In the excitement and chaos of a brand-new renovation, family safety is of utmost concern. If you’re a parent, you know how especially important this is with young children.
But you can and must have a safe renovation, even if you’re also juggling toddlers and preschoolers in the upheaval.
In particular if your home is older, talk to your renovator about obvious toxic dangers: mould, lead-paint and asbestos, for instance. How much dust will there be, even without these toxic substances? What precautions will your renovator take to make sure your family has a temporary living space (in your home) that is sealed off from any of these dangers? Is this possible, or should you move out during the demolition process?
Once that’s done and you have a safe (if temporary) space for carrying on day-to-day life in your home, sit on the floor and take a long, hard look. What do you see? What would you see if you were a toddler?
Are there any loose pieces, or things that might look interesting to put in a mouth? Are there any tripping hazards? Gaps or small areas where a little person could get stuck? Are there any electrical hazards? Are falls possible?
This is the time to be almost obsessively tidy and to remove clutter frequently. Not only will it be safer. It will help to keep you sane, especially if your temporary area is small.
Even if the dust is contained, it will still exist. Have a damp cloth at the ready and wipe down surfaces more often than you normally would. If this is a warm-weather renovation, open windows where you can.
You have probably already thought of this, but use baby gates wherever you can (good for pets, too). Makes sure there’s nothing a toddler might like to climb. Keep your eyes open for anything that might cause splinters.
If you have a well-established, professional renovator, the worksite will be well protected and thoroughly cleaned up at the end of each day. If your renovator carries the RenoMark™ logo, you can be assured that this is part of his or her mandate, to keep the worksite organized and safe at all times.
Your renovator will probably do this, but make sure any cords or cables are taped down securely.
Create a nice quiet spot ‒ a child-zone ‒ that is appealing and comfortable, with favourite toys and activities at the ready. Have you allowed for a nap area?
Take the children out for walks as often as you can. Visit friends in non-chaotic households. Tell yourself you will survive this.