The chance to spend more time with your family is one of the best parts of working from home. Before you let your little ones into your workspace, though, it is important to learn how to childproof a home office. There are many parts of a home office that can be dangerous to babies or young children if they are left unsupervised for even a few minutes. By childproofing, you will create an office environment for fun and learning, not danger.
Guard Against Electrical Hazards
Electrical cords are more than just tripping hazards. They carry enough voltage to severely burn or even kill a child who bites one or cuts one open. A child could also accidentally use a cord to bring heavy office equipment toppling down onto them, causing injury or worse.
To prevent this from happening, it is important to secure loose cords with cable ties. Also, use cable clips or electrical tape to affix the cords to the floor around the edge of the room, then cover them with cable trunking.
Electrical outlets are an even greater shock hazard and can be dangerous to children. For these, skip the plastic inserts, which are easy for curious little fingers to pry out. Instead, contact your licensed electrician to install tamper resistant outlets. For power strips, use safety covers to guard against electrical hazards.
Secure the Furniture and Equipment
Kids love to climb, but if your child accidentally pulls a filing cabinet over, the consequences could be tragic. In the US, every other week, a child dies from being crushed by tipped furniture. When you childproof a home office, anchoring bookshelves, filing cabinets, and similar furniture is an important step. Use at least two furniture restraints, or furniture anchors, to secure each item to the wall studs. If you have heavy books, install a strap across the front of the shelf to hold the books in place.
It is a good idea to also avoid piling books or files on top of tall furniture. A child can easily shake the furniture hard enough to bring the pile down. Remove stools, boxes, and other items a child could use to climb up onto taller furniture. Cover any sharp furniture corners or edges with PVC-free corner guards large enough not to pose a choking hazard.
Install a monitor mount to secure your computer monitor to your desk. Use safety straps, often called earthquake straps, to secure your hard drive, printer, scanner, and other equipment. Pay special attention to the shredder, which can leave a child permanently disabled. Place it off the floor or lock it in a case or closet, and keep it unplugged until you need it. To protect your equipment from spills and sticky fingers, use waterproof covers.
Remove Little Hazards
When you childproof a home office, the little things matter, too. The pens, paper clips, staples, and rubber bands on your desk can look tempting to a toddler who puts everything in their mouth. It takes just a moment for a child to choke on one of these small items.
Scissors can cause serious injury to a child who grabs them off your desk. Colorful ink cartridges also look fun to play with. If your child pries one open, though, they can have your office looking like an abstract painting in seconds.
To protect both your child and your work, keep small items like these in your desk so they are out of sight.
Establishing clear rules for behavior in the office can also help, but kids are curious and there’s no 100-percent effective way to childproof a home office. Never leave your child in your office unattended. To keep little ones out when you’re away, install an exterior quality lock on your office door.