’ rooms should be large enough for children to grow in. A tiny room may work for a 6-year-old, but could be terribly cramped for a teenager. Kid’s rooms should include the following:

  • Room to grow
  • Accessibility
  • Storage space
  • A safe exit for emergencies

Families generally want kids’ rooms on the same level of the house as the master bedroom. While a teenager might accept, or even want, a basement bedroom, small children’s rooms should be close enough for you to access them quickly at night.

Consider the amenities you want in kids’ rooms. Bookcases, closet organizers, and other storage space can be a real asset. Some solutions can be added after the home is purchased, but a house with built-in storage can be a plus.

Safety is also a consideration: In case of fire or similar emergency, you’ll want to make sure that your children will be able to safely escape their bedrooms. Children’s Hospital Boston reports that “over half of children ages five and under who die from home fires are asleep at the time of the fire,” but also that “children in homes without working smoke alarms are at greater risk of fire-related death and injury in the event of a fire.” This means that you should consider several fire escape routes when looking at the bedroom configuration in your prospective home, but you should also carefully assess the number, location, and condition of smoke detectors in your home no matter where the children will sleep.

Family Rooms and Dens

A home with a family room and a separate, more formal living room will let you relax while the kids are watching shows or host guests while your kids enjoy a minefield of Legos® on the floor in the adjacent room. When the children grow older, the toys can be picked up and the family room can become a place for study, arts and crafts, or hanging out with friends. A den can become a home fitness center, a library, or a guest room when your children fly the coop.

Play Sets and Play Areas

Outdoor playsets and play areas can be real bonuses when families with children go house hunting, but always keep safety in mind. Playgrounds and play areas are only an advantage if they are safe areas for children. While your kids may be delighted by a ramshackle tree house, your first thought should be whether or not it’s safe.

Generally speaking, store-bought playsets are safer than DIY play areas slapped together by an inexperienced handyman. Having said that, some amateur-built jungle gyms are well thought-out, inventive, beautifully-constructed, and safe enough for children to use. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) publishes a broad variety of safety information on playground construction, materials, and components.

When building or buying a play structure, think about its placement in relation to your home and the street. Constant supervision is important whenever children play, so make sure the space is visible from where you plan to spend time. The National Program for Playground Safety also recommends watching out for age-inappropriate equipment, hard surfaces, poorly-maintained equipment, and protuberances where children can become trapped.

Swimming Pools

At first glance, a swimming pool seems like a great idea for families with children  – it sounds great to have pool parties or just cool off on a hot day. Take a step back, however, and consider swimming pool safety.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 350 children under the age of five drown every year in swimming pools – more than three times as many as drown in all other areas of the home (like bathtubs, hot tubs, landscape ponds, and other water containers). A swimming pool safety cover is essential for a backyard pool, but it isn’t enough. Many other precautions are recommended to make swimming pools safe places for children:

  • Constant parental supervision
  • Door alarms
  • Safety fences
  • Underwater motion detectors

Even all of these safety precautions don’t completely guarantee your child’s safety around swimming pools. Many parents decide the allure of a swimming pool isn’t worth the safety issues. Those parents who do purchase a home with a swimming pool must commit to enclosing the pool securely and remaining vigilant as long as they have children in the home.

Safety, Comfort and Growing Room

Family homes should be safe and comfortable. While children do need practical and fun spaces to relax, play, and grow, parents should also consider safety when looking for the place that their children will call home. If you’re shopping for a home for your young children, think ahead to what they’ll need when they’re in high school. If your family might grow, think about whether you need extra space now or whether you can plan for a future addition. Consider whether the pool, playground, or tree house you’re looking at is more likely to enrich your children’s lives or endanger them. When you look at potential homes with your kids in mind, you can choose a home that offers the promise of a safe and enjoyable childhood.

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