Most parents are well aware that they need to place child-proof locks on cabinets that contain harmful chemicals, but they may overlook the dangers posed by front and back doors. Small children, children with mental disabilities, or even a sleepwalking child can wander out of the house. Choosing locking mechanisms that prevent this can avert a tragedy. The following ideas can help.
Tip #1: Install Flip Locks
Flip locks are simple and they only create two small holes, which means you can likely use them in a rental home with minimal repercussions. These locks are mounted to the door frame and they have a small metal flap that is flipped over the closed door, preventing it from opening. Simply make sure the flip lock is installed high enough so your child can't reach it. These locks work best on younger children, since an older child can either reach it or figure out how to stand on something to reach the lock.
Tip #2: Use Door Knob Covers
These covers only work well with very young children, but they require no changes to the door and no holes, so they may be a good choice in a rental. The cover slips over the door knob and requires the strength of an adult to squeeze it tightly to open the door.
Tip #3: Consider a Keyed Dead Bolt
Dead bolts are great for general safety, and one with a key can effectively keep a child from opening the door. Simply remove the key when the door is locked. If you are worried about losing the key, consider hanging it somewhere that can't be reached or accessed by the child, but that is close enough so you can grab it quickly when needed.
Tip #4: Lock Up the Patio
Sliding patio doors create a separate challenge. A peg lock in the top rail can be a good option since it can't be reached by younger children. These locks require a hole in the track, where a peg is inserted and turned in such a way so that it locks into place. You can also get bottom track drop-in locks that require a key to be locked and unlocked, which may be a better choice if you have an older child that wanders.
Contact a locksmith from a company like LI Locksmiths Inc to explore your options on child-proofing your doors. They can show you the products available and help you pick out which ones will work best for your family.