Tag Archives: Safety

Security From Home To Home

a bank vault door and handlesI’m reminded every time I watch someone else’s kids that they live with a different set of rules, the way in which things are done is different, and the flow of routines have a life of their own.  I realize children are adaptable and resilient, but they are children none-the-less and their sense of security is very important.

Our boys have learned oh-so-well how hubby and I run the household, which includes but not limited to washing their hands when coming in from outside, picking up after themselves in regards to toys and little messes, leaving their shoes in the mud room especially since we live on a farm, putting play clothes on for outdoor play or when helping Dad with the farm animals, and the list goes on.  When other kids visit I’m reminded every time how well trained and respectful our boys are in regards to the way we run the house.

At the end of last week I watched my cousin’s kids, who are 7 and 2 1/2 years old, for a couple of days.  Yes, my hands were full with 5 boys and busy with the needs of all, but I’m also especially aware of my 2nd cousins being away from their parents and living under another roof with different rules and expectations. With that realization I’m doing my best to explain my requests, and listen to their needs.

They live in an inner city area where playing outside isn’t common due to being close to the road and not having much of a yard, and now they’re on a farm with plenty of room to run and 3 other playmates ready to play.  Due to the living environment they’re use to and their age difference the older one is use to playing by himself when his little brother goes down for a nap, and he stayed inside and did the exact same thing here even though other playmates were around.

What was also apparent to me was the different sounds in the house since there were two more monkeys running around.  Sounds such as the force of a door being closed, a cry that I’m not use to hearing, or another snoring sound over the monitor after the boys were in bed.

Yes, the environment is different for those visiting, and we as hosts welcome the different sounds no matter what they are, but the bottom line is that visitors are welcome with open arms and we hope they enjoy there time here when they do.

by City Chic On A Farm

Photo graciously provided by Anonymous Account, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Car Seat Safety

a toddler asleep in a very unsafe looking car seat from 1961I’m slightly obsessed with car seat safety.  It comes from the scars of my work as an EMT through college.  I volunteered in two rural towns, and though one of those towns was big enough to have almost 1500 Ambulance calls a year, that’s not even close to what paid EMS personnel in big cities witness daily.  However, I did see some pretty horrible stuff and some of these images are hard to shake.  Naturally, those memories have new meaning as a parent.

This morning I read an article about Britax (my personal favorite car seat manufacturer) releasing a new line that will redefine their brand.  The line is due out at the end of August and you can pre-order their new seats through most online retailers as early as today. I research car seats constantly — and not just via online reviews on the manufacturer or retailers websites –  I take my friend’s experiences into consideration.  I want to know two things: the safety ratings and ease of use.  Price point, while important, isn’t the first thing I look into.

I know how to install a car seat.  I watch the videos.  I read the manual.  I’m well aware of the how-to’s, but that little voice in my head always pipes up, “What if I did it wrong?  What if something I did could make a difference in a crash?”

I’ve had car seats in my car since long before I had my own kids.  The youngest of four siblings, I always had nieces and nephews to cart around.  I always made sure the car seats were installed by a certified technician and were seats with good ratings.  When I found out that to become a certified child safety seat technician it took logging roughly 40-hours of classroom time, I was completely shocked.  However, hearing that only validated my will to have the car seats professionally installed.

If you’re in the market for a new car seat, this site (which corresponds with this book has some pretty amazing reviews and ratings when it comes to car seats and other baby gear.  The book was a bible for me when researching the gear I wanted to purchase for our first child. I highly recommend it for anyone expecting their first or their second.  We’re expecting our second this fall and on my list of Baby Prep To Do’s lies a bullet dedicated to this book and checking to see if any of our only two-years-young baby gear has been recalled.

Every state (and country) has unique laws when it comes to children and car seats.  Here in Connecticut, children are required to be in some kind of restraint until they are 6-years old and at least 60 lbs.  Check on your states website for the latest information where you live.

If you already have and love your current car seat, here are some quick tips that can help to make sure your child is secured safely.

  • The seat should not move more than a half-inch in either direction when shaken at the base; in fact, the entire car should move when you shake the seat
  • The straps should be free of all twists
  • The chest buckle should be at nipple or armpit height
  • Straps should be tight enough that only one finger can slip between the strap and the child’s shoulder
  • Shoulder straps should be at or just below the shoulder for rear-facing infants and at or just above the shoulder for forward facing kids (remember, rear-facing for as long as possible is best!)
  • Avoid strapping your child into their seat while they’re wearing a winter coat or snowsuit.

