Safety is often not a concern until something happens in your home, but that is not a wise approach to home as lack of planning can have disastrous consequences. Not only do you want to keep your children and family safe in case of an emergency, but you also want to minimize the risk of those emergencies occurring.
Make sure that all locks are in good working order. Locks on gates and storage sheds should be difficult to remove for children and offer security against intruders. Updating or changing locks regularly is recommended. This does not mean yearly, but as locks begin to show signs of wear, changing them can help keep your home secure.
With children this is particularly important, as it is much more difficult to secure your home with children. Let them know whom they may allow inside and when to answer doors and telephones; teach them not to quickly trust strangers.
Also, teach them which behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not. Children should be comfortable reporting dangerous or unacceptable adult behaviors. Discuss these procedures with children from a young age.
Ensure medical information and physician contact details are easy to locate. A family binder is a good idea. This binder can have background/history on each family member and a list of doctors, pharmacies, and facilities that you usually use. Keep medications in a secure location. Children should not be able to access these without parental assistance.
Lock up any toxins! Cleaners, automotive fluids, and household chemicals should always be inaccessible to children. Many household cleaners and chemicals smell appealing, and some have no taste. These can be fatal for children since they do not always know not to play with them. Keeping locks on cabinets and garage access restricted can mean the difference between life and death for a small child.
Keep Potential Weapons Secured
This suggestion may seem like common sense, but people do not always think about things that may be used as weapons such as kitchen knives, razor blades, and baseball bats and these can be very dangerous around children.
This does not mean you should lock up everything in your house because it can be used as a weapon, but children do not always see the danger in things. Razor blades should be stored out of immediate reach. Knife blocks may need to be stored in high cabinets while children are young to prevent access. Once children understand the safety and use requirements, they can be stored on the counter again.
Do not leave children alone with pets. This is especially true for toddlers and small children as they do not always realize how hard they tug or pull on an animal. The animal, in turn, does not always know how to react appropriately. Pets will try to protect themselves and may attack a child. As children get older, this may be less of a problem, but even if you think you know your pet, do not leave him or her alone with a child.
Keep areas free of clutter and fire hazards should be minimized. Do not store flammable chemicals in places that may be exposed to sparks or flames and be sure to have appropriate fire extinguishers available in your home. Be sure that the extinguisher is designed for the room you store it in as well. Teach children fire safety, including stuff like not using wet or frayed cords and other basic information. Consider contacting your local fire department to see if there are any resources they recommend for your children.
Make sure that your children know how to contact trusted people in an emergency. By having emergency phone numbers posted where everyone can find them. Do not expect them to remember everything in an emergency. This template from Ready.gov can be easily used or adapted to meet your family’s needs.
Kitchen & Bathrooms
In addition to sharp objects and chemicals, bathrooms and kitchens have many potential dangers. Be sure that bathroom floors have rugs and tubs have non-skid surfaces. Keep a lock on water faucets if children can potentially turn them on and off. When possible, keep doors and access points closed off from small children. Gates and barriers can be used to keep toddlers away from dangerous spaces. Stove knobs and oven locks are also essential.
Be sure that you keep your home well lit. Dark stairs and driveways can be dangerous, especially at night. Consider installing a security light or solar lights to light outdoor pathways and place lights in hallways and on stairs inside.
This list is a condensed version of what you should be doing in your home. You can find more information on keeping your children and family safe by talking to your local fire department, police department, or family doctor. These people are trained to help in an emergency, and many know what potential risks are hiding in homes and yards.
What safety precautions did we skip? Let us know what you do to keep your family safe.
Author: Elizabeth Shields
Elizabeth Shields is co-owner of HappyCleans house cleaning company in Oklahoma City. She is passionate about small business, the environment, and healthy eating.