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Home Office Safety


Home OfficeMy, how the work world has changed. With the ever-increasing demands of the workplace, more and more people are bringing work home with them to try to stay on top of things. In addition, the increasing availability of high-speed internet access and remote access to computer systems and files at work have made it possible to simulate your office desk in the comfort of your own home. The result has been that more and more households now have devoted a portion of the family living space to a home office. The space may be a spare bedroom, a portion of an unfinished basement or attic, or even an armoire or entertainment system cabinetry that has been adapted to house a computer, printer, fax, and other "office" machinery.

Although you may have gone to great lengths and expense in planning and setting up a way to work more conveniently at home, have you also taken into consideration the new set of safety issues you've brought into your living space? Even though you childproofed your home before you brought your new baby home from the hospital, have you carried the practice on through to your latest addition of a home office space? Your toddler or young child will most likely not be able to distinguish between the family living areas he or she is free to investigate and the new home office area that may or may not be off-limits. From pretty pictures on the computer screen, lots of buttons to push, and machines making funny noises—a home office is a fun new world to investigate!

Home OfficeWith a little time and effort, you can make your home office just as safe for your child as any other location in your home. The Home Safety Council recommends looking at the home office from a child's perspective and modifying your workspace accordingly. Some of the suggestions made by the HSC include:

  • Make the home office space off-limits to children unless an adult is present in the area with them. You may be able to secure the home office area with a locking door, which will make it more difficult for children to gain access.
  • For those who must have their infant or toddler close by while working, designate a specific area for your child and define the area with a blanket or playpen. Make sure the area is within your line of sight and away from any office equipment.
  • Install office equipment out of the reach of children. Keep peripherals away from desk and table edges so little hands do not easily reach them.
  • Smaller equipment like hole punches, staplers, letter openers, scissors, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, paper shredders, and paper cutters are all new and interesting to inquisitive young minds. Keep these items secure and out of the reach of young hands.
  • Bolt freestanding bookcases to the wall for additional support and to keep them secure if your child pulls on or attempts to climb on the shelving.
  • Close file cabinet drawers when they are not being used.
  • Keep your trashcan out of your child's reach. Be especially careful with items such as staples, thumbtacks, pushpins, and paperclips which are all small enough to pose a choking hazard. Your best bet is to empty your trash can every time you end your work day.
  • Keep power strips out of reach and use plastic outlet plugs to keep your child from inserting items into the receptacles (also a good option for wall outlets).
  • If you smoke in your home office, keep your ashtray emptied and matches, lighters, cigars, and cigarettes safely stored out of sight.

In addition:

  • Keep cords, wires, and plugs concealed. Such items left hanging from desks are an open invitation for a toddler to grab and pull which could result in injury to the child.
  • Fill your file cabinets from the bottom up. Anyone who has ever opened a full upper file cabinet drawer (with little or nothing in the lower cabinet drawers) quickly realizes the danger of a top-heavy drawer and how easily it can tip the entire cabinet over.
  • Keep your computer's floppy and CD drives secure. Kids love to stick things into slots and nothing will bring your workflow to a halt faster than finding an assortment of paper clips lodged in your slot-loading CD drive.
  • Keep emergency telephone numbers posted by the telephone for quick and easy access should an unfortunate incident occur.

So whether the area is specifically for paying home bills and managing your family's finances or takes the form of a more elaborate "home away from home" (in office terms), a home office provides a great way to organize and separate some of life's chores from your relaxing family life. With a little extra attention and monitoring through the early years, you can rest assured that your home office will be as safe for your child as any other part of your home.

Home Safety Council—

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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