Hot Topic Tuesday – Are Locked Doors Safer or Hazardous?

I never thought that whether one did or didn’t lock a toddler in their bedrooms would be a hot topic.  Whether a parent is for or against door locks, there is one thing that they all agree on: it’s a safety issue.  Fire safety comes up a lot in this topic: pro-locked door parents prefer it because they know where their kid will be in the event of an emergency and can get to the child in a hurry.  Opponents of door locks denounce it because the kid doesn’t have a fighting chance at getting out on his or her own.

Me?  I fall under the category of “YAY for locks!”

I did a lot of childproofing my house for toddler safety.  That childproofing includes cabinet latches in the kitchen and bathroom, outlet covers, wrapping our stone hearth on our fireplace with the crib bumper, a hardware mounted baby gate at the top of the stairs, and closing doors.  The simple fact is that there are so many things that I can’t protect him from… or protect from him… that steps need to be taken in our home.

When Norton was still in his crib, we used to let him sleep with his bedroom door open.  A light would be left on down the hall during the dark winter months, so he’d have a bit of light in his room.  In the summer, the sun is up so late that it’s not something we really worry about.  But once we switched his toddler crib into a toddler bed, leaving the door open was no longer a safe option.  I discovered this when I woke up in the middle of the night because I heard him wandering upstairs.  That was the first and last time we left his bedroom door open when it was time for him to sleep.

Upstairs, there are still things like televisions to manhandle and couches to fall off of (and whack his head).  There are things to climb and things to hit his head on.  There are things that he can destroy if not supervised that I’d like kept in one piece… including my kid.

Right now, all we need to do is close his bedroom door.  However, if and when the time comes that he decides to start opening his bedroom door (he does have door knobs figured out and can open the exterior door at his grandmother’s house), then that’s the time that we’ll look into childproofing the door knob in his bedroom.  We’ve already got sliding locks to go at the top of the exterior doors; I’m just waiting for the husband to install them.

I do have friends that have to actually install exterior door knobs on their toddlers’ doors because they have Houdini children that climb baby  gates and figure out “childproof” door knobs.  They will unashamedly use those knobs because they know that their kid will be safer in the bedroom than any other place in the home.  A time will probably come when I’m one of those parents.

As for the “getting out in a fire” scenario, Norton’s bedroom is on the ground level.  I can get into his room through an exterior window if I can’t get in any other way.  I don’t want him to be able to get himself out of the front door because it’s far more likely for him to wander off with dire consequences than it is for my house to burn.  It’s a simple risk analysis process: which is more likely to happen, and which is more likely to be fatal?

For the record: the door is only closed when Norton should be sleeping.  He’s not closed in his bedroom for timeouts or any sort of punishment because I don’t want him to associate his bedroom with being a not-so-awesome place to go.  Where do you fall on the closed/locked door debate?  Is it a safety helper or a safety hazard?

hot topic tuesdays Next week’s hot topic – Is Santa Claus promoting imagination and Christmas magic, or is it just lying to your kids?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

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