You have gates on your stairs, child proof covers on your doors, latches on your cabinets, etc., and you feel comfortable that your kids are about as safe as they can be when they are at home...
All of that preparation to keep your kids safe can fall apart when you have visitors at your home though.
Visitors may forget to close gates, leave sharp items or breakables in your child's reach, and most importantly, forget to shut doors.
And if you have a lot of visitors, like at a party, it can be easy to think that the kids are safe, since there are so many adults around. However, instead of making your kids safer, having a lot of extra people around may actually put your kids more at risk. In addition to the confusion of having a lot of people around, the breakdown in your usual safety plans can put your kids at great risk.
Consider these all too common tragedies that highlight how important it is to think about child safety at all times:
- a toddler drowns in the shallow end of a pool, while everyone else is playing in the deep end at a pool party
- a child wanders away from a birthday party and drowns in a neighbor's pool
- a preschooler drowns in a pond in the backyard of a friend's backyard pond during a friendly visit
- your child discovers a neighbor's unlocked gun and shoots his best friend
- a toddler gets out of the house through an open door and is run over by someone backing out of the driveway
- To keep your kids safe in these types of special special situations, it can help to have a:
- safety plan in place. This might be as simple as reminding people to close doors and gates, replace cabinet locks and latches, and not leave things around that younger kids can get to, like breakable glasses, alcoholic beverages, or sharp objects.
- designated person who is supposed to watch the children. This might seem silly when you have a lot of adults around, but unless someone has the specific job of watching the children, everyone might assume that someone else is doing it and you can easily lose track of a younger child. And like a designated driver, this 'supervisor' should not drink alcohol and should not leave the children unattended, even for a few moments.
- discussion about any possible hazards that may harm the children. These types of hazards might include a pool, pond, or other body of water that younger children might drown in, unlocked guns, and doors or rooms that aren't childproofed. These hazards should also likely be the first place you look for a missing child, after calling 911.
- Taking layers of protection approach when childproofing your home can also help protect your kids in special situations. For example, in addition to a childproof lock on the door to your backyard, put up a fence around your pool so that even if a child does out of the house, he can't get to the pool.
So think about your child' safety, first and always. Remember that you may not be lucky enough to get a second chance if your child gets hurt.