Many parents believe they are doing all they can to keep their kids safe, but with safety recommendations and standards always changing, it can be hard to keep up with what’s safe and what’s not. Here we’ve gathered 100 of the most important safety rules parents should follow to keep their kids safe and out of danger’s path.
In the House
While there’s no replacement for supervision, there are things you can do to decrease the number of risks that contribute to accidents and injuries in your home. Follow these rules to increase your child’s safety while at home.
- Signup for recall alerts. Stay up-to-date on child-related product recalls by subscribing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall alerts.
- Turn the water temperature down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot water can scald children. By turning the water temperature thermostat down you can prevent scalds and burns.
- Store medications properly. Store medications out of reach and sight to prevent accidental ingestions.
- Use the right safety gates. While pressure mounted gates may work fine to keep kids confined to a room, they have no place at the top of stairs.
- Safety proof windows. Children needlessly fall out of windows each year. Be sure to add window guards or locks to your windows to be sure your child isn’t one of them.
- Choose appropriate toys. Choose age-appropriate toys to reduce the risk of injury to your child.
- Opt for a pet that is good with kids. When considering a family pet, you’ll want to be sure to select a pet whose temperament makes it kid-friendly.
- Clean toys without harsh chemicals. Clean children’s toys naturally to prevent the spread of germs and decrease risks associated with toxic cleaners.
- Store cleaners away from kids. Store toxic chemicals and cleaners out of the reach and sight of children to prevent accidental poisoning and chemical burns.
- Be sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. The proper placement of working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors can alert family members of a fire and prevent children from experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning.
Children spend a large part of their day unsupervised in their rooms sleeping. Ensure your child has a safe sleep space by following these important safety rules.
- Put babies back to sleep. Since the 1994 Back to Sleep campaign was launched, the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has been slashed in half.
- Don’t use an infant seat for routine sleep at home. The safest place for a baby to sleep is on his back in a safe sleep space that includes a firm mattress.
- Create a safe sleep space. It can be tempting to fall asleep with your baby on the couch, but you shouldn’t. Doing so poses a suffocation risk to your baby.
- Share a room at first. The first six months of his life you should keep your baby in your room, in a close but separate sleep area next to your bed.
- Avoid co-sleeping. Avoid suffocation and strangulation by providing a safe and separate sleep space for your baby.
- Position cribs away from windows. Keep your child’s crib away from windows to reduce the risk of falls and strangulation or entrapment in window blind cords and window coverings.
- Use bed rails. You can keep toddlers and young children from falling out of bed by using the appropriate bed rails.
- Opt for sleep sacks over blankets. Prevent the risk of suffocation by using sleep sacks instead of loose blankets.
- Keep the thermostat set between 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your child’s room a comfortable temperature can improve sleep and decrease the risk of SIDS.
- Don’t use drop side cribs. Since 2011, drop side cribs have been banned from the United States because they simply aren’t structurally sound.
In the Car
All parents know not to text or talk on the phone while driving, but do you know these other rules that can help increase your child’s safety and well-being while in the car? In addition to keeping the car free from loose objects that can become missiles in a crash, here are 10 other safety rules to follow.
- Use the right car seat. Be sure your child is in the right car seat for his weight and height and that the seat fits properly in your car.
- Have your car seat installation inspected. The majority of car seats are installed wrong. Be sure yours isn’t one of them.
- Use the seat properly each time. When you’re in a rush it can be tempting not to pull the harness tight enough or to skip the car seat all together. Don’t. Doing so could be a death sentence.
- Don’t allow jackets in car seats. Bulky coats and car seats are a dangerous combination.
- Know the seat belt fit test. Before moving your child to a seatbelt only, be sure he passes the test.
- Don’t offer food during car trips. The safest way for children to eat is to eat while doing nothing else. Monitoring a child who is eating in the back seat is impossible.
- Know your vehicle’s blind spots. It’s essential to know where your blind spots are so you don’t accidentally run over a small child or object.
- Don’t use aftermarket car seat accessories. Popular aftermarket products can compromise the integrity of the seat, decreasing your child’s protection.
- Don’t buy used car seats. If a car seat was in an accident it shouldn’t be used. When buying secondhand, there’s no way to know if a car seat was in an accident or not.
- Check your car seat’s expiration date. Car seats expire. After their date of expiration, the materials may be compromised.
In the Backyard
The backyard should be a safe haven for children to explore their world. To make it a whole lot safer, follow these basic safety rules.
- Use the proper surfacing under climbing structures. The proper playground surface can reduce the risk of injuries and bone fractures from falls.
- Don’t let kids be on or near lawnmowers. Each year children are brought to the emergency room for injuries sustained while riding on lawnmowers or running in front of them.
