By Marianne Frederick
Most parents and caregivers are aware of cautions to help prevent major accidents at home, like: don’t let your child play with matches; make sure medicines are inaccessible to climbing toddlers; never place a crib near a window or use window blinds with cord pulls.
Away from home, however, a lot of safety hazards exist, especially when parents or caregivers take a young child shopping. Shopping can be a fun family event especially if you have a caregiver or spouse who will accompany you to help watch your children. But that’s not always the case, so here are some tips to make it safer and easier for you.
Knowing where your child is at all times is important. It’s not a good practice to rely on store employees or other customers to watch your child for you. Children in a carriage or stroller are accounted for–and you know where they are, but young children who can walk or climb get curious and tend to wander if you are not holding their hand–and holding their hand while you are shopping although difficult is advisable.
Try to find out as much as you can about the product you intend to purchase before you go to the store if you plan to take your child along. If you shop at night, be sure to park in a well lighted area. Have your form of payment readily accessible. If it’s cash, count it at home before you go to the store, so you don’t have to drop your child’s hand to count or look for it. Also, ladies, clear your purse of excess stuff–so you can go right to your form of payment (whether it’s a card, a check or cash). After you have made your purchase, hold your child’s hand as you exit the store and walk to where your car is parked.
Children riding in grocery shopping carts face a major physical safety hazard. With all the warnings about shopping carts and possible injuries associated with them (some even printed on the carts), we still see children standing in shopping carts, and, sadly, falling from them. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) acknowledges that the greatest hazards with shopping carts are falls and head injuries. Some stores even have dressed up their shopping carts making alterations so little ones can ride one level below the groceries–about 3 inches above the floor. This method of transporting kids is not only unsafe, it’s unsanitary. Things can happen to arms, hands, fingers and feet that stick out the sides of these shopping/go-karts. So holding a young child’s hand and walking the store (hopefully, not too far) or stroll down the aisles with a stroller is still better. Please don’t put heavy cans, bottles or packages in baby’s lap making it tough for little ones to breathe or move normally.
Child safety is largely what you as an intelligent, thinking parent or caregiver does to create a safe space wherever your child is. Using clear-thinking, common sense is a terrific start. Paying attention, being present and focused on your child’s wellbeing will go a long way toward keeping your child safe.