Safety rules can be one of those habits that seem silly until something goes wrong. However, with the right rules in place, you can avoid accidents that can lead to serious injuries and worse. To make sure that you and your family are safe before something bad happens, the list below is a good start.
Make locked doors your go-to setting when you’re home in the house. If you want to leave a door open to let in fresh air or light, lock the screen or storm door. When you park the car in the garage, lock the car when you close the garage door so children can’t crawl in the car and start it without your notice. When your children are tall enough to turn deadbolts, make sure they know
- to ask an adult to open the door, or at least someone tall enough to look out the peephole
- friends and guests will be willing to wait for an adult
- politeness to strangers is appropriate, but letting strangers in is not
Building a healthy habit of being aware of stranger-danger without being constantly frightened is a tough balance for parents. Awareness of what to do when someone comes to the door is a good start.
Share Your Location and Schedule
Make sure all adults know where the other adults are, and as your children start to attend their own activities, keep in touch. Give older children deadlines as well as freedoms; if basketball practice is over at 6 pm, your older child should either be home by 6:30 or let you know why not.
If children can’t handle their own schedule, you may have to cut back on the activities they’re allowed. Demonstrating responsibility in managing a fuller schedule is the best way to indicate that an older child is worthy of more unsupervised time or more outside activities. By the time they’re ready to drive and interested in a part-time job, a child who knows how to manage their schedule will be better prepared to make good choices.
Create Barriers Around Hazards
Children are naturally curious and some are inclined to explore more than others. Make sure that you have barriers in place for items you can’t move. This means
- putting gates on stairs
- blocking outlets
- keeping an eye on children who love to climb
Keep your cleaning products high above little hands. Don’t put tempting treats up high where a climber will notice. Put an aluminum pool fence around your swimming pool and teach your little ones to swim as soon as possible. Put locks on lower cupboards that contain hazards.
Learn Basic First Aid
Take a class so you know how to do the Heimlich maneuver and CPR on people of all ages. Learn the signs of a concussion. Learn the signs of stroke in older adults, and pay attention to new information on signs of heart attack in men and women; this data is constantly expanding.
If you have a family history of allergy, learn the signs of a dangerous allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis. Older children with allergies should know what they’re allergic to and how to refuse any foods that contain those foods. If your child needs access to an EpiPen, make sure they have one with them at all times and the gear to carry it easily.
Healthy Rules on Habits
Be ready to set some “always” rules. For example, teach your children to always
- use sunscreen
- carry a water bottle
- know where your closest adult is
As children get older, make sure they can clearly recite their name, their address and the phone number of their parents. Tell your children they can always say “no!” to someone who makes them uncomfortable.
While parents strive to always keep their children safe, the ultimate goal is to help the child keep themselves safe. Parenting is a form of planned obsolescence that you build over a lifetime. Get the right training so you can handle an emergency, but create rules that your child can make their own so they can build their own safe and healthy lifestyle.