Most of us have the obvious dangers covered in our homes, we are constantly hearing horror stories about blinds, dangerous household chemicals, medicines etc, but what about dangerous situations..
But if your children were faced with a dangerous situation, would they know how to react?
In our house we try to talk about important safety issues throughout the week so that our children internalise these skills. If they ever find themselves in a dangerous situation, they don't have to think about it, they will just do it.
1. Teach them how to call 999
Kids love this one! We have taught our two children how to dial 999 from the home phone and the mobile phone. We have taught them what info the operator will need, name, address and what has happened. Consider practising once a week, how to call, giving your phone number and address. I actually think that equipping your children with these skills empowers them, it's good for them to feel that they could "help" in an emergency.
2. Discuss what to do if there was a fire..
If there was a fire, would your children know what to do?
We have special places where we keep fire extinguishers and we have taught our eldest (she is 11) the basics of how to use one if she should ever need to. It would be great to think that if there was a fire children would run straight to the door to get outside but the reality is most children would be scared and hide somewhere. If this possibility has been discussed openly beforehand they are less likely to panic.Take a look at this online resource for more tips http://www.firefacts.org/
Take a trip to the local fire-station!
Consider calling your local fire station and see if you can set up a time to take your children, perhaps invite a couple of friends along, they do also have open days you could enquire about. My youngest daughters pre-school arranged for a fire-man to visit their setting. The children loved it and learned the Stop, Drop and Roll sequence. This is something no-one in our house will ever forget due to it being repeated over and over and over again! Better than hearing ther Peppa Pig song in my opinion!
3. How to "deal with" meeting strangers
This one is a tricky! Personally I do want my children to be polite to new people we meet, but I also want them know how to stay safe. We have explained that not all strangers are dangerous. What we have taught them is that no adult should ask a child for help. If an adult needs help finding something, or directions to the nearest ice-cream shop, they will ask an adult. If they ask my children for help, my children know to run away and come and find me or daddy.
4. Always ask an adult before eating sweets...
This may seem a bit daft but go and take a look at your medicine cabinet and see it through the eyes of a small child. Lots of bright colours, little "sweeties" , strawberry flavoured liquids. You may well keep medicines locked away and out of the way in your own home but what happens when they are in someone else's home? Teach them that if they see medicines or "sweets" never to eat them, they should go and get an adult.
5. Teach them from very young that no one should ever touch them in their private areas unless mummy or daddy are there.
Tell them that mummy or daddy should always be there if anyone has to examine that area, even at the doctor's office. Importantly teach your children that this should NEVER be a secret. We never ever keep secrets from mummy or daddy. I don't want someone touching my child and my child be afraid to tell me because that person told them to keep it a secret. The whole thought of this is sickening I know but we really have to talk about this.
5. Tell your children that they can ALWAYS talk to you, no matter what.
Whether there is a bully who has been hurting or intimidating your child with words, someone they know touching them in places they shouldn't, a friend trying to get them to eat a "sweet" because it's will be fun, or someone trying to get them to keep a secret. Tell them that it is never too late to tell you. Never make them feel small, It probably took a lot of courage for them to come and tell you, children need to feel loved unconditionally.
Keep discussing things openly. My children are 11 and 5, so the depth we go into with each topic depends on the level of understanding of each child. We watch kids shows that talk about safety, read books and discuss things openly.
I hope you have found this useful and that it gets you thinking about starting up conversations and perhaps making "emergency plans" together. Better to be safe than sorry afterall !!!