The following blog article was penned by guest blogger Amanda Henderson of safechildren.info
Children rely on parents to ensure that they are safe in and around their homes. There are many hazards in the home, but there are also opportunities to help enable your children to make healthy decisions in their lives. In addition to doing your part as a parent to minimize risks, you can also teach good habits and decision-making processes that will benefit your kids, and your family, for years.
Make safety and planning a part of your family culture
One way to foster safety is to encourage your children to participate with you in developing a safety plan. Most organizations, even small ones, have detailed manuals and guides for all sorts of worst-case scenarios and hazards. Your family is just as important and the risks are higher, so why not follow their lead and introduce organizational skills to your children?
For any hazard in the home, such as the potential for a fire, a backyard pool accident, or other injury, you can develop a plan. There were 1.3 million house fires in 2015, resulting in 3,200 deaths, 15,000 injuries and $14.3 billion in losses. Even with these large numbers, most families seemingly rely on luck and smoke and fire detectors solely. Online templates for family fire safety plans are widely available. Follow the lead of these plans and tailor them to your family situation. These guides are especially helpful as the panic of a fire often makes simple decision-making difficult, and having a chart or map to safety, in hand, for example, might make the difference between life and death. And safety plans are helpful for everyday risks and hazards as well.
Hazards in the home
There are numerous sources of danger in the home, from risks of poisoning to serious bodily injury. Assess your home and how childproof it and its contents are. New parents often relish baby-proofing their home, zip-tying cabinets and putting outlet covers everywhere. But by the time the kids are teenagers, the covers are missing and the liquor cabinet is left accessible to all. Even the best kid whom you swear would never drink may still be a risk for experimenting with alcohol. And the risk may come from a visiting friend. Locking up alcohol is helpful, but speaking candidly with your children about the dangers of alcohol - especially accidental overdose - is essential and can become a component of your home safety plan.
The same degree of caution is necessary for medicine. Through sports injuries, children may be at risk for painkiller exposure and addiction. Keep your medication away from curious eyes and hands.
Other home hazards include handguns, kitchen implements and tools. Handguns should be locked and stored so as to limit their access by youth. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms publishes a Youth Handgun Safety Act Notice. If you are a gun owner and wish to pass responsible gun ownership practices to your children, share the information in the notice with them and incorporate the information into your home-safety plan.
For other objects that might present a danger. Teach your kids how to properly use those that are age-appropriate. For example, have your children help you prepare meals and learn basic kitchen knife skills.
Through assessing and planning, families can reduce risks at home, while teaching skills and the ability to plan and make decisions.
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