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SAFE CRACKING

So you slapped some plastic covers onto your electric outlets, then congratulated yourself for childproofing your home. Right? Well, think again, pal. Making a house safe for crawling, inquisitive, orally fixated rugsters is no fifty-cent, two-minute proposition. To do the job correctly, you'll need a crane, a jackhammer, some explosives, several large wheelbarrows, a U-Haul truck, a contractor's license, about $50,000, and this handy room-by-room list of commonly overlooked household perils.

Kitchen

* Tablecloths can be grabbed and pulled off--pot roast, carving knives and all. Nail them suckers down.

* The sharp corners of a table can cause serious injury. And so can those crudely hammered nails that are now sticking out of the table. Get rid of it.

* Chairs are an open invitation for youngsters to climb and swan-dive. Get rid of them, too. Or, at the very least, install a pool in your kitchen and hire a trained, certified lifeguard to live in your breakfast nook.

* Linoleum and tile floors can be slippery. Whatever you've got, rip it out.

* Now look what you've done! What's gonna happen when your kid trips and falls on that bare concrete? He's gonna get a brain full of skull splinters, that's what. Rubble-ize it.

* Countless children have suffocated after closing themselves inside a refrigerator. Remove the door.

* Refrigerators without doors are a breeding ground for deadly salmonella bacteria. Plus, you now have no place to store your eggs and salad dressings. Dump the fridge.

* Avoid accidental burns by removing the dials and handles from your kitchen range (caution: first, check to see if child is in oven). Now that the range is useless, you know what to do.

* Keep sharp utensils, cleaning fluids and exterminating supplies high out of reach. On your roof, for example. And hide the ladder.

* Never give a child a knife and ask him to dig your English muffin out of the toaster unless he's wearing rubber gloves and a dry diaper.

Living Room and Bedrooms

* Make sure window screens are secure so a child cannot fall out. If you have no screen, station a family member below the window with a large catcher's mitt and tell him or her to stay put.

* Electric fans are baby-finger Cuisinarts, and electric heaters are baby-finger barbecues. Eighty-six 'em.

* Nothing tempts an infant's taste buds quite like highly toxic chips of lead paint. Your walls could be slathered with the stuff. Knock 'em out.

* Most toddlers quickly learn to open doors. Tie a small bell on every door so you're always aware of the tots' comings and goings.

* Toddlers are attracted to the sound of small bells and like to eat them. Get rid of the bells and barricade the doors.

* Pillows, stuffed animals, large toys, recliners, coffee tables, sofas, hassocks, television sets, bookshelves and virtually all other furniture can be used as "steppingstones" to death. Load the U-Haul.

Bathroom

* Falling toilet seats and lids can break little fingers and crack little noggins. Trash 'em.

* My god! Don't you know that children can drown in an open toilet? Get that porcelain death trap outta here! And while you're at it, rip out the bathtub. When your kids are dirty, tell them to take a swim in the kitchen.

* Babies don't know the difference between a sandbox and a litter box. Neither does a cat. Call the SPCA and your local toxic-waste disposal unit.

* Even "childproof" medicine bottles can be opened by children. Purchase only the adult-proof kind, and rid your home of hacksaws, blasting caps and ball-peen hammers.

* Come to think of it, there's nothing in a bathroom that isn't deadly: perfumes, colognes, cosmetics, shampoo, scalding-hot water and soap-on-a-rope (especially dangerous to suicidal youngsters who hate baths). Seal off the whole damned room and, just to be supersafe, surround it with barbed wire and land mines.

Other

Beware these common, everyday household killers: balloons, grapes, coins, seeds, house plants, semiautomatic weapons, hot dogs, small toys, cyanide capsules, beans, screws, welding equipment, pins, buttons, hot tap water, raw carrots, tacks, surface-to-air missiles and parents who plan on properly childproofing their homes tomorrow, provided they're not too busy with more important things.

Making a house safe for crawling, inquisitive, orally fixated rugsters is no fifty-cent, two-minute proposition. Never give a child a knife and ask him to dig your English muffin out of the toaster unless he's wearing rubber gloves and a dry diaper.

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Michael Burkett