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How To Keep Your Grandkids Safe When They Visit

Dec 24, 2007
Grandchildren are truly a blessing. They rejuvenate and bring a great new sense of excitement and discovery. And there's always that wonderful feature that you can hand them back to your children when you're exhausted or can't handle them anymore.

But there's also the serious downside of knowing that if anything happens on your watch, you've failed your own children. Grandparents face a lot of pressures, but there are ways to lighten the load. (And these tips also apply to nongrandparents when kids visit.)

To underscore the importance of eternal vigilance, each year more than 2,000 children under 15 die and 4.5 million are injured in home mishaps, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

For younger kids, get down on your knees and crawl around the rooms and yard to look for things a small person could get into. Open doors and drawers. As you do, ask yourself these questions:
-Is it poisonous?
-Is it a choking hazard?
-Could it start a fire?
-Could it fall over, or fall down?
-Could a child fall from it, or through it?
-Could a child trip on it?
-Could it scald or burn?
-Could it strangle or suffocate?
-Could a child drown in it?
-Could it electrocute?
-Could it cut?
-Does it contain alcohol?

Some Other Things To Do

* Post emergency numbers by all phones.

* Learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver for children.

* Purchase hearth guards for a fireplace and corner guards for furniture with sharp corners.

* Place stickers on sliding glass doors at child and adult levels.

* Tie up dangling drapery and blind cords and appliance wires.

* Keep plants beyond a child's reach. Philodendron and dieffenbachia are poisonous. Learn the names of your plants so you can help the Poison Center if a child eats them.

* Cover electrical outlets with a one-piece safety cover; children can choke on small, individual covers.

* Unload guns, and lock up guns and ammunition separately.

* If you have a pool, install four-sided fencing and keep emergency equipment poolside.

When They Visit

* Lock cabinets with childproof latches.

* Store matches, lighters, plastic bags and plastic wrap up high.

* Keep potentially "poisonous" products locked up, including medications.

NOTE: Each year, more than a million poisonings among children under six are reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, grandparents' medicines account for almost 20 percent of all drugs swallowed by children.

* Don't feed kids under six hard candy, popcorn, nuts, hot dogs, raisins, or food with seeds or pits. Some foods such as peanut butter or fruits can be choking hazards in big portions. Provide small portions.

* In the kitchen, secure infants and toddlers in a playpen, or a high chair with straps.

* Remove the table cloth because the child could pull it off and be burned by hot foods and liquids.

* Use the rear stove burners, keep pot handles out of reach, and never leave the stove unattended.

* Don't drink hot liquids while holding a child.

* Give formula and food a personal test for proper temperature before feeding a child. Don't heat formula in the microwave.

* Lock liquor cabinets, or move the bottles out of reach.

* Place things you want a child to have, like healthy snacks, within easy reach.

* Watch the recliner. Fingers, arms, legs, and heads can get caught between the chair and the leg rest.

* Move furniture away from windows to prevent falls.

* Keep the bathroom door closed and the toilet lid down.

* Do not leave electrical appliances plugged in, especially near the sink or tub.

* Never leave a child alone in a tub, or near a pool or containers with water.

* Lower your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees F. And always test the water with your forearm or a bath thermometer before putting a child into it.

* Pick up any small items lying around that a child could swallow.

* Check toys for small parts, sharp edges or broken pieces.

* Lock up all tools and garden chemicals.

* Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. Look for a certification seal to confirm the crib meets Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association standards.

* Use a firm mattress and crib sheets that fit snugly. Position the crib away from wall hangings, windows and cords.

* Dress infants in warm clothes. Don't use comforters, bulky blankets or pillows. Once she can pull herself up, remove stuffed animals she could climb out on and the mobile.

* Tie plastic dry cleaning bags in a knot and dispose of them safely.

* Store your purse on a top shelf, and remove potentially dangerous items from your dresser.

* Block off the top and bottom of stairways with safety gates.

* Be sure you can always hear a child who is crying. Make telephone conversations brief.
About the Author
John Myre is the author of the award-winning book, Live Safely in a Dangerous World, and the publisher of the Safety Times Reproducible Articles..
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