Parents, teachers, guardians, and even babysitters are all people who are routinely responsible for the care and well-being of children. Because both infants and children are not capable of making the decisions and taking the actions necessary to keep themselves safe, their safety relies on the knowledge and efforts of those who care for them.
At any point during the day, a child is faced with potential threats from the things around him or her. From the food that they eat to the water that they bathe in, the risk of injury, and even death is something that people should always take seriously. Although some adults may instinctively know how to keep children safe in some instances, they all must learn how to do it in every situation.
Home Safety Guides
A home safety guide is an invaluable tool for first time parent. A useful safety guide will instruct parents on what is necessary to create a home environment for their children that is the least likely to result in injury or death for them. Information will often include what should be done before the birth of the baby and through various stages of his or her life. For example, a home safety guide may discuss playpen safety for infants, and staircase safety for children who are old enough to walk or crawl. It will also advise parents on what changes to make around the home to make it a safer environment.
- Child Safety Guide (PDF)
- A Safety Guide to Baby's Milestones
- Do it Yourself Child Home Safety Guide (PDF)
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Neighborhood Safety Information
Children enjoy playing outdoors and outdoor playtime often happens in the neighborhood in which they live. Though parents may feel that a familiar neighborhood may feel safe, it is important that parents should assess the safety of the children’s environment during their playtime. If you are letting your child play outside, it is very important for you to get to know your neighborhood. Neighbors can look out for each other’s children. By communicating, neighbors can be more aware of suspicious people, behavior, and activities happening in the neighborhood.
Ground rules should always be set for children who are old enough to play outside. This will ensure that they know where they can and cannot go. A constant reminder should be given to children about talking to strangers. Instill in them that they should not talk or go with a stranger even if they are offered something nice. It is also important for them to know where they can seek help when they feel that they are in immediate danger.
- Neighborhood Safety Tips for Parents
- Neighborhood Safety
- Safety Tips for Parents (PDF)
- Keeping Your Neighborhood Safe
School and Bus Safety
All parents of school-age children should learn and instruct their children on bus safety. While parents of children who do not ride the bus may see this as a waste of time, this is a false assumption. Children are at risk of bus-related injuries anytime they are near a bus, even as pedestrians. There are specific rules that children should obey at all times on and off school buses. These rules will help keep them safe in the event of an accident while onboard and prevent them from accidentally being struck by one.
When riding the bus, parents will want to ensure that their children arrive at least five minutes before its arrival. They should wait for it on the curb and never run, shove, or otherwise play near a bus stop. When the bus arrives, children should stand a minimum of ten feet from it at all times and in a location where they are visible to the driver. While on the bus, children should sit quietly and remain in their seats at all times. When getting off the bus, they should do so carefully, checking to ensure that there are no cars that are passing on the shoulder.
If a child needs to cross the street in front of the bus, he or she should step out far enough so that they are visible to the driver; this is typically five large steps. It is also advisable that children wait for the driver to signal for them to cross; this ensures that the driver sees them and will not begin to drive forward.
- Bus Safety Rules for Everyone
- What Really Makes School Safer?
- School Safety – Fire
- Back to School Safety Tips
Choking is a genuine threat to young children. While food is the first thing that most people think of, there are numerous potential choking hazards around the home. As a parent, it is essential to keep these dangers out of children's reach and to know what to do if a child should choke on an object. Regarding food, certain foods represent a more significant threat than others, particularly for children who are transitioning to, or who are new to solid nutrition. Common foods that have high choking risks include hard candy, popcorn, gumballs, peanuts, and raw vegetables. Certain foods such as hot dogs are also considered choking hazards when cutting into round slices.
While eating, children should never be allowed to play, run, or walk around. Parents should take the time to prepare food for their children. Pre-school age children should have their food cut up so that the pieces are not larger than half an inch. It is a good practice to be by your children when they are eating to ensure that they are chewing properly and that they are not playing or running around while eating. Other than the food, items such as buttons, batteries, balloons, coins, and marbles, are all examples of choking hazards that are found in the home. These items can easily become lodged in a child's throat and lead to death. Additionally, things such as power cords, string, and cords from window treatments can strangle and choke children as well.
If a child chokes, adults must act quickly to prevent damage from lack of oxygen to the brain. A call to 911 must be done immediately. Action must also be taken to remove the object from the child's throat. The Heimlich maneuver may be performed on children who are one year or older; however, a different technique is needed for children who are younger than a year. Place children who are younger than a year across the knees and use the hand to strike him or her five times between the shoulder blades.
- Food Safety - Choking Hazards
- The Ten Biggest Choking Hazards
- Choking Prevention for Children - Choking Injuries and Deaths are Preventable!
- Health Issues - Choking Prevention
- Strings, Cords, and Necklaces Can Strangle Infants (PDF)
When traveling, certain things must be taken into consideration depending on the method of travel and the destination. One crucial factor is the state of the child's health. Parents of children who currently have or who have recently recovered from an ear infection should consult a pediatrician before traveling by air. Additionally, a pediatrician should also be consulted when flying with an infant who has respiratory or heart problems. If traveling overseas, children should be up-to-date with their routine vaccines and additional ones may be required.
