Monday, May 9, 2011

Be Warned

            Many young families attempt construction projects around the home while the children are still confined to a crib.  This is a prudent idea, as most home improvements and repairs become virtually impossible once mobility strikes.  These projects are usually minor in nature: a coat of paint, a new window, or an upgraded bathroom.  (Some people also consider babyproofing a minor construction project.  I disagree.  Babyproofing generally requires a second mortgage and the assistance of licensed contractors.)  My wife and I are no different.  We planned to upgrade the walls in our son’s room from paneling (the most hideous wall covering ever invented) to sheet rock.  Upon removing the paneling, (with appropriate ceremonies to remove any evil influence remaining in the room from having such a diabolical wall covering present for so many years) we discovered that the walls had no insulation in them.  Imagine our surprise: in their haste to cover the walls with paneling, some previous owners had failed to put a layer of protection between -30° Minnesota winters and massive heating bills.  We quickly corrected this by stuffing our newly opened walls with fiberglass insulation.  As this was a minor project, we left our son’s crib in the room, allowing him to continue sleeping in a familiar spot.  Imagine our surprise one morning to discover that our basically immobile baby had managed to pull a strip of R13 insulation out of the wall cavity and into his crib.  Imagine our greater surprise to discover that he then began eating it.  (Veteran parents would, of course, not be surprised at all by this; the only thing that shocks them is when a child eats the actual meal it has been given.)  After digging a wad of insulation out of our son’s mouth, we rushed for the packaging to determine if this meal would compromise his health.  The writers of the insulation warning label obviously had no children.  The only warnings given were to the adults involved in the installation of the product.  Nothing whatsoever about accidental ingestion.  Come to think of it, very few commonly eaten products, such as pennies, marbles, and pages from library books, have appropriate warning labels.  My cereal box with the picture of flakes flying out of the bowl has a small label warning me that “cereal pieces do not fly without assistance” but fiberglass insulation is completely bereft of nutrition information.  It seems, however, that no harm has come of this.  Both my son’s walls and his digestive system are a little warmer on cold days.    

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