- Empty standing water. Toddlers and young children can drown in just a few inches of water. Since toddlers are top heavy, they can easily fall into things like buckets or toilets.
- Avoid combination bug sprays and sunscreens. While it may seem convenient to use an all-in-one product, don’t. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied more often than bug spray and it gets absorbed into the skin while bug spray sits on top of it.
- Be sure pools are properly fenced in. When it comes to pool safety, pool fences and locks save lives.
- Keep sandboxes covered. Sand boxes that aren’t covered can become an animal’s litter box, leaving your child to play in dirty, disgusting sand.
- Be cautious of treated wood. Treated wood can have traces of arsenic that can be dangerous to children.
- Know your plants. Some plants in your backyard could be harmful and poisonous to your kids.
- Don’t allow easy access to gas grills. Grilling can be great fun, but it can also be dangerous. Take proper precautions to ensure your child isn’t burned.
- Use caution with fertilizers and lawn chemicals. Chemical lawn fertilizers can be hazardous to the health of children.
In and Around Water
Sure, swimming can be a great way to spend the day, but it also comes with inherent risks. Minimize your child’s risk of drowning or injury by following these 10 rules when playing in and around water.
- Practice touch supervision. Regardless of skill level, children should always be closely supervised and within arm’s reach when they’re in and around water.
- Use caution with kiddie pools. Kiddie pools hold enough water for a young child to drown in, so children should be constantly supervised when they’re in and around them.
- Take wet bathing suits off as soon as possible. Young girls who wear wet bathing suits for too long after swimming are at risk for developing a yeast infection.
- Insist on water shoes. When heading to the beach, insist on water shoes. Hot sand can burn little feet and sharp seashells can cut them.
- Offer water often. Preventing dehydration is essential to keeping kids healthy during the warmer months.
- Apply sunscreen properly. Applying sunscreen properly is essential to preventing sunburn.
- Be sure pool covers are in good working order. Make sure there isn’t any space under the pool cover that children could get under and check covers regularly for pooling water.
- Insist on lifejackets. Life jackets are essential for kids who are in or around water, especially when boating.
- Only swim with lifeguards. When at the beach or lake, only swim in authorized swimming areas and where a lifeguard is present.
- Make smart outdoor ice skating choices. Before skating on a frozen pond or lake you should make sure that the pond or lake is completely frozen and that it’s been approved for skating on.
When Feeding Foods
Many parents worry about their children choking, and for good cause. Choking is not only scary, it can also be deadly. To reduce the likelihood of choking and choking related deaths, consider following these 10 rules.
- Avoid risky foods. Certain foods, like popcorn and hot dogs, are risky for young children. Avoiding these potentially hazardous foods can reduce the risk of choking.
- Have current CPR and first aid training. Armed with choke saving skills, parents who take CPR and first aid are better prepared to handle an incident should one arise.
- Enforce hand washing before and after eating. Hand washing can prevent the spread of illness and help keep kids healthy, especially during flu season.
- Recognize the signs of an allergic reaction. Parents should pay close attention when offering foods and be familiar with the signs of allergic reactions.
- Store foods properly. All leftovers and refrigerated foods aren’t created equal. Don’t mistakenly serve foods that have gone bad.
- Don’t cross contaminate. Whether it’s to prevent allergies or the spread of bacteria, cross contamination can have serious effects on your children’s health.
- Look at expiration dates. Understanding food expiration dates, what they mean and what they don’t can help ensure you avoid feeding your family foods that have gone bad.
- Don’t send babies to bed with bottles of formula or juice. Sending babies to bed with bottles full of formula or juice will do more than quench their thirst. Doing so also promotes tooth decay.
- Brush teeth 30 minutes after meals. While most parents have been conditioned by their own parents to brush right after meals, doing so can actually cause more harm than good.
- Don’t share spoons. Many moms are surprised to learn cavities are contagious. By sharing your spoon, even to show your child how good dinner really is, you’re passing germs back and forth.
Many children spend the majority of their day in daycare. Help ensure your child’s safety when you aren’t with him by following these 10 rules.
- Ask about physicals. Daycares that require children to have physicals show that they are dedicated to protecting children and their health.
- Get independent verification. Conduct your own background check or hire someone to do it for you to ensure the daycare provider is who she says she is and has the qualification to provide high quality care.
- Ask the right questions. Asking the right questions can help you choose a quality childcare provider.
- Monitor quality of care. Understand what goes on in your child’s daycare and keep close tabs to be sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to.
- Choose a licensed daycare. Licensed daycares have to undergo inspections and comply with local and state laws to stay in business. Choosing one ensures the center has some oversight.
