Sunday Safety School
by Jennifer Bright Reich
I admit it: I’m a worrier. If I’m not worried about something, I worry I’m missing something.
My best tools I have to combat this constant anxiety are education and training. I learned that as a Lieutenant in the Army, and I see it in action too with my husband, a professional firefighter.
When our sons were babies, we babyproofed the house really well. I literally wrote a book on it when Tyler was a baby, The Babyproofing Bible.
As our sons grew, we adjusted our babyproofing efforts accordingly, removing some methods and adding new ones. I once might have thought that when my kids were school aged, I wouldn’t worry so much about their safety. Oh no, I just have new things to worry about.
So we recently started a new program: Sunday Safety School. Each Sunday after supper, we “meet” in the living room to talk about safety concerns. My husband and I try to make it fun, and keep it as light as possible. In addition to explaining things, we also do a lot of role-playing. But the boys know this is serious stuff. The first week we talked about what to do if someone tries to lure them into a car or grab them in a store. (Yell and run away as fast as you can to find a grown-up.)
Other topics we plan to cover include:
- Fire drills
- Stop, drop, and roll
- Don’t play with matches
- What to do if you see a gun
- How to be safe around dogs
I’ve gradually removed some of our safety devices, such as outlet covers. But here are some of my favorite kidproofing tips that are still imporatant for older kids.
- Turn the temperature of your hot water down to 120°F. To test it, run your hot water until it’s as hot as it gets. Fill a ceramic mug, and then take your water’s temperature with a meat thermometer. If you live in an apartment or can’t adjust your water temp, install an anti-scald device on the faucet. Because kids have thinner skin than adults, their skin burns more quickly. Just three seconds of exposure to 140°F water can give a child a third-degree burn.
- Install nonslip mats in your bathtub and on the floor next to the tub.
- Check the temperature of the tub water before letting your child get in.
- Never ever leave your child unattended in the tub.
- Wipe up puddles of water immediately. Teach your child that wet floors are slippery floors and to “walk gently.”
- Keep all medications and vitamins in high, locked cabinets. This includes items you might not think of as dangerous, but can be, such as Visine and iron tablets.
- Keep hair dryers and curling irons unplugged, and better yet stowed away.
- Make sure your hair dryers and other appliances in the bathroom have large, rectangular plugs. Inside those special plugs is a circuit that senses water and, in milliseconds, shuts off the power, keeping your child safe if the appliance accidentally falls into water.
- Keep cleaning chemicals in high, locked cabinets. This includes dishwasher detergents, furniture polish, and pretty much anything you’d use to clean your home.
- Load the dishwasher with knives pointing down and keep the dishwasher closed, locked if possible.
- If your stove’s knobs are on the front, within reach of your child, remove them or install knob locks.
- Train yourself to cook on the back burners whenever possible and to turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
- Before you take a hot pan or pot off the stove, for example, to drain cooked pasta in the sink, scan the room to see where your toddler is. Then say a simple warning like, “Hot stuff, stay back!”
- Keep electrical cords and power strips out of reach.
- Keep candles and matches far out of reach.
- Slide TVs back from the edge of cabinets, or better yet mount them to the cabinet or wall.
- Secure heavy and tall furniture, such as bookcases, to the wall or floor. Each year, nearly 15,000 kids visit emergency departments for furniture-tip-over-related injuries.
- Latex balloons should be kept completely away from kids younger than eight years old. If a child puts a popped balloon in his mouth, the balloon can drape itself over the entrance to his larynx, suffocating him.
- Along the same lines, tie up and discard plastic shopping bags, keeping them far out of your toddler’s reach.
Mommy MD Guides–Recommended Product: Safety 1st Oven and Refrigerator Locks
Your child is now tall enough to reach the oven door and strong enough to pull open the refrigerator, so it’s time to start making these appliances safe. It’s particularly important if you have an extra fridge or freezer in your basement or another out-of-the-way place where your child might decide it’s a good spot to play hide and seek.
Safety 1st offers oven and refrigerator locks to prevent injuries, but remember when you install them that the surface has to be very clean before you put them in place. The Safety 1st Oven Door Lock (Model HS035) retails at $5.49 and can be found at Wal-Mart, Babies ’R Us, and online retailers. The Safety 1st Refrigerator Door Lock (Model HS187) retails at $5.49 and can be found at Wal-Mart and online retailers. Visit Safety1st.com for more information.