The last bullet is tough.  I live in New England where it gets quite cold during the winter months and I hate that last bullet.  However, strapping a kid into a car seat in a big coat will change the points of restraint.  In a head-on crash the child can be forced forward further than they would without a jacket causing a whipping motion of the head and potentially causing a neck injury.  I keep a heavy blanket in the car and cover my daughter after she’s strapped in wearing only what she’d be wearing if we were inside.  Some people recommend putting the child’s arms back through the jacket arm holes after the child is secured so the jacket acts like a blanket.  The jacket-on, jacket-off, jacket-on routine is painful. But you just never know how much those extra minutes could be worth.

I recommend to all parents I meet that they look up a certified child seat safety technician in their town or city and make an appointment to have their seats installed or, if it’s already installed, have it checked.  The best place to start is the local police department and/or fire department.  Sometimes pre-schools or local businesses (like Walmart or Babies R Us) will have a bulletin board with community events that will list Safety Seat Checkpoints.  It takes just a few minutes to have your seat checked by a professional.  It might be the most valuable few minutes you ever spend.

by Pocklock


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Photo graciously provided by Geek2Nurse, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Summer Freedom and Risks

inside view of Devetashka CaveThe Summer Holidays will begin here next weekend! I’ve got a house full of excited boys, who all have plans of their own and want to get out and DO stuff. Some of them have reached the age where they can head off to the beach or the park, or ride to the store for snacks, or go visiting friends nearby… and I am pretty terrified, I can tell you! My eldest son already rides to school and back, but the thought of them wandering without aim, perhaps from the park to a friend’s house to… who knows where? Yikes.

I’ve always raised the boys slightly ‘Free-Range’. We lived in a pretty safe area, with a huge backyard. I reminded them to keep an eye out for one another. And I always encouraged them to chat with strangers when we were out together, so that they could learn to tell the difference between ‘A Stranger’ and ‘Someone Who Acts Strangely’. When they were little, we discussed how some people are just bad and wrong, and it’s great to yell for help if you feel worried or scared. We looked at pictures of harmful animals, and said “Ooooh, I wouldn’t touch a scorpion, they sting!” I taught everyone to swim very young, in case they fell into a pond (which they did) and told them NEVER to swim without a grownup (which they didn’t, because my Rules are Few but Absolute). I let them run too fast and fall out of small trees, for an introduction into minor injuries. They learned to be careful as a result!

So, I’ve never been overly concerned about Summer Holiday Freedom… until now. We have left our safe, dead-end road, peaceful village in rural Trinidad, and now we live in an English seaside town. Everything is new and different here, and telling the strangers from the strange can be a challenge, even for me.

Kids often get into trouble when a family moves home. The stress and activity of moving can make parents less vigilant, new threats may not be noticed. We have settled in with little incident, but I feel that the holiday will test us. The boys are used to lots of freedom, especially on long holidays, and making them stay at home will be hard on everyone! I’m trying to think ahead, and find ways of helping everyone stay safe… short of wrapping them in bubble wrap and parking them in front of the TV. I’ve come up with a few panicky possibilities, and ideas to improve safety…

There’s a risk of bike accident: Wearing helmets at all times, and remembering that not all drivers are sober and alert may increase bike safety. I will keep lecturing road safety till the boys are sick of it.

There’s a risk of Bad People: In May, a couple of paedophiles were busted a few miles from here: I completely freaked out, of course. I am sure that the police didn’t get the whole gang and that remaining members will be more cunning and vile than they were before. I am planning a proper ‘Talk’, and arming myself with facts. My youngest son is eight, and will want to go where his brothers go. I am seriously considering not letting him, which will cause dire sorrow and desolation (Already he has begged me to let him go to the store alone, five blocks away, and I’ve said no. If he were not so small and skinny for his age, maybe…) Fortunately, he has little buddies nearby. I foresee many organized playdates in his summer.

There’s a risk with internet and videogames at friends’ houses: They may not be as safe and age-appropriate as I would like. Well, we have discussed this, and the boys know what I think. With the older boys I can only keep the conversation going. With my youngest, I can still choose his friends, and have a snoop at what the kids are up to while I have a cup of tea with their mums!

There’s a risk that boys will pig out on chocolate and ice lollies at the store before suppertime: My giving them a very healthy breakfast, providing healthy snacks and remembering that they will not die if they don’t eat a healthy supper will save me some stress here!

There’s a risk with drugs, weirdos and dangerous behaviour: Thanks to their free-range years and our talkative and open family, I feel reasonably confident that the boys will make good decisions. I think that the gradual freedom that they got, from playing outside to talking with strangers to riding to school alone, will help them to feel in control… much more than a child who has always been supervised, never taken a risk, never had to make a decision. And I will be sure to tell them that if something goes wrong, we can work it out together.

I’m planning on making the boys’ mornings busy! If we have a few hours at home with chores, a big breakfast, art and crafts, and some reading and summer unschooling (you gotta unlearn everything you learned at school, I always tell them, otherwise how will there be room for the new stuff in September?) and they are expected back home in time for supper… well then, that only gives them a couple of hours in which to get lost, be kidnapped, fall out of trees, eat junk food and be badly influenced. Sometimes, the boys’ friends like to come here, where they can bang on the drums and jump on the trampoline to their hearts’ content. I will stock up on yummy snacks, to lure them here!

