Murphy’s Law states that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” and eventually it seems that every human will experience this once in their lifetime. Not because most people are bad or deserve it, but there is a certain risk and mitigation that comes with simply being alive. By waking up in the morning, we are universally accepting that there is a unique and tragic possibility that we could stub our toe on the way to getting coffee, be abducted by aliens on our way to work or eat some really bad sushi. As if this isn’t concerning enough to dwell upon as a single person, when you become a parent it often doubles (or triples, if you have twins). However, increased risk does not have to mean increased worry if you take some time to adjust for common child safety concerns.
While there is no way to completely protect your child from the world (even surrounding them in bubble wrap won’t help), there are ways to guard against your most legitimate and pressing child safety concerns. Some is common sense, other is more nuanced wisdom, but all is worth remembering and hopefully passing onto others. In Bob Marley’s famous song “Jamming,” he reminds us that “life is worth much more than gold.” And when thinking about your family, especially your children, doesn’t this ring true? Because when you protect the thing that matters to you most, you not only experience life on the most visceral level, but you are truly rich.
The Troubles of Growing Up (and Being Little)
The concerns of a parent about their progeny are different depending on what age the child is at and how their development is coming. It is one thing to worry about a toddler falling into a pool opening by accidentally walking over to a neighbor’s house on a lazy summer day, but another thing entirely to receive a call from a police station that your teenager has been arrested for drunk driving. Both cases aren’t fun and may warrant a call from an accident attorney, so any way you can find to reduce their likelihood is worth checking out.
Modern sociological and psychological research appears to indicate that children who are both close to and participate in family structures (such as nightly dinners, outings, games, etc.) are less likely to develop substance abuse problems and emotional distress later on in life. It might be worth it to invest in pool opening services now that summer has arrived since the whole family can indulge in such activities. If you have an older or developing child, consider getting to know their interests and helping them develop them into talents or hobbies. Some parents have had success with game nights, specifically board games, because of the high level of concentration and integration involved in playing them. If you think board games are a relic of the past (now that we’re in the digital age), think again. In the past nine years, sales of board games have doubled and now come with digital equivalents for playing on game systems. You never know if letting your child best you in Monopoly could help them make better decisions later on (such as to NEVER buy Park Place or get in a car with a drunk driver).
Conversely, young children that are with their parents more often than not (or playing with them) have a harder time escaping their watchful eye and getting into physical trouble. Wandering into a neighbor’s yard and being attacked by a dog, or accidentally stumbling upon sharp power tools can all be avoided by simply knowing where your child is at all times. If you don’t have a fenced-in yard, it would behoove you to call multiple fence companies and inquire about discount rates by appealing to their human sense of child safety concerns. Even if you have to pay in full, the cost associated with getting a fence and creating a safe space for you child is going to cost far less than the emotional damage that will result after an accident. Remember that when you pay for peace of mind, you’re always getting a bargain.
When Play Turns Into Peril
Playing is one of the joys of life, especially of a child’s life. Long walks through the woods, organized team sports such as soccer and baseball, and general free time to get into trouble are all part of helping a child adjust to the wild and wonderful world we live in. But sometimes, play can turn into peril and child wonderment can morph into child safety concerns.
If you live near a wooded area, this can be a blessing for your child to get to know the natural world on an intimate level that city dwelling kids never will. But depending on where you are geographically, the great outdoors can have some even greater concerns. Consider going out into the natural world with your child first to get them used to it. Perhaps you can find paths together, make a “secret spot” they can take their friends to and point out animals along the way. You can also use this time to teach them about how to enter nature safely and do no harm: precautions such as bug spray, having a backpack with water/food and being careful in tall grass are all things you can teach them while out on a grand journey. If your child really wants to know more, you can purchase picture books for them that help identify the friendly (and not so friendly) animals that live in your local area.
Outside of the woods, streams and wild nature, there’s everything else. And by everything else, most people think of the “organized play” associated with team sports, playgrounds and going over to someone else’s house. Child safety concerns abound in team sports and playgrounds, but luckily the organizations that sponsor these events and places are already trying to guard against them without getting multiple lawyers involved. Whether it’s football, basketball, soccer or some made up game, taking basic precautions can go a long way. Before participating in team sports, it would be worthwhile to get a check-up at your family doctor to ensure your child is healthy enough to participate and doesn’t need to have more of a fuss made over them.
