Safe Kids Worldwide reports that 3.5 million kids go to the emergency department each year for the kinds of injuries that commonly happen in homes. These can be prevented by educating your children on household dangers and preparing them in case of an emergency.
1. Fire Safety
Create a fire safety plan for your family and practice running through it with your children.
Here’s a checklist of items to include in your safety plan:
- What to do if the smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms go off.
- An escape plan outlining at least 2 exits in each room.
- Practice getting low and out as quickly and safely as possible.
- Practice feeling the door, doorknob, and cracks around the door with the back of the hand to see if they are hot.
- Teach kids never to play with matches, lighters, or fireworks.
- If you have fire extinguishers- teach children where to find them, when and how to use them.
2. Food Safety
It is important to teach kids how to safely prepare meals to avoid food poisoning.
Teach your kids to:
- Always wash hands before preparing food/cooking.
- Always wash hands before eating.
- Rinse off raw fruits before eating.
- What food items are perishable.
- How to recognize foods that may have gone bad.
- How to recognize negative reactions from a food allergy- someone struggling to breathe, red rashes, swelling. Advise them to alert an adult if they or someone is experiencing these symptoms.
3. Household Chemicals & Hazards
Household cleaners are an everyday item in homes, but these cleaners and chemicals can be hazardous to children. It’s important to have a conversation with your children about the dangers associated with cleaners and chemicals.
Explain to your children which chemicals and cleaners are not to be played with- or touched. That they should never taste, smell, or touch cleaners or chemicals. Especially if they don’t know what they are. Another best practice is to have them report any spills or unknown containers to an adult.
4. Electrical Safety
Teach kids some safety rules around electrical energy sources like outlets, appliances, powerlines:
- Outlets are for plugging in devices and nothing else- don’t stick metal objects (such as silverware) in toasters or outlets.
- Keep electrical equipment and appliances away from water.
- Look out for damaged or frayed plugs.
- Keep an eye out for powerlines when climbing trees, flying kites, or flying drones.
- Stay away from down power lines- alert an adult if you see a down line.
5. Natural Gas Safety
It’s important to teach kids about safety regarding natural gas.
- Not to play with stoves, BBQs, space heaters, or generators.
- Alert an adult if they:
- Smell a bad smell like rotten eggs or a skunk.
- See blowing, bubbling from a gas source.
- Hear a hissing sound which can indicate a leaking pipe.
- After alerting an adult. Leave the area immediately.
Do not return to the area until the natural gas company tells you it is safe to do so.
6. Dug & Substance Safety
Medications should always be out of reach of children. But educating children about safety around over-the-counter medications and supplements will help keep them safe when they are exposed to them.
- Teach children that medicine and supplements are not candy. Vitamins are still medication that should be given by an adult.
- Utilize medicines with child-resistant packaging. Remember child resistant does not mean child-proof. With time and persistence some children will be able to get into medications.
- Advise them to ask permission from an adult before taking medications or supplements.
For pre-teens and teenagers:
- Introduce speaking about cigarettes, e-cigarettes (vaping), drugs, and alcohol use.
- Create a dialogue about drugs and substance used in the media.
- Have a conversation on energy drinks and safe consumption of caffeine. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents don’t consume energy drinks, yet between 30–50% reported consuming energy drinks.
By having conversations about safety with your children early on, you can help keep them and others safe. Some other great safety topics to discuss with your child are safety about being lost, how to play safely outdoors, and how to stay cautious around safe and unsafe strangers.