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Essential Child Safety Guidelines

Home is supposed to be your safe place, but the home is full of potential dangers. Some are obvious, but some aren’t as obvious. Nothing brings home safety to the forefront like having a child in the house.

Home Safety 

Whether it’s a grandchild or your baby, you suddenly see your home for what it is a trap full of danger. Seriously, though, you can make your home a lot safer just by being cognizant of the potential dangers and acting on the advice here.

Medication

Keep all medications up and out of the way of little hands. This is not always possible because children can climb to find things they aren’t supposed to have. And sometimes, the person who needs the medication can’t reach an area out of sight of the kids. 

The best thing to do is get a locked box that anyone cannot open but the person using the medications or delivering the medications. You can purchase a simple locked box like this one with a combination lock. They also make some with keys:

Poisons

Many items in your home are poisonous, from shampoo to laundry detergent and bug sprays. Keep these in a locked area as well, out of the way of children.

You can get safety doors on all your cabinets that small children cannot open. You can train older children about the dangers of household chemicals.

Firearms

The sad fact is that homes with firearms, whether trained or not trained in proper use and safety, are more likely to have devastating accidents. 

The best thing to do with firearms if you must have them is to buy a locked cabinet. Store the arms in the locked cabinet and the ammunition in another locked cabinet away from children and untrained individuals.

Batteries

These little packs of energy seem harmless enough, but children have been known to put them in their mouths and then, of course, swallow them. 

Almost 3000 children are treated each year after swallowing batteries. They’re in children’s toys; they’re in everything. Due to that, the death toll has risen exponentially over the last ten years. 

Keep batteries locked away and ensure children’s toys can have the battery area locked by screws that children cannot remove. If you think your child has swallowed a battery, go to ER immediately. 

Space Heaters

If you live in a cold climate, you are likely used to space heaters and know about their dangers. But, if you live in a warm climate and have a cold snap, space heater use is common, but most people don’t realize how dangerous they are. 

Follow all the instructions with your space heater and buy only from reputable stores such as Lowes or Home Depot. Most house fires that start in the winter months are from space heaters being used improperly.

Electric Blankets

Before using an electric blanket, especially if you have not used it for a long time, check for damaged areas. Also, check the heating element and ensure there are no burn marks or issues.

Electric blankets should be on top of the other blankets on your bed and not covered by other materials. Keep pets and small children away from electric blankets.

Fall Risks

The risk of falling in a house is quite high. Almost everyone, young or old, has fallen inside their own house. The best way to avoid it is always to turn on lights when walking through the house at night to the bathroom.

Also, keep items such as shoes, backpacks, and purses tucked neatly away from walking paths. Salt and scrape sidewalks, and avoid slippery areas.

There are many dangers inside a house, but you can help reduce or eliminate most of them through education and planning.

Automobiles and Kid Safety

The safety of your children is, of course, very important to you. You would never knowingly do anything to harm them.

But, sometimes people are trying to be safe but are still accidentally putting children at risk because of a lack of knowledge about whether something is safe. Let’s go over car safety and how kids can be kept safe.

Car Seats

First, every child should have a car seat. We need this from infants until a child is at least 12 years old or tall enough that the seat belt can fit them properly. A seat belt should lie across the upper thighs and shoulder in a snug manner. Seat belts do not go across the chest and stomach. In addition, children should always ride in the back until they’re adult size because it is safer.

There are two basic types of car seats:

  • Infant seats – These are for children who are under 12 months of age and are rear-facing. You can buy seats which are only for infants or that adjust for older children. However, keeping them in a rear-facing position is the safest. Would you mind doing this as long as you can find an appropriate seat for their height and weight?  

Be sure to post the limits of your car seat somewhere prominent so that you don’t forget. Note: If your baby is premature, there are special seats for them called car beds.

