Tips for child safety
I was reminded yesterday how important it is to make our kids conscious of dangers to help keep them safe. Accidents happen. This is a fact. How many times has your child skinned his knee and fallen in the bathtub? How many times have you thought, “I was right there!”
Children are inherently curious and sometimes they can be oblivious to the inevitable dangers surrounding us.
Listed below are steps to ensure that your children are conscientious about their own safety in and around your home.
Safety Phone Numbers
Teach your child the emergency number of 911. Ask her to recite it frequently so that it’s second nature. Post this number (and any other emergency numbers) in a known and visible location so that your child will be less likely to panic if she really needs to call for help.
Ensure that your child knows how to make the emergency call. With technology, it’s not always just as simple as lifting the handset and dialing. If you have a cell phone or cordless phone, your child may also need to know how to use the “send” or “talk” button.
Emergency Exit Plan
First, make an emergency exit plan for your family. Your exit strategy should also mean considering different threat locations. For example, where would I go if a fire started in the kitchen?
Make sure that your child knows where the nearest exits are located and how to use them. If your child exits into the garage, do you have a side door to the outside or must the child use the garage door opener?
Not only should your child know how to exit the house but also where she should meet you once she is outside.
Review your emergency exit plan with your child frequently. Practice this monthly as many children will learn by doing the actions repetitively.
Teach your child to stay away from strangers. Of course, this means teaching your child what a stranger is. Not all strangers are dangerous, and you certainly don’t want your child scared of every person they meet. Part of this is ensuring that your child knows who community helpers are. These could be policeman, fireman, or a clergy. These people are generally looked to for safety or guidance, and they can assist a child in need.
Explain to your child what a dangerous situation may look like. She should never get in an unfamiliar vehicle, even if it seems innocent. If someone tries to get her to go in a vehicle, she should run away screaming and find a trusted adult right away. Of course, explain to never take candy, a toy, or gifts from a stranger.
A great tip is to have your child run to a safe place if someone is chasing them. A safe place is any place that has multiple people inside such as a grocery store or a library.
You may want to teach your child some self-defense skills to prevent someone from physically harming your child. You could teach them to poke an assailant in the eyes or kick him in the knee.
This one should be easy since almost everyone carries a cell phone now, but remember to always have a recent picture of your child with you. If she were to ever go missing, you can easily show the picture to the police so they can help you find her.
Know your child’s height, weight, eye color, and any birthmarks she may have. Keep the info about your child up to date as it will also help the police to find your child. It’s good to keep a mental note of what your child is wearing especially if you are going to be in a crowded environment.
Family Code Word
A family code word is a great idea for older kids. A code word is something you wouldn’t use in everyday conversation but not odd enough to throw suspicion. This is great when you have a teen that is at a party where others are partying and maybe it’s gotten a bit out of control. It can also be used for a teen that is on a date that has become uncomfortable. Whatever the situation, the teen can simply text you the code word on her cell phone to be picked up with no questions asked.
The code word is also great if you need someone to pick up your child from school. If the driver who is offering your child a ride cannot provide the family password, the child knows to find help.
Abuse of a child can come in many forms. I would guess that parents fear sexual abuse the most. While we fear stranger danger, research shows that the most common source of sexual abuse comes from people that are known to the child.
Think carefully about the situations in which your child is involved. Choose a group setting over a one-on-one setting when possible. Consider whether older youths are present and how many adults will be overseeing the event. Drop in unexpectedly when the situation allows and make sure that the event is public. In other words, if you cannot attend to observe, others may.
Teach your child what parts of their bodies others should not touch. Start talking about sex and your child’s body early so that it’s not uncomfortable to talk about. Keep the communication lines open with your child.
While we again often think of stranger danger when we think of online safety, the fact is that our privacy may be compromised more than our physical being. Your child should be advised never to post public photos of herself or send photos to someone they do not know. This would include sending explicit or inappropriate photos to a friend.
Children should know not to chat with someone they do not know even if they claim to be another youth. As well, kids should never download pictures from someone they do not know. Chances are high that it could be sexually explicit. Finally, make sure your child knows never to give out identifying information such as their name, address, phone number, or school information.
Children should be taught to swim as soon as possible, but parents should always encourage children to be aware of potential dangers. Children should be encouraged to only swim in designated areas and be aware of their limitations.
Even experienced swimmers can become tired. Thus, it’s important that children always swim with an adult or older youth. Know your state regulations. Many states require the use of a life vest/jacket when inside a boat whether it be motorized or not.
Remember that water accidents can also easily happen within the home. Prevent your young child from using the bathtub without adult supervision. It’s also a great idea to prevent children from having access to large bodies of water like a pool, lake, or pond.
Wandering will happen with most children at one time or another. Something may catch a child’s attention and she may go to see it. Make sure your child is aware of staying within sight when you are on outings whether it is a park or grocery store.
Consider having a whistle with both you and your child so that you can alert each other if you become separated. You may also want to look into safety ID cards or shoe tags so that your information is with your child in case of separation.
Home Safety Devices
When you brought your child home as an infant, you likely went through and did a thorough safety check. Baby-proof your home with outlet covers and bumpers on furniture corners. As your child ages, you may consider safety locks on drawers, bumpers on doors to prevent smashed fingers, and covers for stove knobs.
Make sure that your child is taught (when the time is right) how to use the door locks and other safety equipment. This could be essential during a needed escape.
Make sure to have smoke detectors in several areas of your home as well as a carbon monoxide detector. Of course, you should also check and/or replace these batteries monthly.
Smart parents will use furniture brackets and wall straps to secure furniture, electronics, and appliances in place to prevent them from tipping over onto your child.
Use cordless window coverings where available. If your blinds have cords, make sure to use cord stops to prevent strangulation.
Safety stickers are available to alert emergency personnel where your child’s room is located. As discussed earlier, make sure your child knows and practices your emergency exit plan.
To prevent fires, make sure your child understands the potential danger of fire and set a good example. Use childproof lighters and teach your child stop, drop, and roll.
You should contact your local fire department to see if they offer tours or family days where children can see the firemen and their gear. However, make sure your young child knows that it is never a good idea to fight a fire on her own.
From a very young age, you should involve your child in first aid without alarming her. Let her know if you are applying pressure to a small wound that the intention is to stop bleeding. Your child will pick up some emergency skills simply by mimicking your actions.
As your child gets older, make sure she knows where to locate the first aid kit and how to use it. Another great idea is to enroll a youth into CPR classes.
Remove any plants from your home that may be toxic. Make sure that all medications and vitamins are out of reach or locked in cabinets.
You should store known hazards in locked cabinets when possible. Known hazards could be nail polish remover, alcohol, antifreeze, or gasoline to name a few.
Keep the number for poison control (800)222-1222 on hand.
The safety of our children is important
It’s important that we teach our children how to be safe, especially in situations where we aren’t there. While you do want your child to be aware of the people and their surroundings, remember to educate your child without instilling fear about certain situations. When your child is safety conscious, you help to decrease the risk of anything happening to her.