Updated: Nov 26, 2021
National Child safety month is meant to promote awareness of many dangers that children face each day, this can include accidental poisoning, being hurt while outdoors alone, or accidental drowning. Being aware of any potential dangers, discussing with other family members who watch your child, and your chilren themselves, can go a long way torward promoting safety for our little ones. This is also a great time to discuss emergency preparedness.
According to Encompass, "November is National Child Safety and Protection Month. Now is an excellent time to review some smart tips to help make sure your home and your vehicles remain safe places for your loved ones."
Keep Cleaning Products and Chemicals Out of Reach.
You know how little kids are, they want to eat everything. That makes it very important to keep cleaning products up out of reach of small children, or in a locked cupboard.
According to the Children's Bureau, "Thousands of children are treated or hospitalized each year because of accidental poisonings within their own homes. The CDC found that children between the ages of 1 to 4 years had the highest rates of poisoning." These little children don't know that some products may be dangerous, and need to be watched closely.
I know one year, my oldest was given nail polish for Christmas by a well meaning relative when she was much too young. Fast forward to the car ride home, and she put it all over her lips thinking it was lip gloss. I called the poison center, and luckily it ended up being non-toxic, but I only had my back turned so I could drive home, and that was all the time it took for her to get into something.
Some other tips from the Children's Bureau include:
Purchase over-the-counter and prescription medicines with childproof caps. Keep them on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet, not on your bedside table.
Keep vitamins and minerals such as iron out of reach. They can be hazardous, even fatal, to children.
Never use food containers to store nonfood substances.
Program the contact number for Poison Control in your phone to use in the case of accidental poisoning.
Having any emergency numbers easy accessable is especially important. My doctor's office gives us refrigerator magnets with all of the emergency numbers. This can be very helpful so you aren't having to search for a number to call in an emergency situation.
Small children are forever putting things in their mouths, even things that shouldn't be in their mouth. Because of this, it is important to baby proof your house early, and make sure that anything is out of their reach that could be a possible choking hazard.
This would include any toys with small pieces, like legos or marbles. Also, any household items that are small enough to put into a child's mouth, but big enough that they would be able to choke on them. Coins would be an example.
Also, it is important not to give babies or toddlers foods that they would be able to choke on. This would include popcorn, nuts, or hard candy. All of these can be a choking danger if not chewed correctly, and many little kids have a tendency to swallow things without chewing very well.
Here are some additional tips from The Mayo Clinic, "To prevent infant choking:
Properly time the introduction of solid foods. Introducing your baby to solid foods before he or she has the motor skills to swallow them can lead to infant choking. Wait until your baby is at least 4 months old to introduce pureed solid foods.
Don't offer high-risk foods. Don't give babies or young children hot dogs, chunks of meat or cheese, grapes, raw vegetables, or fruit chunks, unless they're cut up into small pieces. Don't give babies or young children hard foods, such as seeds, nuts, popcorn and hard candy, which can't be changed to make them safe options. Other high-risk foods include peanut butter, marshmallows and chewing gum.
Supervise mealtime. As your child gets older, don't allow him or her to play, walk or run while eating. Remind your child to chew and swallow his or her food before talking. Don't allow your child to throw food in the air and catch it in his or her mouth or stuff large amounts of food in his or her mouth.
Carefully evaluate your child's toys. Don't allow your baby or toddler to play with latex balloons — which pose a hazard when uninflated and broken — small balls, marbles, toys that contain small parts or toys meant for older children. Look for age guidelines when buying toys and regularly examine toys to make sure they're in good condition.
Keep hazardous objects out of reach. Common household items that might pose a choking hazard include coins, button batteries, dice and pen caps."
Remember, these tips will come in handy until your child has learned to stop picking things up and putting them in their mouths. This will typically be around age 3-4 depending on the child.
Outdoor safety can be very important, because there are potentially hazardous items lying around such as garden tools, a gate may be left accidentally unlocked, or a strange animal could get into the yard. It is also important to teach kids like the importance of never going into the street.
Especially with small children, they should always be supervised to prevent accidents from happening while they are doing something potentially dangerous.
It is also a good idea to check your yard on a regular basis for anything dangerous, like wasps nests, sharp rocks, etc. That way your child won't get an injury in the yard from something left lying around.
If you do any construction or gardening, you should also make sure that all of the tools are picked up, and that there aren't any nails or pieces of wood with splinters left lying around.
Some other tips from the Children's Bureau are:
When using tricycles, bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, and ride-on toys, ensure that children of all ages are wearing a helmet to prevent head injury.
