The great philosopher Eeyore sagely said of accidents, “You’re never having them until you’re having them,” and Eeyore’s friend Tigger was colored day-glow orange as a safety precaution. Protect both your little and your big kids by routinely patrolling your happy home with an eye for hazards of all kinds. When you patrol, look and think like a kid, but respond like a responsible parent.
If You Must Obsess, Obsess Over Child Safety.
Your biggest child-safety hazards lurk in some of your home’s tiniest spaces so that you must survey your home from your toddler’s point of view. Close up inviting hide-outs around and behind big appliances. Double-check child-safety locks on the cupboards, and move all toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds well out of reach. Make sure little Dick cannot sneak into the garage where dad works with all those cool tools, and make equally sure little Jane cannot grab hold of a hot curling iron or other dangerous tool of an aesthetician’s trade. If it sparkles, dazzles or entices, protect it from your kids and your kids from it. Most of all, relentlessly watch and listen to your children, remembering too quiet is just as ominous as too loud. Nothing takes precedence over watching little Dick and Jane.
• Control Electrical Hazards. You probably got outlet covers as a baby-shower gift, and you installed them long before your first child’s birth. As the kids have grown older and the furniture has moved around, though, many of those outlet covers may have disappeared into the same place the missing socks go. Replace them. Then, invest in some cable ties and electrical hardware, cleaning-up those spaghetti-like tangles at your most convenient outlets.
• Control Chemical Hazards. Got ipecac syrup? When a warning label says “induce vomiting,” ipecac is the stuff that does the inducing. Remember to keep poison control numbers near the phones and on your smartphone’s speed dial. Then, systematically and deliberately go through your house checking for deadly but delectable-looking liquids—dishsoap, for example, looks and smells delicious.
Your teenagers will tell you that bath beads and bath salts are hallucinogenic and potentially fatal–hard to believe, but very true. Some of your prescription medications look just like Tic-Tacs; keep them well out of toddlers’ reach. Most of all, keep the kids’ own medicines well out of their reach, because they understand those magic potions are supposed to make them feel better and they will guzzle or gobble them in a heartbeat.
• Eliminate Slip-and-Fall Hazards. Kids naturally love all the most dangerous places in your home—the bathtub, for example. Make sure eager bathers will not fall, equipping tubs and showers with handrails and non-slip strips or pads. Tile floors also get wet and slippery during bath and shower time, and decorative throw-rugs aggravate the hazards. Add non-skid adhesive strips or coat the floor with a non-skid sealer. Take similar precautions around stairs, restricting toddler access and adding toddler size handrails as needed. If you live in a place where it snows and freezes, keep your entryways from becoming wintertime slip-and-slides, texturizing their surfaces and keeping them clear and dry.
• “Hell on Wheels” Wears a Helmet. Whenever the kids ride their bikes, scooters, skateboards or other speed-wheeled craft, make sure they wear their helmets, adding elbow and knee protection as needed. First and most importantly, the law requires kids to don their personal protective equipment. Second, your sanity depends in large part on minimizing trips to the ER. You can treat a little road rash; major injuries, not so much.
• Prepare for Emergencies. Remember to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors whenever you go “spring forward” or “fall back” on your clocks. Keep in mind, though, the really cool moms have replaced their old-fashioned battery powered detectors with solar-photo-voltaic alarms, making battery changes “just so last century.” Have a reliable battery or solar-powered weather radio ready for emergency use at all times, and use it during weather alerts or power failures. Then, build the family’s three-day survival kit, outfitting the crew with everything they need to sustain themselves and stay amused when you get cut-off from the outside world. The American Red Cross has all the details for building great survival kits, and your local 99-cent store provides almost everything you need.
Make Home the Kids’ Castle.
In other words, make home absolutely impenetrable; protect against real life villains and virtual intruders. In the United States, a home beak-in happens every fourteen seconds. Veteran Chicago Prosecutor Shauna Boliker cautions, although the average burglar is every bit as dumb as the bad guys in Home Alone, intruders are prone to violence—especially when they panic. Local district attorneys and law enforcement officials very strongly recommend installing wireless whole-home security systems that link to smartphones. You can operate these systems from anywhere on earth, and you can view your home any time with their high-resolution surveillance cameras.
Of course, a slightly used dog adopted from a shelter with a loud bark can be an excellent deterrent as well as great addition to any family. Colorado Springs police officer Brett Dollar advises, “Take the same precautions in cyber space that you take in your home. The majority of child predators meet their victims online, where they have perfected the art of making themselves seem friendly and perfectly harmless.”
Brandi Bradley is a full-time freelance writer in Seattle. She recommends www.securitysystems.net as a great resource for researching security systems for your home.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to maintain safety in the home.
Image courtesy of videocrab via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.