Being a parent always comes with a certain amount of anxiety. Today, the news is full of horrific tales of school shootings and kids dying from street drugs and Tide Pods. When considering the risks your children face on any given day, it’s sensible to be cautious and do whatever you can to protect them. The following are some guidelines to help you recognize and address the most significant hazards for your children.
Safety in and around Vehicles
Vehicle accidents are one of the deadliest risks today for people of all ages. For teenagers, most crashes involve alcohol, illegal drugs, and texting while driving. While your teens may get tired of hearing you repeat the same messages over and over, it’s impossible to overemphasize how dangerous these behaviors are.
Make sure children get buckled up when they ride in vehicles. Younger children need to be careful when they cross streets and ride bicycles or skateboards. Remind them that drivers are not always as attentive as they should be. Make sure they carry a flashlight and wear bright-colored clothing when they go out after dark.
Some of the most significant dangers today are online, where predators, cyberbullies, and hackers use kids to gain access to your home computer. Online bullying can be as traumatic as the offline variety, and sometimes more threatening, as it can occur at all hours of the day, even when the kids are at home. Make sure they feel comfortable talking to you about such issues. Also, be alert to changes in behavior, including anxiety or a desire to avoid school.
Educate your children about online safety. If they use social media sites, make sure their settings are private. Instruct them never to open links sent from strangers. You may also want to use controls to limit what younger children can access online.
For more help check out this top-rated book: Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens: Helping Young People Learn To Use the Internet Safely and Responsibly
Guns are a controversial topic right now. Whatever your beliefs, it’s crucial to recognize weapons are potentially dangerous, especially if you don’t follow sensible precautions. If you have guns in the house, make sure to lock them up when you aren’t using them. Children should also be educated about gun safety and learn never to treat them as toys.
Please also see Gun Safety: Keeping Children Safe from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Preventing Accidents around the Home
Here are some of the most common hazards children face in and around the house.
- Falls: Open windows, staircases, and tall furniture can all pose falling risks for young children. The best way to prevent this is through vigilance. Be especially careful to close upper story windows when children are upstairs.
- Poisoning: Many household items including cleaners are highly toxic. Be sure to keep bottle caps secure and don’t leave such things where children can easily find them.
- Kitchen appliances: Oversee children when you’re cooking, particularly the younger ones. Make sure you close the oven door when it’s hot. Children can get cut on knives and other sharp objects, so always close and latch the dishwasher and keep utensils pointing downward.
- Dogs: Many children get bitten each year, sometimes by the neighbor’s dog, a stray, or in many cases, the family dog. Never leave young children alone with a dog, even one you trust. Teach kids never to approach dogs outside without first confirming with the owner that it is safe.
Please also see Home Safety Checklist from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Children love to be around water in the warm weather. Swimming, boating, and other water-based activities, however, present specific risks. Keep in mind that many drowning accidents occur in shallow water, including bathtubs and the shallow end of swimming pools. Teach children to swim as early as possible, and only let them swim when there’s adult supervision nearby. Make sure they wear life vests when in boats.
Please also see Water Safety: Tips for Parents of Young Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Keeping Your Kids Healthy
Some parents overlook the risk of obesity and diseases associated with inactivity and a poor diet. Childhood obesity, as well as diabetes in young people, has risen sharply in recent years. Compared to children of earlier generations, today’s kids are more likely to spend their time indoors, fixated on their screens.
Combining insufficient physical activity with a diet heavy in sweets and junk food is a recipe for poor health. Parents should monitor their kids’ eating habits and encourage them to exercise, play outside, and stay active. If necessary, place limits on the time they spend in front of their screens, whether TV, phone, tablet, computer, or game console.
For more information, please visit Healthy Children, a website just for parents from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Despite alarming news about school shootings, these incidents are relatively rare. Nonetheless, it’s good to take sensible precautions and do everything you can to keep your child safe during school hours. Of course, you should also take steps to protect your child from more common threats like bullies and local predators. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
- Be active with your child’s school. Attend parent-teacher nights and public meetings, and get to know your child’s teachers. Join the PTA and volunteer when you can. This will help in keeping up with the school’s safety procedures as well as give you a chance to provide input.
- Keep track of your child’s social life. If he or she is having trouble making friends, do what you can to help. One way to do this is to befriend (or at least be friendly with) other parents in your community. Kids who are isolated become targets for bullies and are more prone to problems including depression.
- Make sure your child can get in touch with you quickly if necessary. Giving kids cell phones with parents’ contact information programmed into them is an excellent way to ensure they can easily call you.
- Educate your kids about safety rules. That includes being wary of strangers as well as telling them whom to contact if they get lost, run out of money, or feel afraid for any reason.
More information regarding safety at school on the web:
These are some ways to keep your child safe in today’s complex world. Communication is one of the most critical factors in all these areas. It’s essential that your kids feel comfortable telling you about anything that’s troubling them. Ask them questions about how they’re doing at school and how they’re getting along with friends, and look for signs of any possible issues.