Buying Guide to Safety Gates


5 Things to Know Before You Buy

Once little tykes are mobile, keeping them contained becomes top priority. Safety gates prevent young children from reaching potentially dangerous situations in the home, such as stairways and slippery floors.

There are so many ways a roaming toddler can find trouble. Fortunately, there are also as many varieties of safety gates on the market, which means you can block off just about any space possible. Select the ideal safety gates for your home by keeping in mind their various features and capabilities.

Fact #1: Types

There are two main types of safety gates:

*Permanent or hardware gates are the most secure type of safety gate available. Mounted directly into door frames or onto walls, permanent gates are the only type of gate that you should install at the top of stairs and to separate rooms that are located on different levels. For safety mount permanent gates so that they swing away from stairs.

*Pressure-mounted gates press on to opposite walls and require no hardware to install. Such gates expand to the size of the opening that you wish to barricade. They are appropriate for sectioning off same-level rooms and areas of the home and should never be used at the top of stairs. The portability of pressure-mounted gates makes them good for moving about the house and for traveling.

Fact #2: Dimensions

When it comes to width and height, safety gates come in a wide variety of sizes. Standard-sized gates generally range from 29 to 45 inches wide and 30 inches tall. Extra wide gates also exist and are appropriate for areas of the home that cover an especially wide span. You'll find as wide as 58 inches, with 4- to 12-inch extension kits to safely blockade an even wider opening.

There are also especially high gates available, which are useful for tall children and those who are able to climb over standard-sized gates (and they will all try!) Such safety gates range from 38 to 41 inches tall.

There are also gates for unusually shaped areas, such as around fireplace hearths and where opposing walls don't line up evenly.

Fact #3: Style

Considering that the safety gate will be a permanent part of your home decor for a couple of years or so, it's good to know there are a wide variety of styles from which to choose. You'll find everything from plastic gates in various colors, including white, beige, brown and black, to wood gates, aluminum and steel gates, mesh models and contemporary-style metal gates.

Fact #4: Ease of Use

Since it's entirely possible you'll have your hands full when making your way through the safety gate, consider choosing a hands-free or auto-close gate. For high traffic areas, it's also a good idea to get a gate that swings in and out.

Fact #5: Extra Safety Precautions

Avoid little hands and feet from getting stuck in the safety gate by choosing a gate with slats that are no wider than 2? inches apart. Also stay away from gates that have horizontal pieces between the top and bottom rails, as this gives the child a ladder for climbing. If you choose a gate with mesh, make certain it has fine screening.

And always remember that safety gates are only protective barriers for use when adults are present and are never a substitute for supervision.