When traveling by car, bring and use a car seat, even in countries where this is not a legal requirement. When using the car seat, ensure that it is always appropriately installed in the vehicle. Older children who are under the age of thirteen should always ride in the rear seat of the car and use their seat-belts at all times. Cleanliness is also an essential factor while traveling to prevent illness. A sanitizing gel can be used in place of water and can conveniently be carried in one's purse or pocket.
Children should never be allowed to run, wander or otherwise get out of hand while traveling, regardless of the method of travel or where the family is going; this type of behavior increases the chances that he or she becomes injured or cause harm to someone else. Parents should be aware of where their children are and what they are doing at all times; this includes holding the hands of small children in crowded and unfamiliar places. For identification purposes, carrying a recent photo is also important.
- Travel Safety Tips
- Travel Safety Tips for Kids
- Traveling Safely with Infants and Children
- Child Safety: Tips for Parents – Airline Travel and Child Restraint Systems (PDF)
- On the Road Safety Tips
Water poses a common threat to small children, often resulting in death if left unsupervised. Infants and very young children can drown in amounts of water that are as low as one-inch. Often when these drownings occur, even in larger bodies of water such as pools, it is with minimal sound. A child who is submerged in water may suffer from irreversible brain damage after four minutes have passed, or even worse, they may die.
To keep children safe from the threat that water poses, clear water from buckets, keep toilet seats closed, and drain bathtubs. Don't leave small children and infants unattended when bathing them, even for a few minutes. Children as old as twelve years should never be left in pools or allowed to swim anywhere without supervision. Fencing of at least forty-eight inches should be placed around backyard pools to isolate them from the house. There should also be a self-latching door to the gate which should be left closed at all times. Other helpful safety measures for outdoor pools include gate alarms, pool covers, and pool alarms.
- Water Safety
- Water and Pool Safety
- A Parent's Guide to Water Safety
- Water Safety and Drowning Prevention
Food allergies are often unexpected, and an allergic reaction can completely take parents unaware. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, one in thirteen children who are seventeen and younger have a food allergy. An estimated ninety percent of most food allergies, according to Boston Children's Hospital, are caused by eggs, milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts. The most severe of these allergies and the ones that typically last throughout a child's life are peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, and fish. That is not to say that they are the only food allergies, however.
Parents must be aware of the signs associated with an allergic reaction. They must also be mindful that some reactions can be so severe as to cause anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis requires immediate emergency care and involves throat swelling, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and elevated heart rate. Parents who are aware of the risk of anaphylaxis may be given an epinephrine auto-injector for use in the event of an emergency. Outside of this most severe response, parents should look for signs such as hives, rash, lip, tongue or face swelling, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, wheezing, shortness or difficulty breathing, and dizziness, to name a few.
Once a child has been diagnosed with a food allergy, adjustments must be made to ensure that their child does not come into contact with it; this means checking food labels, notifying teachers, parents of friends, and carefully checking the ingredients used in foods cooked at restaurants.
- What is the Difference in a Food Allergy and Food Intolerance?
- Food Allergies facts and statistics
- Food Allergies in Children
- Kids MD Health Topic – Food Allergy
- Does Your Child Have Food Allergies?
Kids love to play outside where they have plenty of room to run, jump, enjoy the sun, or splash in the puddles. While there are plenty of ways for children to have fun, there are also plenty of ways that they can injure themselves. Adults can take steps to reduce the risk of injury by creating a safe outdoor environment. Before allowing kids to play outside look for anything that can cause harm, such as sharp objects.
If playing in the backyard where potential gardening tools are, adults should ensure that everything is properly stored. Also, any outdoor chemicals should also be removed and properly stored in a locked storage area. It is also important to be aware of any potentially poisonous plants in the yard. If small children such as infants or toddlers are playing outdoors, they should not be left unsupervised. Depending on the age of the children, parents should designate a portion of the yard for play.
Poison Prevention and Safety
Babies and small children do not recognize the threat that common household items pose. Children often stick things within their reach into their mouths, an action that can result in poisoning and death. Poisonous items can be found in nearly every room in the house. When there are small children in the home, adults should take care to place items in cupboards that are locked or beyond the reach of their kids.
When using items, parents should close them and put them where they belong immediately after use. Examples of poisonous things found in the home include, but are not limited to, cleaning products, medications, perfumes, laundry detergents, plants, alcohol, cigarettes, and craft supplies. Also, parents will need to keep the number for poison emergencies by their phones in the event of a potential incident. This number is 1-800-222-1222 and calling this number will transfer the caller to the nearest poison control center.
- Safe Kids Baltimore: Poison Prevention
- Poison Prevention Newsletter (PDF)
- Is Your Baby Safe at Home? Poison (PDF)
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