I’ve got a great babysitter on standby, so that my husband and I can escape for some child-free romance time! I’m also planning on keeping up a reasonable bedtime and our bedtime stories, even for the older boys. A bedtime story is a safe, grounding thing, and we often talk about our days at story time. I’ll look for books with positive role models and happy endings, and keep asking them about their days till they have to tell me!

The alternative, it seems, is to keep the kids at home, and supervise their every moment. Of course, statistically, kids are more likely to be abused by a member of their family than by a stranger. And after a few weeks of non-stop 24-hour contact with three sons and a nephew, all between the ages of eight and twelve, I would fear for all our safeties! With a little thought and planning, I hope that our summer holiday will be happy, fun and free from major incidents.

by Nan Sheppard

Photo graciously provided by Plamen Stoev, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Being Overprotective

a kid riding a bicycle wearing a helmetWhen my kids were little, I wouldn’t let them play outside unless I was with them. We live in a small neighborhood on a secluded cul-de-saq in a relatively safe out of the way part of town, but it always made me feel better to be out there with them.

Sure, at first, they were toddlers, so it made sense for their safety. I’d never let them play outside alone when they were two years old for fear that they’d trip, fall, or accidently get into something they shouldn’t have. There is a creek that runs through our property, and it was better to be safe than sorry. When I was in the hospital after the birth of my daughter, the main story that weekend was of a child who accidently drowned in the pond on his property. We live in the country where there are a lot of ponds, streams, creeks. It gave me nightmares.

Now my son is a grade-schooler and my daughter will be entering kindergarden in the fall, and I have started to let them play out in the yard as I make dinner. I can see them out the windows of the kitchen and poke my head out to check on them every few minutes or so, mostly to give them an idea of how much time until the food is ready. But I also check for my own sanity.

The world can be a scary place, and while the bad stories tend to be the ones that make their way to the news, I figure it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. I don’t let the kids ride their bikes the mile and a half loop all the way around the neighborhood without me (yet) and to be honest, they haven’t asked to. Mostly, if they want to go exploring, they want me to be there with them to experience and share in the excitement.

I hope that my fears about things like the young boy who disappeared last week from his school don’t impact my children and their growth into independance in a negative light. My heart breaks for his parents. I cannot imagine the nightmare they are living and I hope and pray that by the time this post is up on the site, their son has returned to them, safely.

We can be too cautious, or we can be too lax. Where is the middle ground?

How do other parents reconcile this world with all of the things that place our children in jeopardy, with teaching them how to stand on their own and forge their own path? Every day I worry more. In the end, I try to go with my gut, but I know I will always come down on the side of being one of those parents who is just a little bit too overprotective. Given the stakes, I think that’s appropriate.


by Rocket Science Mom


Photo graciously provided by woodleywonderworks, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Safety Check

two toddler girls holding handsA dear friend of mine spent several terrified minutes in Target last week, looking for her three-year-old daughter Amber*. The little girl wandered away while the family was distracted and looking for a ring that her older sister lost. As soon as my friend realized her little one wasn’t just around the next aisle, she notified store employees. Thankfully, a store protocol was in place and employees headed straight to the doorways to look for Amber.

Ultimately, it was Amber’s older brother who spotted her, ran full-tilt across the store, and scooped her up. He then rushed back to Mom with his treasure in his arms. Store employees were right behind him, having realized that what was lost had been found.

Two summers ago, another friend related a story about her young teen-age son and daughter who were home alone for less than ten minutes one afternoon. They’d just been dropped off home and my friend was driving home from work. A strange man approached the door and knocked, then tried to get into the house. Fortunately, the mom who’d brought them home challenged him, and he ran away.

The fact that none of the children were harmed is nothing short of wonderful.

My question is this: when is the last time you did a safety check with your children? Do they know what to do if they get lost in a store? Have you rehearsed possible scenarios with them? What about a code word? Do you have a special code word that only the family knows, so that your children cannot be fooled by a stranger asking them to come along with them?

Have you reviewed safety strategies with your kids lately?

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has plenty of resources and ideas and information available if you need. Their FAQ page dispels myths and has concrete suggestions you can implement today to help keep your kids safe.

Another site with some helpful resources is KidPower.org, where you can teach your kids safety skills without frightening them. One fact that frightens me is that kids are more often victimized by people they know than strangers. Do they know how to protect themselves? How to tell you they need help?

Take a few minutes and talk to your kids about safety, won’t you?

*Name changed to protect the innocent.

by AmyL

Photo graciously provided by hlkljgk, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved