Child Safety for Parents
The child safety checklist is an opportunity to sit down with your child and discuss situations that your child might encounter. You should discuss a few situations each day. But there is no need to turn the checklist into drudgery or criticism. Children respond better to the "little at a time" approach. Remember, they are trusting little souls and precious gems of inexperience. Do not scare them to death, but make them aware of the possible dangers around them.
Do not take anything for granted about what you think your child knows!
General Information, Your Child, Should Know:
- When to call 9-1-1
- What to say to the 9-1-1 dispatcher (name, address, and tell what is happening)
- Their parent(s) full name(s) ("Mommy & Daddy" is not enough)
- Their home address
- Their phone number
- Where the parent(s) are employed
- At least one close friend and relative's phone number
You use This word or phrase with your children to confirm messages or rides with other adults.
For example, arrange for another adult to pick up your child. Do not tell the child about the arrangement. Tell the other adult the code word, and the child knows it is okay. After using the word/phrase, change it.
Safety at Home:
Do not talk to strangers
- Instruct kids to keep the doors locked and secure at all times and only open the door for familiar faces. Let them know that if any stranger rings the doorbell, they should stay quiet and not open it. This is especially important if your kids are old enough to be home alone. If you haven't already, consider installing security cameras so your family members can safely and efficiently see who's at the door.
Be familiar with the family emergency contact list
- Every household should have an emergency contact list, neatly written or printed and stowed somewhere central. If a disaster strikes, family members can easily refer to it and contact others if needed. Let your children know where to use this list and how to use it if needed. Ideally, contact information should be memorized (such as parents' phone numbers). Still, other family members' contacts, like grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the immediate area, can be noted on this emergency contact list, in addition to family contacts, including the phone numbers of local paramedics, fire departments, police stations, family doctors, and close friends to, be extra prepared. It is recommended to have emergency numbers easily accessible in various places throughout your home.
Know the family escape plan
- Time is of the essence during an emergency, so it's essential to have a solid family escape plan in place. Spend a family night discussing home safety and the potential escape routes should a disaster occur. Your children must know what measures to take if faced with a rare burglary or any other disaster. When creating an escape plan, the key is to devise the quickest way to get out of the house and ensure everyone in the family is on the same page and understands their role in ensuring everyone's safety. In addition to putting together the escape plan, you'll also want to set where family members should gather and meet outside to account for everyone's safety. If you are familiar with CPR, it would be a good idea to teach your children about it. First aid is another safety fundamental that kids would benefit from being familiar with early on. Show them the different elements they can use in a first-aid kit and how they are used. An excellent resource for creating the plan (with free templates is to visit Ready.gov.
Stay away from the medicine cabinet
- Kids should not have access to any medications when they aren't under a guardian's watch, as they could easily overdose or unintentionally take the wrong medicines. This could lead to serious health problems. Protect your children by teaching them that any drug can be dangerous if taken in large quantities. Also, inform them that they should not take any drug unless given to them by a parent or a trusted guardian.
Practice water safety
- Children under six years of age should constantly be monitored by a guardian when in a pool or bathtub because they can drown in just a few inches of water. Teach your children to "test the water" to ensure it isn't too hot before submerging their bodies in it and potentially burning themselves. Remind them that they should never mix electricity with water to avoid electrocution. Kids who do not know how to swim should use floaties in larger bodies of water. Help your children become familiar with floating techniques and basic swimming to be calm in the water.
- Water at any depth can be hazardous, Lake Travis has many depths and can change vastly. Supervise children near lakes and streams. Lastly, please encourage them to wear safety gear such as goggles, arm bands, and vests to stay afloat.
Pay attention to allergies
- Some kids may be allergic to various things — from certain pets, foods, and plants to name a few. If you know your child has any allergies, educate them so that they know what to look out for and stay away from. Kids allergic to cats, for example, should ideally stay away from them or take allergy medications if they go to a friend's house with a cat. Teach young ones about food allergies — what it means to have one and how to stay safe. With time and hopefully not too much experimentation, your children will eventually become familiar with what is and isn't good for their well-being.
Be able to use the security system
- Is your home equipped with a security system? If so, your children will benefit greatly from knowing how to use it. First and foremost, explain to them the importance of keeping security system information confidential. For example, if a key code is used to either activate or deactivate an alarm, that code should not be shared with anyone outside the family. Show your kids how to arm and disarm the alarm system and locate and activate any panic buttons.