- Look for accredited programs. Daycares that opt for voluntary accreditation go above and beyond to meet higher standards set forth by independent accreditors.
- Inspect the location regularly. Before you choose a daycare center and throughout the duration of your child’s enrollment, stop in unexpectedly and look around for any safety red flags.
- Ask about security measures. Be sure to ask about what safety measures are in place to keep your kids safe while at daycare.
- Provide updated emergency contact information and consent forms. Having consent forms and contact information readily available can ensure your child gets the best care possible if an emergency should arise at daycare.
- Stay connected. Are you involved in your child’s daycare experience? Recent studies say you should be.
You send them off and greet them when they, or you, return home, but do you really know what goes on during their day? Take action to help keep your children safe at school by following these safety rules.
- Bullyproof your kid. Don’t let your child become a bully’s next victim. Teach him effective strategies for standing up to a bully.
- Talk to kids about their day. Spending 15 minutes a day talking to your kids can help clue you into school problems.
- Be involved. Parents who are involved with their children’s school experience have better school success.
- Teach kids how to cross the bus safely. Getting to and from the bus can be more dangerous than riding it. Show your children how to board and get off the bus safely.
- Don’t let kids walk or bike to school alone. Think twice before letting your child walk or bike to school alone. Doing so could be considered neglect and put your child in harm’s way.
- Teach kids their phone number and address. Teach children their name, address and other important information so they are able to identify themselves and their parents if needed.
- Talk about stranger danger. Raise street smart kids by educating them about child predators.
- Ask the school about safety measures. Do you know how safe your child’s school is? Evaluate your child’s school security measures.
- Pay attention to Internet use. Monitor your child’s Internet use to help keep him safe online.
- Role-play situations. Role-playing with the kids can help prepare them for dangerous or uncomfortable situations.
Taking a family vacation can provide for lots of fun, but it also places your family in unfamiliar surroundings with lots of people, places and things to navigate. Prepare to keep your kids safe by following these vacation inspired safety rules.
- Use an FAA approved seat when flying. Don’t be fooled into letting your child ride on your lap or taking a non FAA approved seat to the airport with you. Keep your kids safe when flying with an FAA approved seat.
- Abide by ride regulations at theme parks. Height and weight limits on rides are established for a reason. Resist the urge to sneak your kids onto rides that they don’t qualify for.
- Don’t label kids clothes on the outside. Avoid clothing that has your child’s name it. When strangers call a child by name it can give them a false sense of security that the person knows them.
- Help your kids get help. From tucking business cards of the hotel into their pockets to writing their phone numbers on their arms, there are lots of ways to ensure your kids can get help should they become separated from you.
- Consider a preprogrammed cell phone. A preprogrammed cell phone can help your child reach you or someone who can help should they need to. It can also ensure you have quick and easy access to important contacts while traveling.
- Designate a meeting place. Establishing a dedicated meeting place can help your family members find each other if they become separated.
- Take your regular nanny with you. Having a caregiver who knows your child and family can better anticipate your child’s health and safety needs than a caregiver hired on location.
- Heed travel warnings. Whether it’s for security or weather, travel advisories are issued for your protection, so you should think carefully before ignoring them.
- Use appropriate safety gear. Whether it’s a helmet for riding a bike or a life vest for boating, be sure your children are using the appropriate safety gear on vacation excursions.
- Check immunizations. Before traveling overseas, be sure to take your children to the travel clinic to ensure he has the proper immunizations required for travel.
On the Internet
The Internet is full of useful information, but it’s also full of threats. Keep your kids safe online by following these important safety rules.
- Keep computers in public areas. When the computer is in the main areas of the home, monitoring its use is easier.
- Limit screen time. Limiting screen time limits exposure and helps keep kids healthy.
- Monitor usage. Quality and quantity of screen time are both important factors in keeping kids safe while using the Internet.
- Teach kids not to give out personal information. Kids should be taught to help keep themselves safe by teaching them to keep their personal information private.
- Keep passwords on hand. Knowing your kids passwords can help boost accountability for online activities and monitor use.
- Abide by site rules. Some sites, like Facebook, have rules that permit only users of a certain age to utilize the site. Do you follow the rules?
- Talk about anonymity. While a real world policy of using your name online is the direction some think should be established, the reality is people can post under any name and pretend to be anyone. Teach your kids this important piece of information so they know their new online teen friend may not be who he says.
- Check mobile usage. Tracking your child’s online usage from his mobile device can alert you to any security concerns.
- Set parental and security controls. Be sure your child’s security setting are up to snuff by limiting what he can see and share with the world.
- Be Facebook friends. Being your child’s Facebook friend can help keep the lines of communication open, help you to monitor his social activity, and help you get to know some of his friends.