Keeping your kids safe is top of mind for everyone! There is so much to pay attention to and do! This list is incomplete in the long run, but I hope it gives you some easy, effective practices to put in place.
Set-up your safety methods and get back to having fun.
Baby Proof Your Home
This one sounds obvious but I have met plenty of parents who felt like it was too early to baby proof their homes properly and then all of sudden, their baby is crawling, cruising, walking, and reaching! Development happens before you know it. Give yourself time to properly baby proof things like dressers, cabinets, drawers, door and stairs. This is especially important for heavy things that can tip (like floor mirrors, dressers or shelving units), places that house items that can poison (like laundry detergent, batteries, soaps, cleaning supplies and medications), or otherwise cause serious injury or havoc (like exterior doors to busy roads or water, staircases, access to crawl spaces, electrical outlets and more). Baby proofing properly makes life at home smoother, safer and happier day-to-day.
Remove Items of Danger
One of the easiest baby proofing methods is ‘elimination’ (verse proofing or fastening). Removing things permanently from your home (like big shelving units that can tip over, or pictures frames with glass located in low places), or at least eliminating items from accessible areas (like medications, chokeable items, sharp objects, potential poisons) is a simple, relieving technique.
If you are going to be venturing to busy, crowded places, consider getting “safety tats” for your children with your name and mobile number. No one aims to lose their kid in a crowded mall or take their eyes off a speedy toddler, but it happens. Everyday. SafetyTats will not keep them from all harms but it could help quickly solve a lost child problem at a busy museum!
Make Safety Cards
In our diaper bag and attached to our car seats are “safety cards.” The diaper bag cards list each parent’s first name and mobile number (and children’s allergies). Our carseat cards are more in-depth, listing the name, dates of birth, allergies of each child (on their respective car seat) and contact information of both parents and doctor’s numbers. If you are ever in an accident where police or paramedics (god forbid) cannot speak to you, or your children are with a caregiver who has been in a serious accident, these cards are meant to get the professionals at the scene some quick and vital information.
Last year, we were at the playground and a nanny passed out and hit her head (hard!) on the pavement. Everyone rushed to her aid immediately and ambulance was called. However, the infant she was caring for was in limbo. No one at the park knew her parent’s names or phone numbers or where she lived. The nanny had been walking around the neighborhood, so didn’t have her own wallet with her. The child ended up in Child Protective Custody until the parents could be reach about an hour or two later. This one really hit home for me!
Creating safety cards was super easy, I just used plain old index cards and printed our information on pieces of paper and taped/glued the paper to the index cards. I taped the index cards on the car seats and stuck the others in our two diaper bags. Voilà!
Have Safety Protocol
Create a protocol in your household that everyone understands. What are the rules for safety? Where are the fire extinguishers located? Do you have an emergency ladder? Is there an emergency pack? Who (local) should your caregiver call first (other than 911 and you) for help? Is there a safety meeting place nearby? Should you/they drive or stroller away from a drastic event at the home? Do all the adults have access to a car and car seats? When should you/they administer medicine like an Epipen or Benadryl? Do you/they know when and how to perform CRP?
Create your Safety Protocol and place it on your fridge or any other high-volume location relevant for your children. Go over the protocol with your spouse, family members and caregivers.
Post & Save Accessible Information
Everyone who takes care of your children should know the same safety protocol. If you have not already, write down a list of doctors, the closest ER, the names and numbers of neighbors, friends and family who can help in an emergency, local police, and your children’s allergies. You should have a ‘safe meeting place’ listed here too – a place your caregivers (whether it is a nanny, babysitter, grandma or grandpa) can go in a true emergency and cellular service may not be available (like an earthquake that crumbles your home to the ground).
The top of this list should read “In a true, urgent emergency CALL 9-1-1-” – let’s not mess around here!
Numbers for doctors, emergency rooms, local fire or police should be listed in your phone, your spouses phone and each and every one of your caregivers phones.
Ensure you and your spouse have taken CRP or any other relevant safety programming available in your area. If you cannot afford a private class, look for hospitals or fire stations that offer free programming – many do! Check out the Red Cross and Youtube for expert advice and vital trainings for infant and toddler safety. Offer training (such as online course or in-person sessions) to permanent caregivers – pay them for their time as necessary.
If your children are old enough to understand basic safety precautions – go over them regularly. There is a lot to know and understand but you can stick as high-level as you want and build on that foundation over time. Teach about staying safe around water, near cars, “stranger danger” and what they should do if they are in any particular emergency situation. Ensure you review the teaching with them on a normal basis. Be considerate of their age, and capacity to understand and digest both the concept and the actions to go along with it.
Whether your child is old enough for a mobile phone, a trackable watch, or just small enough to keep close in a baby carrier – use what works well for your family. I no longer blind an eye at the parents with their kids on backpack leashes, or strapped into their stroller even when they are fighting for their life to get free – keeping them secure and safe in certain situations (whether they like it or not) is the best we can do.
There are tons of tools at our disposable, alarms for our houses, alarm sensors for exterior doors, baby proofing everything, watches and other devices for location tracking, Nest cameras for visual monitoring from anywhere, water emergency alarms for pools, door bells with monitoring, and more. Add blinking lights to bikes and helmets. Wear bright clothing when out at dawn and dusk. Do your research and implement the tools that work best for you and your family’s needs.
Know Your Stuff
Know your products. Whether it is a baby bouncer or a swing, a stroller, new car seat or bike – know how it works, how it is put together or taken apart, it’s strengths and weaknesses. Read the safety instructions that came with your products and sign-up online for all the recall notices. That is honestly so easy, but so many of us skip it. Recall notices come in more handy than you think!
Whether you decide to use nextdoor, ring, patch, facebook, set google alerts for certain key words (like your town’s name!) or simply watch local news – stay up to date with neighborhood happenings and safety alerts on a regular basis. Getting information quickly about a break-in, a car accident, a wild animal at the park – will help you make safety decisions when applicable.
Rules are Rules
Stick to the house rules and don’t let things slide. Your spouse, kids and caregivers (and you!) truly need to stick to the safety rules and best practices you set forth for your family. Crossing the street holding hands in not a choice, for instance. Ensuring your children are safe and well taken care of is number one. Let go of any caregivers who make questionable choices (or big mistakes!), regularly assess your daycare protocols and practices, and ensure family members and friends who help out are well versed in all of the above.