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Monday, April 3, 2017

12 Musts to Make Your Kids Safer, starting when they're very young

Reposted with Permission From Maureen O'Connor. I made changes to her original post but the suggestions were hers and so I asked if I could share them.

There was a recent threat at our middle school and the district sent out communications and that was all good. The event itself was unsettling and likely shook up local moms. It's good that the district followed up. But it was the tip of the iceberg in terms of reminding ourselves ways we really can be smart about safety. There will be frightening things. Big, loud, red-buttons of fear like threats of guns, and then there are the more oft-forgotten ways we make sure our kids are safe. This post is about those.

This list covers lost child, wildfires and highway closures, tech break-downs, and even "school incidents". And I've had close calls with almost all of these.

Without further ado

12 Ways to Make Your Kids Safer, starting when they're very young.

1) As soon as they know numbers, have them memorize your cell phone#. Make it a sing-song. My kids sing the last four digits of my phone number all the time. To the point that if I hear Nine-Nine, I can hear them in my head.

2) Write contact on everything. Keep it hidden - inside backpacks, in the pocket chart inside coats, use initials and cell#. My kids' car seats came with a pocket for info like this and I filled out their names & doctor's names & numbers & my number in case we're ever in an accident. Here's a blank sticker you can buy and fill out to stick to a car seat.

3) Make sure your kids know where this info is, and to use it if they get lost. Oh, and make sure your young kids know their last name. I asked my babies what their mom's & dad's grown up names were and had them practice that too.

4) If you are going to a large event (street fair, sports complex), write your info on their arm with a sharpie (tell them it's a tattoo, but under the sleeve). Or use old business cards and hide those in shoes. 

5) Play the "chauffeur" game. "Today kids, I don't know where you live, or where the school is, or the store. You must tell me how to get there." If they forget a turn, go past the street. If they tell you to turn left instead of right, and it's not a driveway, turn left.

Make them look out the window once in a while. 

6) Quiz them on their street address. And if you hide a key, how to get in if the house is locked.

7) Have them describe a car that just drove by - what color, size, features like bumper stickers and dents.

8) Teach them what a license plate is and try to read those too.

9) Go over fire escape routes and meeting places in your own home. And how to dial 911, on the phone models you have.

10) For older kids, go over other kinds of meeting places out of your home - what if the road is blocked and they're at the other end of the county, or at school, where do you meet? What if something happens and you're not there when they get off the bus? Who do you know & where do you go?

11) The fire fighters do a nice job of this at the school but it bears repeating, teach your kids that if it's smoky and they are scared, they should hug the fire fighter. And if you...say...for exampleandit's just an example...drip bacon grease all over the inside of your oven and it's smoking so badly no one can eat breakfast, this is a good time to talk about smoke. Not that I've done this, mind you.

12) Teach your kids that if someone comes up and they have a weird feeling, to trust that feeling and get away. Teach them to scream if anyone grabs them. Worst case scenario? They scream when someone makes them feel uncomfortable like their older cousin who is just joking around. BUT, I'd rather have a conversation about that, than any of the alternatives. It's easy to get through a mere misunderstanding.

And lastly, if you think it through and make plans, maybe, just maybe, you won't freak out when something does happen.

Thank you for reading and now, because you're mostly straight women, here is a picture of hot firefighters hugging puppies. Hug a firefighter. Just be sure he's not your friend's husband. Or that your hug is polite and not sweaty and you're not panting or clinging (like those puppies... geeze, do you believe them?) These guys are in Australia so they're probably good to use for this.