By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.
This month’s column will focus on child safety. Many situations that children can get into may result in an injury. Prevention and close monitoring of your child is the key to reducing injuries.
Checking that playgrounds have soft material under them such as wood chips, sand, or mulch.
Reading playground signs and using playground equipment that is right for your child’s age.
Making sure there are guardrails in good condition to help prevent falls.
Looking out for things in the play area that can trip your child, like tree stumps or rocks.
Install and maintain smoke alarms in your home—on every floor and near all rooms family members sleep in. Test your smoke alarms once a month to make sure they are working properly.
Create and practice a family fire escape plan, and involve kids in the planning. Make sure everyone knows at least two ways out of every room and identify a central meeting place outside.
Use safe cooking practices, such as never leaving food unattended on the stove. Also, supervise or restrict children’s use of stoves, ovens, and especially microwaves.
Set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Infants and small children may not be able to get away from water that may be too hot, and maintaining a constant thermostat setting can help control the water temperature throughout your home—preventing it from getting too high. Test the water at the tap if possible.
Use home safety devices, such as guards on windows that are above ground level, stair gates, and guard rails. These devices can help keep a busy, active child from taking a dangerous tumble.
Supervise young children at all times around fall hazards, such as stairs and playground equipment, whether you’re at home or out to play.
When children are active in sports and recreation, make sure they use the right protective gear for their activity, such as helmets, wrist guards, knee or elbow pads.
Be sure that sports protective equipment is in good condition, fits appropriately and is worn correctly all the time—for example, avoid missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding. Poorly fitting equipment may be uncomfortable and may not offer the best protection.
Have children learn and practice skills they need in their activity. For example, knowing how to tackle safely is important in preventing injuries in football and soccer. Have children practice proper form – this can prevent injuries during baseball, softball, and many other activities. Also, be sure to safely and slowly increase activities to improve physical fitness; being in good condition can protect kids from injury.
Allow time for child athletes to gradually adjust to hot or humid environments to prevent heat-related injuries or illness. Parents and coaches should pay close attention to make sure that players are hydrated and appropriately dressed.
Communicate positive safety messages and serve as a model of safe behavior, including wearing a helmet and following the rules.
Keep medicines and toxic products, such as cleaning solutions and detergent pods, in their original packaging where children can’t see or get them.
Put the nationwide poison control center phone number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every telephone in your home and program it into your cell phone. Call the poison control center if you think a child has been poisoned but they are awake and alert; they can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and your child has collapsed or is not breathing.
Follow label directions carefully and read all warnings when giving medicines to children.
Safely dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs and over the counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements. To dispose of medicines, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw them away. You can also turn them in at a local take-back program or during National Drug Take-Back events.
Road Traffic Safety
Install and use car seats and booster seats according to the seat’s owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. (Smithfield Police Department has Child Seat Technicians)
Buckle all children aged 12 and under in the back seat.
Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an air bag.
Buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.
Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip, no matter how short.
Set a good example by always using a seat belt themselves