A few days ago, all of us were engrossed in some discussion over dinner and my son, now a hyperactive and unmanageable toddler, was busy holding onto chairs and moving from one of the dining chairs to the other. After some time, he got bored of this baby game of his and crawled to his small play area in the living room.
Half of us could monitor him from where we were and had an eye on him despite the chattering that we were being a part of.
Some five minutes later, we heard a loud falling sound, as if a big box or carton had fallen to the ground with a bang.
All of us realized that something was wrong and most of us exclaimed out of panic, “Where is he?”.
I rushed to look for my little one and realised he had silently crawled into the balcony and pulled down the empty shoe box kept there along with some other stuff there.
I ran and held him and heaved a sigh of relief on realising that he is safe.
After this incident, at bedtime that night, a very frightening thought came to my mind which shook me and said, “What if you were not around to take care of your son?”, “What if, not many family members were around too?”.
I immediately decided to never ever leave him alone and keep the balcony door closed at all times.
Something inside me said that my child is just one year old now and I have just a handful of things to be careful about. What will I do when he grows up?
How will I cope with safety and security issues?
The plight of friends and cousins who have kids aged 5, 7, 13 and 19, immediately flashed in my mind. I then realised that life is not just about keeping our little ones safe from heights, sharp edges, hot vessels or slippery floors.
There’s much more to safety when we dig deep down.
And it certainly gets all the more difficult when we are not around, because as children grow up we can’t be with them all the time.
So, here I am with a few quick tips on how to keep your child safe from various tangible and intangible dangers, particularly when you are not around.
Danger #1: Strangers
Safeguarding your child: Teach your child to not talk to strangers (until and unless required).
If your child is out alone in a bus or a train, make sure to instruct him to find a place near families instead of passengers travelling individually. Ask your child to not go to isolated places without you.
Make your child learn your home address and emergency phone numbers by heart.If your child is too young to learn them, keep in his bag a piece of paper with this information on it.
Instruct your child to call you or bring to notice anyone whom they find slightly suspicious or if they felt uncomfortable in a person’s presence. Teach them to be mindful of any stranger following them and how to ask for help if this is the case.
A good way of avoiding your child from wrong hands is by giving him/ her a password that only you or the child knows so that if anyone comes up to them saying that you had called for the child he could ask for the password from the stranger. If the person knows the password he/she is genuine else your child can run away from them in good time.
Danger #2: Water
Safeguarding your child: Make sure your child is a good swimmer before leaving them unattended at a pool or any other water body.
Buy good floatation devices for your children and make sure they carry them to the pool without fail. Make your kid understand that she is supposed to step out of the water if she experiences shivers or chills. Teach your kids to follow instructions given by the swimming pool authorities, like, no diving and the like.
When your child is having a bath at home, remove all electrical appliances like hair dryers etc. for their safety. Set your home geysers to such a temperature that the hotness of the water is comfortable for the child even after it gets heated up to its maximum capacity.
Lock your home pool or deflate inflated pool when not in use.
Most importantly do not leave your toddler unattended in a bathtub.
Danger #3: Your own home
Safeguarding your child: Buy good childproofing gadgets and install them wherever required.
Use non-slip pads under mats, rugs and carpets. Paste big and colorful stickers or cut-outs on transparent glass doors and windows to prevent your child from dashing into them.
Do not keep any sturdy furniture near windows. Your child might climb onto such furniture and fall out of the window. Use socket covers and hinge covers wherever possible and required.
Keep electrical appliances at bay, especially hot irons, hair straighteners, sandwich makers, toasters etc. Keep medicines locked up in drawers. Small children find medicine bottles and packs very attractive and tend to gulp these down causing fatal accidents. Keep balcony doors closed when not being used. This is very important especially when you are staying on higher ground.
Keep acids, cleaning agents, detergents, phenyls etc. away from the reach of the children. Keep match boxes, lighters (and other things that can produce fire) away from children.
Danger #4: Internet
Safeguarding your child: Teach your kids to keep personal information confidential.
Tell them about the dangers of sharing phone numbers, address, credit card numbers or account numbers on websites that are not trusted.
If possible, try and use filters and block websites that are not meant for children. Give them information about using social networking websites and mobile applications safely.
Keep an eye on all photos and videos that are uploaded to such sites or shared with friends and others. Try and password protect your laptop/computer and even your system, so that your child does not use the Internet when you are not around. Educate your child about malpractices related to the Internet like phishing, cyber-stalking, piracy and the like.
At home, in order to keep an eye on what your kids are up to, keep the computer in an area which is visible to all, rather than installing it in a corner in your kid’s room.
Danger #5: Pets
Safeguarding your child: If possible, keep pets in a designated area or outside the house.
Let your kids be friendly with your pets (under supervision) so that the chances of your pets harming your children is very low. Teaching your child to be kind with animals will also teach them to be compassionate.