A parent or carers first responsibility with cupboards and drawers is wherever possible to move dangerous items or substances out of toddlers reach. These include toxic or corrosive chemicals, medications, sharp utensils and glass objects.
Usually relocation is not totally viable therefore a combination of relocation and cupboard and drawer latches should be implemented. This will minimise the number of latches required.
A range of latches are readily available from retailers however you should ensure you choose a quality that will withstand not only the strength of a toddler but also a grown up who is unaware the latches are installed.
Before purchasing latches you should investigate the configuration of cabinets to ensure the latches will install without fouling cupboards or drawers. Obstacles most often encountered include:
- Cupboards with sinks or troughs that foul projecting latches
- Drawers without sufficient clearance to install latch
- Cupboards with flush doors that offer no opportunity to install the catch component of the latch.
In most instances these obstacles can be overcome by using a shortened latch or installing a ‘spacer’.
Magnetic latches can work well particularly where there is a confined space behind the cupboard door. A positive feature is the activation bar that can be used to disengage the latch when not in use.
Magnetic latches must be precision installed to function correctly and cupboard doors should be rigid with little or no lateral tolerance in the hinges.
Four screw holes and a larger clearance hole for the magnetic spindle must be drilled into the back face of your cupboard or drawer.
At least one spare magnet should be safely stored as they are prone to be misplaced particularly where older children are present.
As there is no visible sign of these latches they should be aligned with door furniture and fixed in the same position on every door so their position can be located quickly. Fossicking around for the latch can be frustrating.
Ensure others with access to the cupboards are aware of their existence as they can damage easily if forced.
Externally Fitted Latches
These are available in many configurations including loop locks, slide locks, Velcro latches etc. Very few of these latches however activate automatically when cupboards or drawers are closed. Their effectiveness is therefore determined by the vigilance of the user to ensure they are closed after use.
Poorer quality latches can be difficult to manipulate as the high tolerances can cause the plastic components to jam and fail.
External latches tend to be satisfactory for cupboards or drawers that are infrequently used, however they tend to be frustrating in high use areas such as kitchens.
Self Adhesive Latches
Landlords and Agents will often not permit ‘intrusive’ installations and home owners with high quality cabinetry often do not want their doors compromised with screw holes.
Commercially available latches that install with the aid of self adhesive pads have a tendency to fail through constant use. This is generally because the bearing area of the adhesive pad is not sufficient in size.
HomesafeKids has developed a method of applying latches using self adhesive technology. The bearing surface of the adhesive pad must be significant and the latch must be moulded from a soft compound plastic to absorb the forces applied when opening. An industrial strength foam core adhesive tape is required for adhesion and further shock absorption.
When the latch is no longer required it can be removed with no damage to the cabinetry.