Teaching your kids about safety is one summer pastime that we encourage parents to do. Summer means children may be out of daycare and out of school, at home spending more of their time with family, caregivers and babysitters, especially if parents are working. And parents want to make certain their kids are happily busy doing something healthy and safe, and participating in a pastime that they and you appreciate–whether it’s playing with friends, building a sandcastle, hunting for fireflies, or enjoying family outings.
President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Ernie Allen says, “Child safety is important all year, but summer is an especially important time for parents and children to include safety in their activities.” “Always listen to your children and keep the lines of communication open. Your children are your best source for determining if everything is okay. Teach your children to get out of dangerous or uncomfortable situations right away and practice basic safety skills with them. Make sure they know they are able to tell you about anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.” NCMEC’s 10-point Child Safety checklist below is great for parents to review and use to keep kids safe this summer:
1. MAKE SURE children know their full names, address, telephone numbers and how to use the telephone.
2. BE SURE children know what to do in case of an emergency and how to reach you using cell phone or pager number. Children should have a neighbor or trusted adult they may call if they’re scared or there’s an emergency.
3. REVIEW the rules with your children about whose homes they may visit and discuss the boundaries of where they may and may not go in the neighborhood.
4. MAKE SURE children know to stay away from pools, creeks, or any body of water without adult supervision.
5. CAUTION children to keep the door locked and not to open the door or talk to anyone who comes to the door when they are home alone.*
6. DON’T drop your children off at malls, movies, video arcades or parks as these are not safe places for children to be alone. Make sure a responsible adult is supervising younger children any time they are outside or away from home.
7. TEACH your children in whose vehicle they may ride. Children should be cautioned to never approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless accompanied by a parent or other trusted adult.
8. BE SURE your children know their curfew and check in with you if they are going to be late. If children are playing outside after dark, make sure they wear reflective clothing and stay close to home.
9. CHOOSE babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Many states now have registries for public access to check criminal history or sex-offender status. Observe the babysitter’s interaction with your children, and ask your children how they feel about the babysitter.
10. CHECK out camp and other summer programs before enrolling your children. See if a background screening check is completed on the individuals working with the children. Make sure there will be adult supervision of your children at all times, and make sure you are made aware of all activities and field trips offered by the camp or program.
* And if you don’t have to leave your children at home alone, don’t. Always make sure there is someone with them if you can’t be, hopefully, a trusted adult, babysitter, family member, or caregiver. Thank you and keep safe this summer! With grateful thanks to Ernie Allen and all the wonderful people at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the work they do!