By SERGEANT NATHALIE RANGER
SUMMER IS HERE and thousands of children are off school. Here are ways to keep your children safe this summer.
HOME ALONE SAFETY TIPS FOR PARENTS
It is important to stress the importance of safety rules, without unnecessarily instilling fear..
• Post a list of emergency numbers, including family members, trusted friends and neighbours, and emergency personnel.
• Make sure your child knows his/her phone number and address. Write these on the list of important numbers. It is very easy for anyone, especially a child, to panic in an emergency. If included on the list, your child can easily read aloud to a 911 operator in case of emergency.
• Keep a first aid kit in the house. Teach your child basic first aid.
• Make sure there are working smoke detectors on every floor of the house and teach your child what to do in case of fire. Practice fire evacuation routes with your children.
• Keep a flashlight and batteries in an easily accessible place in case of power outage. Show your child where to find it.
• Make sure that your child has a way to contact you when you are away from the home, including a cell phone and/or work number. Check your messages often and promptly return your child’s calls.
• Limit the kind of cooking that can be done absent of adult supervision.
• Call and check on your child. Always call and let them know if you are running late.
HOME ALONE SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN
• Never let anyone into the house. Do not open the door to strangers.
• Use caller id or an answering machine to screen calls. When answering the phone, never tell callers you are home alone. Tell them your mom/dad is busy and will call them back.
• Keep all doors and windows locked.
• If coming home to an empty house never enter the house if there are open or broken windows or doors, or other signs of forced entry. Leave and get help from a trusted neighbour.
• Do not invite friends over.
• Tell parents of any fears or concerns.
THE BEST DEFENCE AGAINST A HOME INVASION IS PREVENTION
Do not play with matches and lighters.
Tell a grown up immediately it you find matches and lighters lying around.
No matter where you are if your clothes catch on fire STOP, DROP to the ground and ROLL over to put out the fire.
If a fire occurs while you are home alone, get out of the house as fast as you can and go to a neighbour and have them call the Fire Department.
If a fire occurs while you are home, “DON’T HIDE” Crawl low on your hands and knees outside to safety. Once you are out, stay out. Do not go back for anything!
Do not play with electrical cords. And do not stick anything into an electrical socket.
Make an escape plan. Practice! Work with your family to plan how to get out of your home if there is a fire.
Plan two ways out of every room. The first way out should be a door. Second a window.
Choose a meeting place. Pick a safe and easy-to-remember spot outside your home where you will meet your family after you get out.
Test smoke alarms. Help grown-ups remember to test smoke alarms monthly and to put in new batteries twice a year when the clocks change.
Know the number of your Fire Department. 919 or 322-1225.
The thought of what your child might come across online can be worrying. Here are some internet safety advice to make sure going online is a positive experience for you and your child:
Discover the internet together
Be the one to introduce your child to the internet. For both parent and child, it is an advantage to discover the internet together. Try to find websites that are exciting and fun so that together you achieve a positive attitude to internet exploration. This could make it easier to share both positive and negative experiences in the future.
Come to an agreement for internet use in your home
Try to reach an agreement with your child on the guidelines which apply to Internet use in your household. Here are some tips to get started:
• Discuss when and for how long it is acceptable for your child to use the internet
• Agree how to treat personal information (name, address, telephone, e-mail)
• Discuss how to behave towards others when gaming, chatting, e-mailing or messaging
• Agree what type of sites and activities are OK or not OK in your family
• Follow the rules yourself! Or at least explain why the rules are different for adults.
Encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information
A simple rule for younger children should be that the child should not give out their name, phone number or photo without your approval. Older children using social networking sites like Facebook should be encouraged to be selective about what personal information and photos they post to online spaces. Regardless of privacy settings, once material is online you can no longer control who sees it or how it is used.
Talk about the risks associated with meeting online “friends” in person.
Adults should understand that the internet can be a positive meeting place for children, where they can get to know other young people and make new friends. However, for safety and to avoid unpleasant experiences, it is important that children do not meet strangers they have met online without being accompanied by an adult you trust. In any case, the child should always have their parent’s approval first. In addition, it is also a good idea to have a fail-safe plan in place such as calling them shortly after the meeting begins so that they can bail out if they feel uncomfortable.
Teach your child about evaluating information and being critically aware of information found online.
Most children use the internet to improve and develop their knowledge in relation to schoolwork and personal interests. Children should be aware that not all information found online is correct, accurate or relevant. Show your child how to check information they find by comparing it to alternative sources on the same topic. Show them trusted sites they can use to compare information.
Do not be too critical towards your child’s exploration of the Internet
Children may come across adult material by accident on the web. Also, a child may intentionally search for such websites; remember that it is natural for children to be curious about off-limits material. Try to use this as an opening to discuss the content with them, and perhaps make rules for this kind of activity. Be realistic in your assessment of how your child uses the internet.
Let your children show you what they like to do online
To be able to guide your child with regard to internet use, it is important to understand how children use the internet and know what they like to do online. Let your child show you which websites they like visiting and what they do there.
Remember that the positive aspects of the internet outweigh the negatives.
The internet is an excellent educational and recreational resource for children. Encourage your child to make the most of it and explore the internet to its full potential.
We know that some children are more fearless than others and the risk-taking ones are often lectured most about playing safely. Cautious children also find themselves in unknowingly hazardous situations and end up in the ER as a result. Thankfully, most injuries that occur while playing are preventable.
How you approach safety has a lot to do with the personality of the child and their age, but there are some fundamental precautions you should take to help keep your kids safe while playing whether they are toddlers or teens.
Get your toddler in the habit of wearing a helmet for protection while riding bikes, scooters or if they are heading off to a game of football and you will have less trouble getting them to do it as they gain independence
Play by the buddy system
Playing outside exposes your children to the dangers of paedophiles and common criminals. When your child is playing outside, insist that they have a playmate and that they stick together at all times. It is also a good idea for your child, and the children they play with to know the location of “safe houses”– neighbourhood homes they can run to should a stranger approach them or if someone gets hurt.
LET US KEEP OUR CHILDREN SAFE THIS SUMMER AS WE CONTINUE TO CREATE SAFER COMMUNITIES
Visit the Royal Bahamas Police Force website at www.royalbahamaspolice.org or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rbpforce for Latest News, Daily Crime Reports and additional Crime Prevention Tips