  • Toddler seats – These are sometimes called booster car seats. We should only use them for toddlers who have reached at least 30 lbs (check your model’s instructions). Once you move to a toddler seat, your child will use this seat until they’re approximately 80 lbs. Your child should use a booster seat until they are close to five feet tall. Some children will graduate to regular seat belts as young as 8, while some will not come until 12.

Another important factor to remember for car seats is always to read your manufacturer’s instructions as to whom it’s meant for and installation. Some local communities offer proper installation help through fire stations and other local organizations.

Other Car Safety Issues

  • Kids in the car alone – As tempting as it may be to pop in some place quickly, leaving children in the car is a very dangerous practice. Many things can happen in a split second. Just don’t do it. If you can’t take them in, don’t leave them and do your business another day.
  • Power windows – Power windows offer a child lock safety feature. It’s important to activate this feature because children have been killed because of power windows. Either they made the window go up and down and got caught, or a parent wasn’t paying attention and rolled the window up while their child’s head was out the window. 
  • Keeping Your driveway safe – Children don’t think when they get behind or in front of a vehicle in a driveway. However, it’s not only important for the adults to pay attention; it’s also important to teach your children not to run in front of or behind any vehicle, whether or not it’s parked.

  • Trunk safety – Children are curious by nature, and if they can get into a small space and shut it, they will. Many vehicles now come with glow-in-the-dark pulls that open the trunk from inside. If yours doesn’t have one, you can get one. Teach your children about the pull cord just in case they ever find themselves inside a trunk.

Driving Safety

There comes a time in all parents’ lives that they dread – their teenager getting behind the wheel. But driving is a teenage rite of passage and one that most do safely when trained properly. 

The statistics are staggering, however. Half of all deaths of 13- to 19-year-olds happen because of a car crash, with 16-year-olds having the most. There are ways you can reinforce safety to your teenager, and that is by example.

Don’t Talk on Your Phone

Most teens report talking on their phone while driving, and guess what an even higher percentage of parents do. You may think that your years behind the wheel make it okay, but kids do what they learn.

Would you mind not doing it? Set the example for safety for your kids, and they will be less likely to talk on the phone too.

Wear Your Seat Belt

Not only should you wear your seat belt, but you should also insist that everyone in your vehicle wears a seat belt.

Studies show that teenagers who have parents who show this practice consistently are more likely to wear seat belts themselves. Seat belts save lives. Minor fender benders can become death traps without a seat belt.

Never Drink and Drive

Parents often set terrible examples of even realizing it. Even having one or two glasses of wine or a couple of beers at dinner out, then driving the family home, is a poor example. Even if you’re not legally intoxicated, your reaction time will still be lower, and frankly, it’s just a poor example.

Don’t Speed

Each mile per hour you or your teenager goes over the speed limit ups your risk of accident proportionally. Speed limits aren’t made arbitrarily.

They make them based on the rate of accidents that happen at certain speeds in certain conditions on certain roads. Follow the rules of the road for yourself and as an example for your teenager.

Teaching Teens to Drive

Most of the time, a parent teaches their child to drive. Some schools have driver’s education programs, but due to how many students move through the school program, they will not learn if you do it yourself. Or you hire someone to do it for you. Be committed to providing your child the number of hours required by law before getting their driver’s license. This will help your child feel more confident and be a better driver.

No Passengers

When a teenager is learning to drive, they don’t need the added stress of extra passengers in the car for at least the first year of driving. It may sound like a relief to let your child drive your younger children around or fun to drive their friends around. But it’s not safe, and they’re not ready for the added responsibility.

In a nutshell, it’s important to be very careful driving. An automobile is a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. Don’t drink, use a cell phone, and wait until we earn experience before adding passengers. Of course, don’t speed and don’t drink and drive, and you’ll be less likely to have an accident.

Fire Safety

The very best fire safety is fire prevention. It’s important when cooking, or starting a fire in a fireplace, or using a space heater, to always be aware of the dangers and practice smart safety tips. 

