Expert illustrated tips on childproofing doors, using plastic door sleeves, door alarms, special locks and latches, and more.

When using doors, be careful, because children often “shadow” their parents around the house. It’s easy for them to get caught or for their little fingers to get pinched in closing doors, particularly bi-fold doors or those with multiple sets of hinges.

Simple locks such as these can keep small kids out of unsafe areas. Always place locks within reach of older kids in case of emergency.

To close a door automatically (an important consideration for doors that lead to potentially dangerous areas), you can mount a pneumatic or hydraulic automatic door-closer to ensure gentle closing.

Or, you can replace one or more of the hinges with spring-loaded, self-closing ones. Mount one, then test the door. If necessary, add another—but be sure the door doesn’t slam shut, which can create its own dangerous situation.

Replace any doorstops that might bounce a quickly opened door with flexible doorstops mounted high on the door.

If your home has any swinging doors, such as between the dining room and kitchen, consider replacing them with a standard or pocket door.

Using Door Locks

To keep a door locked, install a safety chain, barrel bolt, pivot lock, or hook-and-eye that can’t be reached by small kids. See typical types of locking hardware at right.

Plastic door sleeve requires a sturdy grip to turn the knob.

Doorknob Sleeves

To keep children from turning doorknobs, fit with special plastic sleeves, as shown at left. These are very inexpensive. To operate a doorknob, you need to squeeze the sleeve strongly enough to grip and turn the knob. If you have a weak grip, don’t fit your doors with these.

Alarms for Doors & Windows

To alert you that an important door or window has been opened (a door that goes to the pool, for example), you can hang a small bell with a loud gong on the door or, better still, buy an electronic alarm that sounds when the door is opened or closed. Beware of too loud an alarm that could hurt your child’s hearing and cause a scare. Several types of door alarms are available:[GARD align=”right”]

• A doorknob alarm that activates when the doorknob is touched

• A magnetic-contact alarm that sounds a pleasant bong when the door it’s protecting is opened

• A plunger alarm that fits at the base of a sliding door’s track and sounds when the door is opened

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