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Easy ways to make sure house is safe for little ones

The Baltimore Sun

Common items found around the house can help you evaluate whether your home is safe for children. Consumer Reports' publication ShopSmart recommends gathering these things for a do-it-yourself home-safety tool kit:

* Ruler: Use it to make sure steps are the same height and to check spaces between crib slats and deck rails so a child's head can't get stuck. Crib slats should be no more than 2 1/2 inches apart; deck rails should be no more than 4 inches apart.

* Digital thermometer: Put it under running hot water to test your tub and tap water. If the temperature is higher than 120 degrees, turn down the thermostat on the water heater.

* Toilet-paper tube: If an item can fit through the tube, it's a choking hazard for a child younger than 3. Test toys and small items that are accessible to small children who live in or frequently visit your home.

* Block of wood: Place a scrap of 2-by-4 lumber under your garage door to make sure the electric opener will reverse itself in case a child is in harm's way.

* Lead test kit: It's a quick way to check toys or paint that you suspect might be tainted.

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