Always read the directions of any equipment the first time you use it, and take precautions to avoid accidents – such as not allowing children to light candles or cook alone. Install a fire alarm in every room of the house and test it periodically to ensure it is working.

House Fires

House fires are one of the most feared and devastating disasters a family can face. They can occur and get out of control quickly.

That’s why the entire family must be trained (where age-appropriate) to use a fire extinguisher and how to get out of the house during a fire. 

Regular fire drills should be the norm in a house full of children. Children trained to get to safety during a house fire are much more likely to survive than those who are not trained. Teach them if they catch their clothing on fire to stop, drop and roll.

During everyday life events, sometimes people are burned or scalded. This can happen in the kitchen and the bathroom. 

Kitchens

Always be extra careful when boiling water or handling hot foods. If possible, cook on the back burner and turn handles away from the counter edge to stop little children from grabbing or you from accidentally hitting it and knocking it over.

In addition, use dry potholders; wet ones will transfer the heat. Never open a hot food container toward your face because the pressure will cause it to spit. Never heat bottles in the microwave.

Bathroom

If your hot water is too hot, readjust it. It should not be set higher than 140° F with an anti-scale mechanism installed to deliver the water at a lower temperature.

You need the higher setting to avoid bacteria in the water heater. Teach children hot and cold and tell younger children not to turn the hot on without your help.

If you get a scald or a burn, the best treatment is running it under cool water. If you are badly burned, cover the burn with a clean cloth to avoid infection, and seek immediate medical attention.

If your fabric is burned into the skin, don’t remove it; seek attention immediately. If a child has blisters from a scald, it is best to seek medical attention.

Carbon Monoxide

There is also a risk in your home that you may not realize. It’s carbon monoxide. The problem with this gas is that you cannot smell it, and you will not know it exists.

But, a family can die while sleeping because it will cause headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and fainting. If you are in bed when this happens, you may not wake up to save yourself.

Therefore, besides a fire alarm installed in your home, you should have a carbon monoxide detector, too.

Internet Safety

Using the internet is sort of like letting your children loose in NY City. It’s a dangerous place, and much can go wrong if you’re not educated on the facts. 

You need to understand how dangerous the internet is, what can happen, and how to prevent bad things from occurring.

You don’t want to keep your kids from using the internet to discover wonderful things, but you do want to protect them from the seedier parts of life as long as you can.

Talk to Your Child

Talk to your child about the internet and how it’s not private. They’re not anonymous on the net, no matter how careful they are with screen names, picture sharing, and other instances.

While most social networks offer some privacy settings, there are always those who can get around them. Assume anything you say or share online is available for the world’s viewing. Any strange who asks to meet them is a danger.

Monitor Your Child

Place the computer in the family room while children are younger. After a child has reached an older age, about 15 to 17 years, and has shown how responsible they are, you can reconsider and allow them access to computers in their room. But, until then, it’s best that you can monitor their activity at all times. 

Make sure they know you’re monitoring, too. For children, privacy is overrated for the internet. Would you let your child at their age alone take a bus in NY City? If not, don’t leave them alone with the internet.

Give Your Child Rules

The following set of rules will help keep your child safe on the internet.

  • 1. No downloading anything without permission.
  • 2. Don’t share pictures unless approved by a parent.
  • 3. Create screen names that offer no personal information.
  • 4. Ask before sharing any personal information.
  • 5. No talking to strangers.
  • 6. No bullying – report bullying when you see it.
  • 7. Follow the rules.
  • 8. Use real research websites (ask a librarian).
  • 9. If someone makes you uncomfortable, tell.
  • 10. Don’t meet anyone or invite them over to what you met online.

These rules are in place to keep your child safe. Explain to them that just because someone says they are a 14-year-old boy doesn’t mean they are.

Their pictures can be stolen, and everything they say can be a lie. Talk to them about other children who have been kidnapped because of meeting a stranger on the internet. 