For a sport like soccer, you want to make sure your child and all the other players have adequate shoes and proper protection (like knee pads and elbow guards). While it may seem fun, punting a soccer ball with your head can result in concussions and other injuries that could result in a trip to the hospital. While there’s nothing wrong with contact sports, doctors tend to recommend them for older children who are more physically developed and can handle the force. For example, a sport like football is already known to be quite dangerous to adults. In order for children to participate in this game, all precautions should be taken to remove the most brutal aspects while preserving the challenge. This is why flag football and other variants were invented, and even though many people think that these are not the “real deal” when it comes to the sport of football, they preserve all the best elements while eliminating the bad ones.
Keeping Your Home Safe for Kids
You probably like to think that your home is in tip-top shape and could handle anything or anyone: from your elderly mother-in-law to your four-year-old, there’s nothing to worry about in your house. While that may have been true when you purchased your property and had an inspection, is it still true? Have you been keeping up to municipal code with the electrical, plumbing, and foundational demands of your property? Have electrical outlets been inspected for sparking, or covered up so that critters and toddlers alike don’t accidentally receive a shock? These and more are the things that need to be on your list to keep your castle from turning into a dungeon ravaged by child safety concerns.
A common error that parents make is not inspecting their garage door to make sure that it’s child and critter safe when it closes. Usually when dealing with garage door installation, the contractors will offer to place an IR beam module at the bottom of the door so that if anything gets caught at the bottom, the door will cease to close and come back up. This system was put in place many years ago by manufacturers to avoid crushing children’s limbs or killing them, almost eliminating child safety concerns. Make sure to get your garage door inspected and see if it has one of these systems in place so that you don’t have to consult orthopedic doctors about an unfortunate injury.
If you have someone disabled or bound to a wheelchair that’s part of your family, your home may contain residential lifts of some sort. Whether these go up, down, or sideways, they also need to be inspected by a certified technician. The type of lifts that are able to move whole chairs is also able to snag small fingers, pinch tiny toes and, much more. If you let your child “take a ride” on another family member’s chair while they utilize this system, make sure that they’re being adequately held or strapped in. The last thing you want is for them to take a tumble down the stairs or worse when you’re simply trying to do a good thing.
Child Safety Concerns Unique to the Modern Era
Being concerned about your little one’s welfare is not an entirely new issue. For hundreds, if not thousands of frazzled years, children have been getting hurt and parents have had their blood pressure shoot through the roof with child safety concerns. In the pre-historic era, parents worried that their children might fall off a cliff or be eaten by a saber-tooth tiger while they were out hunting or gathering food. And with no call centers available to utilize 9-1-1 or doctors to repair broken bones and such, this must have been an overwhelming terror that they constantly lived with. Luckily, most medical centers today utilize call centers and telehealth services. The modern era has certainly streamlined issues pertaining to health and wellness.
Luckily, we live in the modern era where risk is not only easier to mitigate, but health care service is as ubiquitous as fast food (even if it’s not as affordable). But the talents and skills of those available now is greater than even 25 years ago, with constant innovations happening.
If your child accidentally falls down on the ground and smashes their jaw open, you can be reasonably confident that the oral surgeon who repairs their jaw will have the best training available. Similarly, if your child is mistreated in a daycare center or befalls some horrible fate that sustains them a head injury, there are now lawyers that specialize in making you whole, like a brain injury lawyer.
There are other child safety concerns that are unique to the modern era that parents may neglect thinking about because they are too terrible to contemplate. Situations such as who your child is talking to online and what information they are communicating or sending to them should be a chief concern. While not everyone online is some stranger to be afraid of, it is a feature unique to our modern era that children can be endangered simply by gazing into a computer screen. Criminals have been known to ask for all sorts of personal information, play schedules, and even ask for children to type out their parent’s credit card information. Always know what your child is doing on their own computer and don’t hesitate to spring for good monitoring software or help them along.
When You’ve Done All You Can, Make Sure to Enjoy the Moment
At the end of the day, there’s only so much that you can do to mitigate the various risks in life. There will always be tornadoes, hurricanes, criminals, and strategically placed sugary cereals to tempt fat or deceive your child into harm’s way. But hopefully this article has given you food for general thought and allowed you to chew on all the issues that may apply to your situation. As Bruce Lee used to say, “take what works and discard the rest.” You may be able to expand upon specifics that are unique to you and your child’s well-being and pass them onto others.
Your child safety concerns will always be valid. That’s just part of being a diligent parent who loves their offspring as they should. But at some point, your worry will cripple you instead of helping you to be on guard. This is what’s worth recognizing and guarding against so that you don’t eventually become a sopping mess instead of the awesome guardian you’re meant to be.
So take a deep breath, look around you and think to yourself: “I got this.” After all, you’ve gotten your child this far, haven’t you? Take your education and use it to maximize your time together, before they turn into an unruly teenager or march off to a prestigious college. It truly is precious, and worth much more than gold.