One couple’s tragic loss yields a baby-proofing program called Charlie’s House

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Charlie’s House. // Photo by Aubrie Lawrence

Baby-proofing a house probably seems easy, right? You put a few child-proof locks on the cabinets and make sure dangerous chemicals are out of reach and boom, you’re done. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, which is why in-home accidents are the leading cause of child morbidity and mortality. But Charlie’s House, the first child safety demonstration house in the nation, wants to change that by educating parents on how to make their home safe.

Charlie’s House (2425 Campbell St.) was started by Brett and Jenny Horn after their 2-year-old son, Charlie, was killed when he attempted to climb a dresser in 2007.

Not wanting any other parent to go through the loss they experienced, the couple opened a home decked out in the latest baby-proofing technology, to show people how to reduce in-home accidents.

In November 2020, they did a soft opening to test-run the tours and get feedback from parents and medical personnel. Then on May 6 of 2021—the day Charlie would have turned 16—the home was officially opened.

Throughout the 45 minute tour of the home, you’re taken through every potential danger that faces your infant or toddler. From rolling off a changing table to drowning in an inch of water in the family pet’s water dish, it’s all covered and parents are taught how to prevent in-home accidents.

“It’s not just things imagined up,” Executive Director Stuart Hoffman says. “This stuff actually happens. We’re trying to bring awareness to it.”

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Bathroom safety demonstration room. // Photo by Aubrie Lawrence

Taking a tour of the house, you can see just how many things a parent needs to do to ensure their child’s well-being. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. But Stuart says that parents don’t need to learn everything at once during their tour, they just have to get an idea of how they can protect their child.

Along with doing individual tours of the home, Charlie’s House also provides courses—such as babysitting and firework safety—to the community.

Charlie’s House believes in providing in-home protection to everyone, regardless of where you live or how much money you have, which is why it doesn’t just offer information, it also offers resources. At the end of the tour, parents are able to pick up the baby-proofing supplies shown during the tour free of charge and grab brochures listing everything that needs to be child-proofed at the resource center. Stuart says that even if the tool might not be exactly what will work in every home, the resources provided will give parents a good stepping-off point to find an alternative that works for them.

Tours of Charlie’s House are available Monday through Friday. They can also be specially scheduled for after-hours and weekend visits for people who are unavailable during regular business hours. To schedule a tour call (913) 375-7123 or visit charlieshouse.org.

Categories: Culture