A noble person to follow online regarding this issue is Alicia Kozakiewicz. She was abducted when she met someone online and met him on the street. Her story is horrific, but she survived, and she has a lot to teach parents and teenagers.

Play and Playground Safety

Playing is fun, but it can also be dangerous. It’s important to use a few rules and common sense when your children play to ensure they stay safe as possible.

Some issues can happen in a split second you may not have foreseen.

Toys and playground equipment can be dangerous without you even realizing it.

There are safety regulations in place, but sometimes a toy or a piece of equipment is old and was made before a new regulation was put into place. Even in the best circumstances, using a little common sense can go a long way.

Toys

Ensure that the toys your child is using meet the right age requirement. Those age restrictions are in place to help prevent strangulation, choking, and other issues. For instance, a puzzle meant for a six-year-old might be put together by a 3-year-old, but they probably shouldn’t because the pieces might choke hazards.

If a toy fits in a child’s mouth all the way, they probably shouldn’t play with it unless you’re directly supervising them. And even then, if they are younger than 3 or 4, they shouldn’t play with it at all.

Playground Equipment

Ensure that the playground you choose for your child to play on is up to date and safe. There are no sharp edges, soft ground to fall on, and updated safer play areas and equipment to help keep injuries to a minimum such as netting for climbing that doesn’t allow your child’s head to fit through it.

The highest any toy should be from the ground, no matter how soft the surface, is 12 feet.

Adult Supervision

The biggest protection for children is to have adult supervision at the playground. Children think they’re safe at a playground and will test their limits there.

Having a parent or adult supervision is your best source of protection. It doesn’t matter how old the child is; if he’s old enough to play at a playground, he needs adult supervision.

Pedestrians and Strangers

Teach children not to talk to strangers at the playground other than a polite “yes ma’am” or “yes sir” to other children’s parents or while you are standing right there.

A stranger who wants to play with or talk to your child, who has no other children, or a random pedestrian should be avoided.

Sharing

Children can be selfish on the playground. Teach children to play and take turns without pushing, shoving, or grabbing.

It’s difficult to teach children to wait their turn or deal with bullies, but with you being right there to intervene and help, they’ll be that much safer and less likely to get injured.

Finally, do a check of the playground each time you take your children to play. Check for broken glass, metal, or other sharp objects.

Check for holes that running children could fall in or protrusions that can be tripped over. Doing a quick inspection each time your children want to play can prevent accidents.

Recreation Safety

Everyone enjoys recreation. It’s great to ride your bike, skateboard, and do other fun stuff when the weather permits. But all this fun has danger attached to it.

The significant thing is that you can eliminate and prevent many accidents by practicing basic safety precautions, no matter the type of sport or recreation your children want to be involved with.

Biking

Every child eventually learns to ride a bike. It’s a rite of passage, almost as exciting as getting a driver’s license. It’s also almost as dangerous.

Riding a bike is a great mode of transportation for children and a great way to explore the neighborhood and do things with friends. But, used improperly, it can be deadly.

Ensure that the bike is the right size for your child. Using a bike too small or too big can make falling more likely. In addition, all children (and adults) riding bikes should wear a helmet.

Riding a bike without a helmet is a terrible choice. Even professional bike riders have accidents that would kill them without a helmet.

Skateboarding and Skating

This is a fun sport that a lot of children and teenagers love to do. There is nothing wrong with being a skater, whether on a skateboard or the old-fashioned skates. It’s great exercise and loads of fun. But few are as careful as they should be.

Helmets should be worn at all times and protective gear such as knee and elbow pads. There is specific safety equipment you can purchase made for skateboarding. Be sure that you get the right kind that gives the skater freedom of movement.

Skiing and Snowboarding

These are fun sports to get involved in, especially if you live in an appropriate climate. But, there are very serious safety concerns to consider.

