Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years (cont.)
Safety Measures Outside the Home
You cannot protect your child from every danger he or she can possibly encounter outside the home. But you can take reasonable precautions and teach your child basic safety rules. This general training can help prepare your child for many situations he or she may face.
Prevent accidents by using safe equipment, teaching safety awareness, and closely supervising your child.
- Always use a car seat and have your child ride in the backseat of your car. Car accidents are the leading cause of death and injury in young children. Many injuries and deaths can be avoided by using proper child restraints. For every ride in a vehicle, make sure your child is securely strapped into a properly installed car seat that meets all current safety standards. Because state regulations vary and may not include important points to keep your child as safe as possible, follow basic guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Go to the AAP website at www.healthychildren.org.
- Never leave your child alone in a car. Heat inside a car could cause long-lasting injury or death in just minutes. A young child's body temperature can go up 3 to 5 times faster than that of an adult. Keeping the car windows down will not protect your child in hot or warm weather. Other injuries could also occur from a child getting stuck in the trunk or setting the car in motion.
- Help your child become "street smart." Teach your child the basic rules about the dangers of cars and streets.
- Teach proper behavior around animals. Teach your child how to interact with different types of pets and other animals that he or she may come across while outside your home.
- Begin teaching your young child swimming safety. Knowing proper behavior while in and around water can help prevent a drowning accident. If you have a swimming pool at home, be sure to take safety measures. If you live near irrigation canals, keep your child away from them.
- Use insect repellents to prevent bites and stings. Also, take action to lower your child's chances of being stung by an insect by having your child wear socks, closed shoes, and clothes that fully cover his or her body when outdoors.
Before your child visits an unfamiliar home, ask the homeowner whether you need to be aware of any dangerous areas, pets, or other safety issues. It is always a good idea to see the household for yourself. Don't be afraid to voice any concerns you have about safety. You are ultimately responsible for protecting your child.
Before enrolling your child in day care, evaluate the environment and talk with care providers. Ask questions about their safety guidelines. Identify any hazards, and ask how they are handled. Inspect the food preparation area, and ask how often it is cleaned and what kinds of cleaning products are used. For more information, see the topic Choosing Child Care.
Going along for the ride
When you include your child in your activities, be sure to recognize the related safety issues. And focus on your child's comfort and safety.
- Keep your child safe in strollers and carts. Watch him or her closely. Use the safety straps, and follow the printed instructions. For example, signs on shopping carts usually advise you not to put a child in the area that is reserved for shopping items.
- Prevent sunburn. If you can't keep your baby out of the sun, cover your child's skin with hats and clothing. Protect any bare skin with a small amount of sunscreen. It's safest to keep babies younger than 6 months out of the sun. Be careful that your child does not develop heat exhaustion from being out in warm temperatures. Small bodies can develop these problems much more quickly than adults. Do not keep your child out in warm weather for long periods, and keep water or other drinks on hand. For more information, see the topics Sunburn and Heat-Related Illnesses.
- Monitor air pollution when planning to take your child outdoors. Children's lungs are especially sensitive to pollution. You can check your newspaper or local weather station for details about air pollution levels.
- Watch for physical signs that show it's safe to gradually include your child in your activities. When children can run or climb, it's usually a good sign that they are getting stronger and can keep their balance. Before and after these signs appear, use good judgment for your baby's comfort and safety.
- Fitness: Staying Active When You Have Young Children