Many of us had the good fortune to grow up in a home that was as much a sanctuary as it was a residence. Some of us, unfortunately, grew up in homes that may not have been the type of environment we wanted to spend time in. Regardless of what type of home you grew up in, your children should have the opportunity to enjoy their formative years and not have to worry about the dangers of today’s society.
Not to be overly dramatic, but there are dangers that children should be aware of to ensure their safety. Teaching your children about things they can do and be aware of, to make their home environment safe is of the utmost importance. As soon as they are old enough to comprehend, I recommend educating your kids about simple home safety principles.
Here are 10 steps you can take to teach your children simple safety precautions:
1. Teach them how to lock a deadbolt
Most doors on the modern house come equipped with a deadbolt as an additional layer of security. Children should be taught how to lock and unlock a deadbolt and that all external doors should be locked whenever they are in the home. It is very important for them to have a full understanding of how the lock works so they can unlock the door in the case of an emergency and get out of the house. Practice with them until they can easily manipulate the lock at each door.
2. Teach them how to operate the security system
Are you one of those “we never arm it” families that have a security system? Or worse, your one of those families that has no security system at all? If you’re the former, all of your kids should be taught how to arm and disarm the system, as well as what actions to take should the alarm go off when they are at home. If you don’t have a home security system, check out some of the many articles we’ve written here on Fortify My House and find one that fits your budget. Home security has gotten cheap enough that there really is no reason not to have one in what many consider these dangerous times we live in. Your home insurance rates, in most instances, will also go down and having one can increase the home’s resale value.
3. Formulate an Escape Plan and practice it with your children
Most kids get used to participating in drills at school for one potential disaster or another, so why shouldn’t we practice similar drills at home? Kids should be taught what to do in case of a fire, an intruder enters the house, or any other possible out-of-the-ordinary event they may experience at home. Make sure there’s a designated meeting point outside of the house, and practice taking the safest route out of your home with your children.
4. Teach them how to use an emergency contact list
An emergency contact list should be in a prominent place in the house where every child can find it. I prefer the side of the refrigerator, as it’s somewhere that’s frequented by everyone. In case of a kitchen emergency, place another copy in the den or game room. The list should contain, at a minimum, the number of the local police station, fire department, the family doctor, each parent’s cell phone number, a trusted neighbor’s number, a trusted friend or family member’s number, and anyone else that could be contacted in case of an emergency.
5. Teach your children how to use the telephone
Best-case scenario, every child in a home should be taught how to use a telephone and how to ask for help when they get someone on the line. They should also be taught to memorize their telephone number and address as soon as they can reasonably be expected to remember those types of details.
6. Teach them to never answer the front door when home alone
If a child is at home by themselves, or just with other children, they should be taught to never answer the door. The Ring video doorbell system is a godsend for parents who, through no fault of their own, have to work outside the home causing their kids to be home by themselves at some point during the day. If the doorbell rings the system can be programmed to automatically contact a parent who can then see who is at the door and actually speak to the person as if they are in the home. Great technology for latchkey kids!
7. Teach them about bathtub safety
Kids under the age of six, should never be allowed to bathe unsupervised, and during the early years they should be supervised at all times while in a bath. They should also be taught how to test the water temperature of running water, once they reach the age where they can take baths by themselves.
8. Teach them to understand any food allergies they may have
If any of your kids have a food allergy, it’s important to teach them the dangers of their particular allergy and what type of foods they can or cannot have. With something as dangerous as say, a peanut allergy, they must know which foods are on the “permitted list” and which one’s aren’t. Bright red stickers can be placed on “unsafe” food and the child can be taught to avoid the foods with the stickers on.
9. Teach them to not climb on furniture
Severe injuries, or even death, can result from heavy furniture tipping over and crushing a child. Furniture such as large bookcases, TV’s, armoires, etc., are sometimes top heavy and can cause serious injuries. Children of all ages need to be taught that these are not things to play on.
10. Teach them the dangers of playing with window coverings
Cords from blinds, curtains and other types of window coverings are a very real strangulation hazard for you kids. If possible, purchase cordless window coverings whenever you have small children in the house and never, never, never place cribs or playpens near windows with corded window coverings.
Through a little due diligence on parent’s part, some of the hazards of a home can be minimized with just a little time and education.