As normal, children should have the training, if not by a parent then by a professional, to safely ski. There are many concerns, such as protective gear as well as preventing frostbite and another weather-related injury.

ATVs

Ensure that children always have adult supervision when using ATVs. They can be great fun, but they are also very dangerous. Many pediatricians recommend against their use. Wear approved protective gear such as helmets and goggles.

Everyone driving an ATV should wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts, boots, and gloves. Riding ATVs is limited to being driven off-highway and hard surfaces.

Hiking and Climbing

Believe it or not, there are fewer injuries from climbing accidents than there are from ATV accidents. People take climbing more seriously, using the proper safety gear and professional help. This is mostly because a large percentage of the population is afraid of heights.

Hiking poses more risk than just climbing. The key thing is to use the right protective gear and wear the right clothing for the climate. Wear long pants and layers, and bring along provisions like water and protein bars. Also, don’t go alone.

Recreational activities are loads of fun, and they can remain fun if you use general precautions and are aware of the dangers. Always supervising children and teaching them the safe way to do things will keep your recreational activities fun.

Sleep Safety

Most people don’t think about the dangers of sleeping. But for babies, it can be one of the most dangerous times of their life, especially if their parents are not educated on the proper sleeping positions, suffocation risks, and other perils in the crib.

Parents want their children to be safe and sometimes take advice from well-meaning family and friends who haven’t read the most up-to-date information regarding sleeping safety and children.

Even this information can become out of date. Always check with the National Institute of Health for the most updated safety precautions you can take for your child’s safe sleep.

The baby’s bed should have no bumpers, pillows, blankets, or toys inside it while sleeping. On colder nights, put a baby in pajamas with feet so that he’ll be warm.

Babies who die in their crib typically die of suffocation from one of these items. Babies will pull anything they can touch into their mouths and suck on it. A baby has powerful sucking and can choke and suffocate himself easily with the right materials.

Place babies to sleep on their backs. You can swaddle an infant that doesn’t roll over yet tightly in a receiving blanket, as long as it cannot be rolled off or come off from the baby’s natural movements.

The surface of the baby’s bed should be firm so that if the baby does turnover, they can still catch their breath, and the material doesn’t block their mouth and nose.

The best location for your baby’s crib until at least six to 12 months of age is in your room so that your baby is nearby. It will be more convenient anyway for the multiple times during the night you’ll need to get up to feed them.

If the crib is within arm’s distance, all the better. But don’t let your baby sleep with you unless you purchase an approved co-sleeping device that fits on the side of your bed.

In addition, do not smoke around your baby. Smoking in the home has been shown to increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and it’s just not worth it.

If you’re nursing, stop smoking. If you are not nursing, go outside to smoke away from the children. It’s just not worth the consequences. Also, never put a pacifier or binky on a string if you choose to give one to your child.

As your child gets older, you can allow them to have a blanket and a pillow, but only after 14 to 16 months of age. Ensure that the pillow and blanket are lightweight.

If your child is cold, dress them warmer and turn the heat. Once your child moves to a toddler bed, you can use normal blankets and pillows, but use a protective and approved railing to keep your toddler from falling.

Once your child moves to their room and their own “grown up” bed, it’s time to teach children about fire safety and safely getting out of the house. This can start as early as 2 to 3 years of age.

Sports Safety

Almost all children love to get involved with sports. Even if they don’t, you’ll want to encourage them to be involved because it’s good for their health, socialization and makes them feel part of something important. 

However, like most things in life, it’s also important to be educated about sports safety.

Get a Physical

Take your child to their pediatrician before enrolling them in any sport. Most sports require a physical today. You can get sports physical at many Urgent Care Clinics, Walk-in Clinics, and even a chiropractor’s office if you don’t have a regular doctor. 

The doctor can make sure there are no reasons your child cannot participate in the sport they want to be involved in.

