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Child Safety: Keep Kids Safe During 'Breaks' From School Routine

Think Kid Safety At Home, On Field Trips, and At Care Settings

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School breaks give kids and caregivers much-needed refueling time, with relaxed schedules and more play time. During these breaks, however, children may get the impression that rules also have been relaxed, an assumption that can lead to dangerous situations or even accidents. Child safety is just as important during these breaks as when school is in session.

For parents who work full-time, their children may spend these breaks with childcare providers or babysitters, or even at home with older siblings for short periods of time. How can we arm our kids to help them stay safe during these breaks from school?

Here are some child safety tips for you to use in preparation for these non-school occasions:

Child Home Safety
  • Leave two emergency phone contacts, including that of an at-home neighbor, if possible. Tell your child who they are and show them where the information is posted.
  • Even the youngest child should know when and how to dial 9-1-1. Most emergency operators are experienced in dealing with young children and can comfort and reassure a young caller while help is on the way.
  • Provide specific activities that can keep them safely busy while you are gone. A game, puzzle, an art project, or a scavenger hunt can provide hours of fun and keep little hands busy.
  • Let your child or his sitter know want play to be restricted to inside or if you are comfortable with outdoor play while you are gone.
  • If you have a no-friend-over rule while you are gone, make that clear to your child and the sitter. You are the best judge of whether your child is old enough to handle the company of a friend without your direct supervision.
  • Before you leave, put away all matches and candles and any other objects that curious minds might want to explore.

Your Child on Field Trips
  • Find out all you can about the outing; where they are going, how they will get there, who will be with them, what they'll be doing and when they will be back.
  • Instruct your child NEVER to leave her buddy or the group, even when making a trip to the bathroom. It has been proven that there is safety in numbers.
  • Put your name and phone number in your child's pocket so that in case of an emergency he has the information.
  • Ask your provider if they will give children a special meeting place in case they are separated from the group so you can reinforce those instructions. Otherwise, tell your child to sit down and wait for a policeman, someone else in uniform or his provider. He will be found more quickly if he remains in one place.
  • Suggest that the children on the field trip all wear the same color shirts so that anyone separated from the group is easier to spot.

Child Safety When Staying With A Care Provider
  • Asking your child questions like, "What did you like best about today?" paves the way for conversation about his likes and dislikes while under the provider's care, and can give you a clear picture of your child's day.
  • Visit with the provider and your child together and watch their interaction to get a sense of how their personalities and communication styles go together.
  • Teach your child about good touch and bad touch. Let them know what you want them to do if a situation doesn't feel right to them.
  • Ask the provider for a calendar of weekly activities so your child will know what to expect each day. With a calendar, you know whether she should wear sandals or tennis shoes or if you need extra money or a towel.
School breaks can be memorable and fun if you and your child get together on what is expected and what rules should be observed year-round. Taking a break from school shouldn't mean that we forget to reinforce the rules of child safety for our kids.

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