We talked to Carolyn Ziegler, international child safety expert and advocate, as well as co-founder of iconic child safety brand Dreambaby®, and asked her to give us some important advice on how to make your garage and driveway safer for your children.
“People use their garages not just as a place to park their vehicles but also as a workshop and for storage – all these uses pose a danger to small children,” says Carolyn. “Children can be run over by a reversing car, they can be poisoned by stored items such as garden fertilizers and hurt by work tools such as hammers and saws. Even screws pose a danger as they can be a choking hazard. The most important thing you can do is secure the entrance to your garage. Keep doors locked and install a child safety gate as an additional measure,” says Carolyn.
There are many gates to choose from in the Dreambaby® line-up including the very affordable pressure-mounted Dreambaby® Chelsea Auto-Close Security Gate (F160W). It’s easy to install – no tools required.
“It’s vital to declutter your garage,” says Carolyn. “I know for many the garage is primarily about storage but clutter can pose risks so you need to think about safe storage.” “Poisons and sharps MUST be stored out of reach in a locked cabinet.” Carolyn also advises you to sort out all gardening tools and store them in a cupboard that has been secured. “Also, if you store your stroller in your garage, hang it up out of the way using a pram hanger (try the Dreambaby® StrollAway pram hanger (#256). That way little fingers won’t be trapped by accident.”
Generally, all cupboards and drawers throughout the garage and home must be secured with a lock. If they don’t have a lock and key, invest in locks and latches. We have developed a number of different items to help do just that. I would also advise you to use a variety of locks and latches. Children learn by watching so if you use a number of locks with different locking mechanisms you keep them on their toes,” says Carolyn. “
If you want to know more, Carolyn has recorded a short podcast full of useful advice on how to childproof the garage.
“Reversing your car in and out of your garage is always dangerous when you have small children about. On average, every year, 7 children aged 0-14 years are killed and 60 are seriously injured due to driveway run over incidents in Australia. Most driveway run overs occur in the driveway of the child’s own home, or in a friend or relative’s driveway. The driver is usually a parent, relative or family friend,” says Carolyn.
“In 85% of cases, the driver does not know that a child is close to the vehicle; they think they are being looked after elsewhere. Toddlers can escape in a blink of an eye with tragic consequences as we know from the many child accident stats.”
Dreambaby® is currently working with the Georgina Josephine Foundation which was set up in part to prevent and reduce unintentional injury or death of children caused by low-speed vehicle run over accidents. The foundation was established in 2011, after Peter and Emma Cockburn tragically lost their baby daughter Georgina, at 15 months old. Peter, a builder, came home from work and was reversing his builder’s trailer into the garage of the family home when tragedy struck.
Emma Cockburn of the Georgina Josephine Foundation advises on the usefulness of rear vision cameras and autonomous reverse braking which can help. “We are working hard towards having this technology as standard features in all vehicles,” said Emma. Peter also advises looking carefully at housing and driveway design to separate living spaces and play areas of houses and yards from driveways and garages.