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Protecting Children Through Prevention

As parents and caregivers, you are probably well aware that as children explore and play in their environment, they can get easily hurt. You may not always be able to protect them, but you can take steps to lessen the chances of injuries and teach them safe habits to protect themselves from dangerous situations.

In this podcast, we will cover a variety of potential dangers including cars, poisons, indoor and outdoor environments, fire, and the Internet.

We’ll start with cars and outdoor environments:

  • Never leave your children alone in the car, even for a minute. The temperature can become too hot or your child may hurt herself inside.
  • If a child is younger than 12 years old, he should not sit in the front seat, as a passenger airbag can hurt him. The back seat is always safest.
  • Any child between 8 and 12 years and at least 4 feet 9 inches tall should always buckle her lap/shoulder seat belt. The belt should go across her hips, not her stomach, and across the center of her shoulder. Don’t let children ride in the car while sharing seat belts, without fastened seat belts, or on someone’s lap.
  • Always use car seats, even for short rides.
  • Use seats that meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. For information about the type of seat that should be used based on a child’s age, height, and weight, contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Most likely, you’re going to be taking your children outside to play, learn to ride a bike, or to the pool. These outdoor environments are a great way for your child to get exercise and to spend time together as a family, but they do pose safety risks.

  • When you’re at a playground, check for hot surfaces and sharp objects, and make sure the equipment is sturdy.
  • Ensure your child always has the appropriate safety gear, such as helmets, elbow and knee pads, and wrist guards when riding bikes, rollerblading, or skateboarding.
  • When around water, never leave infants or young children alone, as they can easily drown, even in a bucket of liquid or a bathtub.
  • Teach children 4 years and older how to swim, and make sure that an adult is always present. If you have a pool or hot tub at home, make sure there is a locked fence enclosing it.
  • When outdoors, make sure that children wear sunscreen on with at least SPF 15, and apply it 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply throughout the day as needed, even on cloudy days, and keep babies younger than 6 months old out of direct sunlight.

You should also teach your children about safety when on the street. They should learn to:

  • Always look both ways before crossing the street
  • Never chase a ball into the street
  • Watch for cars backing out of driveways
  • Ride their bike on the right side of a road moving with traffic.

Now let’s discuss safety hazards in indoor environments.

Poisons pose a real hazard in the home due to commonly used cleaning products and medicines.

  • When using cleaning products, open windows for proper ventilation.
  • Keep chemicals, cleaning products, cosmetics, shampoo, and soap out of children’s reach or in a locked cabinet.
  • Teach children not to eat, drink, or open products if they don’t know what they are.
  • Don’t use barbeques or other outdoor equipment as a source of heat, because they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Watch for sources of lead poisoning, which include dust, keys, paint chips, play sand made of stone or marble, soil, and painted or plastic toys.
  • You can prevent lead poisoning by using unleaded paints and chemicals, washing hands regularly, and testing painted surfaces. Testing should be done by a professional.
  • Warning signs of poisoning include: strange smelling breath, burns around the mouth, sweating, upset stomach or vomiting, dizziness, or convulsions. If your child has these symptoms, call the Poison Help Line at 800-222-1222.

Fire is another danger to discuss with your children, and to be well prepared for as a family.

  • Make sure children know that candles, lighters, and matches are not items to be played with.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed outside every room where someone sleeps, on every level of your home, and in the garage. Test your alarms every 6 months and change the batteries every year.
  • Keep flashlights and fire extinguishers in your home, and know how to use them.
  • Have a fire escape plan and practice it.
  • In the event of a fire, crawl on the floor since smoke and heat rise.
  • Teach your children not to run if their clothes are on fire, but to “stop, drop, and roll,” meaning STOP where they are, DROP to the ground, and ROLL covering their faces with their hands.

In this day and age, it is important to address dangers posed by technology. The Internet has become a normal and necessary part of life, but it poses some threats that you should talk to your children about before they start using a computer. In order to protect your children from cyber hazards, follow these tips:

  • Let them know that they should come to you if they experience any problems online and that they should communicate only with people that they know in person, and never arrange meetings with strangers or give out personal information including passwords.
  • Warn them about online predators, cyberbullying, and phishing (a term for senders who pretend to be a friend, government agency, or bank for illegal purposes).
  • Keep the computer in a common room in the home where it is easy to supervise.
  • Bookmark the websites that your children can visit, and use parental controls that allow you to block, monitor, filter, and rate websites with inappropriate content.
  • Create rules that limit the amount of time your child may use the computer, with whom they are allowed to interact, what types of websites and games they can access, and when they are allowed to use the computer.
  • It is good for children to be reminded that they are still responsible for their actions, even in the online world.

To download our “Safety” brochure and to browse additional brochures and podcasts, visit Children’s Home Society of California’s website at www.chs-ca.org.

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