Always use safety straps to secure children in strollers, and do not put children who cannot sit up well in wagons that have low sides.
Teach children not to play near the street.
Explain that children must ask for help if toys roll into the street or driveway.
It is best for children to know that they need to stay back from the street, because a car may not see them. This can be especially true if you live near a busy road where cars are going fast. If you take walks to the park and such, you can teach them to stop, hold your hand, and look both ways before crossing. My 4 year old has learned this so well that now she stops ME before we get to the corner.
Also, it is a good idea to teach kids not to try to pet strange animals. You wouldn't want them walking up to a mean dog, or trying to pet a skunk! If you teach them that across the board it is not a good idea to pet wild animals, or animals that aren't their own, then it will serve them well in the long run. Better to be on the safe side!
Accidental drowning can also be a danger, especially for very small kids, or those who don't know how to swim. When we used to go to the rec center, there was a recommendation that anyone who couldn't swim needed to be within 5 feet of an adult. That way, if there was any type of danger, the parent can get there in time to help them.
There are stories in the news every year about children drowning at community swimming pools while left unsupervised for short amounts of time. If you do need to get out of the pool for some reason, make sure to take them with you or leave them with a family member or friend who agrees to supervise them while you are gone. Just knowing that a lifeguard is present, or that there are alot of other people there is really not sufficient. Someone should always be actively supervising a child in the pool.
Most community swimming pools are required to have a life guard present, however many pools at private clubs or apartment complexes do not have this requirement. In places where there is no lifeguard, it is even more important to keep careful track of your child at all times.
I would also personally recommend starting your child in swimming lessons as soon as possible. Both of my girls started swimming lessons at 6 months old, and are good swimmers now, so that I don't have to worry about drowning as much.
If you go to swim at lakes, rivers or streams, it is important to check how deep the water is, and how fast it is moving prior to letting a child of any age go into the water. This is a critical step to ensure that they don't get pulled away by a current. Also, if you are swimming somewhere besides a pool, it is a good idea to have your child wear water shoes, so that they aren't going to cut their feet on sharp rocks that may be present.
The Red Cross provides a series of fun water safety videos for kids, so that they can learn how to be safe while swimming. They also offer safety certifications for parents if you are interested in learning more.
Car Seat Safety
When you are traveling with your kids, you always want to be sure that you have their carseat installed correctly, and that they are buckled in with a 5 point harness if possible. Children should ride in a car seat or booster that is appropriate for their height and weight until age 12. If possible, install the carseat in the middle of the back seat, so that your child will be the most protected in the event of a crash.
According to the US Department of Transportation, here are some important things to consider when using your car seat:
Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, then choose a seat that fits in your vehicle, and use it every time.
Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions (check height and weight limits) and read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.
To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
If you are unsure if your child's carseat has been installed correctly, there places in the community where you can go to have a safety check done, prior to having your child ride in the seat. You can do this if you have a new baby, or if you purchase a new carseat. To find a location where you can get your carseat checked, click here and then type in your zipcode.
When I was a first-time mom, I had my carseat checked at our local fire station, prior to my child's birth. The hospital workers also came out to the car when I was released to see that my baby was put safely into her carseat for the first time. Taking advantage of these resources can be especially important for new parents.
Take Child CPR and First Aid Classes.
Taking an infant and child CPR class, as well as first aid classes can teach you how to respond to an emergency involving your child. Many local fire stations and community agencies will have these types of programs available for parents. Educating yourself can go a long way toward preventing accidents, and knowing how to respond in the event that one occurs.
When I was pregnant with both of my kids, I took a child and infant CPR class, so that I would be prepared in the event of an emergency. I also took a child safety class when I was pregnant with my oldest. I was able to sign up for these at the same time as my childbirth class, and take the classes at the same location in the hospital. Local fire stations and recreation centers in our area also offer CPR classes.
If you want to look for a CPR class in your area, you can take a class in the US with the Red Cross. You just need to click here and type in your zip code to find a location near you. The Red Cross also offers additional babysitting and childcare classes if you wish to take one yourself, or to have an older child who may be caring for siblings take a class.
National Child Safety Month is a great time to learn more about ways that you can keep your child safe in everyday situations. You can also share this information with friends who have kids, teens who babysit, and other family members or friends with whom your child spends time. That way, you can help to ensure that your child is always safe, and raise awareness about child safety in the community!
For more information about National Child Safety Month, you can visit the Children's Bureau official site. You will find more information, resources to read with your kids, and ways to get involved in raising awareness.
Let me know in the comments what you think, and if there are additional topics related to child safety that you would like me to cover in the future!