Use the Right Equipment

Depending on the sport, there is appropriate equipment that you will need to purchase. Buy the most up-to-date equipment you can afford because you can be almost sure that this equipment passes current safety regulations. Don’t skimp on the right shoes, gear, and equipment.

Guarding against Injury

Ensure that your child always warms up before participating in sports. They should also be well-fed an hour or two before enjoying their sport and staying hydrated throughout the activity. 

The best drink for hydration is water or coconut water. Sweet drinks and so-called “sports drinks” really don’t help that much and can impede hydration. Another thing that guards against injury is following the rules of the sport.

Ensure the Sport Is Age-Appropriate

Most city sports and school sports have age groups for their sports. Usually, these age guidelines help to keep your child safer. Even if your child is a better player than most, keeping them in their age group will be safer. 

There are some cases where your child is a lot smaller or less coordinated than other children. If this is the case, ask about moving your child to an age group lower based on size.

Rest

Believe it or not, rest is important too. Between seasons, let your child get some rest, and don’t jump right into another sport. Being good at one or two sports is better than being mediocre at all of them. Plus, sports – as fun as they are – can also be stressful for some children who have high expectations. Let your child get some rest.

Child Predators

Ask whether your sports organization does background checks on their coaches and other assistants. If not, you should be extra wary and always attend every game and practice with your child. Not that all coaches are predators, but it’s best to be safe. Another way to increase safety is to ask for a safe program where no one adult is left alone with anyone child, ever. 

Sports are fun, educational, and add a lot to a child’s life. Getting involved is wonderful, and you can make it even more wonderful with many splendid memories just by practicing these safety tips.

Water Safety

When the weather is right, it’s time to have fun in the sun, usually including swimming, boating, and other fun activities involving water. 

Like most fun things, there are a few dangers involved, but with the right knowledge, equipment, and understanding of safety, you can protect your child.

Remember that anybody of water is dangerous. It can be as little as 2 inches deep, and a toddler can fall in it and drown. Never allow children to play near anybody of water unsupervised. 

In addition, if you are at a pool party and adults are drinking, be the one adult who refuses to drink and keep a keen eye on the children. Remember, drowning doesn’t always look like drowning, and you have to be super aware to avoid any problems.

Basic Safety

Children who can swim still need life preservers when boating. But, around a supervised pool, children who can swim can do so without a safety vest. Little children who cannot swim need to wear a safety vest at all times around any pool, river, or lake. And, of course, they should always be supervised. 

Pool Rules

Most public pools have a list of rules such as no unsupervised children under 12 or 13. However, it’s probably a good idea if no child ever swims unsupervised, and older teenagers should always have a buddy with them. 

You never know when something can cause a problem, and drowning happens fast. So, follow the rules, but use some common sense to ensure your child’s safety.

Drowning

The thing about drowning is that it doesn’t always look like drowning. Unfortunately, more public areas are doing without lifeguards, relying on parents to protect their children. But an untrained parent can miss the signs of drowning. 

People who are drowning don’t thrash around and yell as you might think. Instead, they get quiet and cannot yell for help. Children have drowned right by their parents, who watched them do it. It’s important to learn the signs of drowning, such as: 

  • Water at mouth level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Unfocused eyes
  • Closed eyes
  • Hair in the eyes
  • Swimmer appears vertical
  • Gasping
  • Hyperventilating
  • Trying to swim
  • Trying to roll over
  • Seems to try to climb

Here is a video to watch to see how this looks. It’s called the Instinctive Drowning Response. It’s important to understand what it looks like it. As it doesn’t look as bad as you think. The most you have is about 60 seconds to save them. As the video states, it can look like their doggie paddling, when in fact, they are drowning.

You can prevent drowning accidents by paying attention at all times. Don’t allow children to go too deep in the water when they’re not experienced and strong swimmers, put life vests on children, and never allow anyone – child or adult – to swim alone unsupervised. Even with the best precautions, drowning can occur.

Essential Child Safety Guidelines

Essential Child Safety Guidelines

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