Technology draws children like moth to a flame. Kids just cannot resist electronics! Bright lights, mechanical sounds, and many buttons make a home theater system a magnet for a toddler’s attentions. Unfortunately, their interest can lead to action and may systems have been destroyed by a curious child or one who just felt a DVD player was a great place to store a peanut butter sandwich. Just as it is important to childproof every other area of you home, it is also essential to childproof your home theater, because the potential damage your child can do to your equipment, and, more importantly the potential danger your equipment poses to your child, is significant.
Approach your home theater from a child‘s perspective. Seriously. Get down on your hands and knees to take a look. See what you can access and what your child can see and reach. Those areas are the places that need to be childproofed first. You probably know your child well enough to be able to predict what things he or she will find interesting. It is best not to limit your childproofing job to only these things, because, as children grow and develop, their interests change. It is best to assume anything and everything will interest him, and therefore, just about anything can constitute something of a threat.
Of course, the best method of childproofing is to place your child in a playpen. However, by the age of about one, most children are able to crawl out of an average-sized playpen, so you will have to deal with actually protecting your equipment. You could, perhaps, invest in taller walls for the playpen, but you child might feel confined, and this will only delay the inevitable. Although your child may feel comfortable sitting in the playpen while watching his or her favorite program, eventually they will want to explore what makes Barney pop up on the screen.
To protect your equipment, you may want to purchase a large screen to place one foot in front of your home theater. The problem with this idea is that it may obstruct the view or at least interfere with your viewing pleasure. You may want to invest in a very large piece of plexiglass to fit tightly over the entire unit. Another option is to make your home theater literally on the "high end" and place your panel set on the upper part of your wall at an angle. You can install high shelves for your VCR and DVD player, and install your speakers on the wall. The problem with this idea is that you will have to climb on chairs and ladders to give your equipment the proper maintenance. However, the peace of mind knowing that your equipment is far away from your child might be well worth it.
You can purchase a wooden home entertainment armoire that opens and closes. You might want to put a lock on the handle of the armoire to ensure that your child cannot get to your equipment when you are not around. This is a very secure way of storing your home theater, but you may not want to keep your equipment under lock and key all the time, and as soon as the cabinet is opened, your child’s curiosity might be aroused.
You can purchase clear, plastic protectors that prevent you child from pressing buttons on your VCR or DVD player, but will still enable you to access through remote control. You can also find covers for you remote control, lest you child think that it is a fun toy. Another good idea is to place a protector on your disk drive to prevent your child from sticking his or her fingers or other objects inside. These are also plastic, and they close the unit off completely to prevent inappropriate access.
With all of the power that you will need for your home theater, exposed outlets are, of course, a major problem for children. Make sure that there are no open outlets and that they are plugged up with plastic plugs, if necessary. For children who already know how to plug and unplug from circuits, purchase a snap-on and off plastic power strip protector. It is impossible for a child to stick his or her fingers inside one of these covers, but at the same time, there is space to allow wires to feed through.
Regardless of what exact methods you choose, you really must take steps to childproof your home theater system if you have a youngster afoot. The risk to both your home theater investment and the child are simply too great to ignore
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