Safety at Play:
Know which plants and animals to be wary of?
Kids playing out in nature should be taught to identify which local plants are dangerous, like how to identify poison ivy and poisonous berries. Neither is a pleasant experience and can end up in emergency room visits. As for animals, if you live in an area with snakes, you'll want to teach your kids to identify which ones are poisonous, where they tend to live, and what to do if bitten. The same goes for families living in an area with bears, cougars, and other wild animals. A healthy respect for all wildlife will go a long way in preventing injuries or death. City life may not have many encounters with plants that can cause harm, but poison ivy can propagate anywhere, especially in waterways near the lake. Many nocturnal animals, like raccoons, can be dangerous and could be carrying rabies.
Scout out the areas where children may go
- The terrain around rural areas can be great for playtime, but parents should make sure there aren't rotted-out trees with branches that could easily fall oﬀ and hit a child or deep water areas in a nearby stream. Open fields can often have holes dug out by animals, and a running child could easily injure their ankle by tripping over. In some parts of the country, there are unique terrain issues that parents should become aware of by contacting their local police department. Communal parks, alleyways, and other areas that kids may pass through or go to play should be checked out for any harmful debris like scrap metal or unsafe structures.
Set boundaries and curfews
- One of the joys of growing up in the country is playing outside in nature. Parents will want to set boundaries on how far their children can safely go. It's best to keep those boundaries within sight or, at most, within earshot of a loud bell that can be rung during dinner time. Curfews should also be set so parents know to search for them if an older child who can explore further isn't back by a specific time. It is often hard to see or hear very far in urban areas, so that the boundaries may be much tighter. As with other situations, you'll want to be very clear with your children about who they can trust and can't, as well as set a strict curfew once they're older and possibly allowed to go further out with friends.
Safety at School:
Keep personal information personal
Let your children know that personal information should stay personal and not be shared with strangers unless in an absolute emergency. Otherwise, phone numbers, picture IDs, and addresses should remain confidential. Teach your child not to release any information without your consent.
Don't accept anything from a stranger
While we're on the topic of strangers, it's time to teach your children to refuse anything given by strangers politely. Kids may be tempted to take candy or a fruity-looking drink that may appear harmless but could have something dangerous in them. Keeping them from accepting things from strangers goes beyond what can be ingested and can be accepting gifts.
No one should touch your child's body
When your children are old enough to comprehend the basics, it's essential to teach them that no one except their parents can touch them. Teach them the difference between good touch and bad touch. Also, let them know they should scream for help and alert those around them if they feel violated.
Safety and beyond:
Don't do anything that doesn't feel right
Growing up, children may feel pressured to do things they don't feel comfortable doing. Common examples include taking clothes off in front of others, diving in a pool, or eating/drinking something that may seem slightly off. Teach your kids that if their gut tells them no, they should listen to it. As long as they feel uncomfortable, they should never feel pressured to do something, no matter how many others do it. If they do not feel like doing something, show them how they can politely decline in various scenarios. In any emergency, ensure that at least one family member can supervise your children. Strangers should never be trusted with your kids.
Never wander off without an adult family member
Let your children know that if they need to go somewhere for something, they must be accompanied by an adult family member — their mom and dad or grandparent, for example. Kids should not leave the house or yard alone for obvious safety reasons. Additionally, they should not wander off anywhere with a stranger. Prepare your children for dangerous & high-pressure scenarios like someone saying, "Your mom told me to ask you to come with me," by instructing them to scream for help.
Fence climbing is not allowed
One day, your young and active child may be playing ball, and suddenly, it bounces to another fenced-off space. As tempting as it may be to climb the fence to retrieve the ball, it is unsafe. Teach your children that if this happens to them, they should either let go of the ball or ask a grown-up for assistance if one is around. No toy (or anything, really) is worth sacrificing safety!
Stay away from fire
Curious children are often intrigued by our; it's not uncommon that they want to play with it. Teach them that it is unsafe to do so, and let them know that experimenting with fire has dire, painful, and potentially deadly consequences.
Lost? Stay put
If your kids ever get lost somewhere, tell them to remain calm and stay where they are. Let them know they can ask a woman with children nearby for help if they see them. Usually, kids get lost in supermarkets. If yours ever gets lost in one, tell them they can go to the store's checkout section and seek help.