Home alone? AVFD provides safety tips for summer latchkey kids

As the economy struggles at recovery, many families find themselves in a situation where both parents are working.  This may be new to the family or may be something that has been a long standing routine.  In either case, it is of the utmost importance that each family carefully assess its home environment to ensure that, when left alone, children are as safe as possible.

The Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department and Harris County Emergency Services District 46 offer the following recommendations to help keep families safe:

TEACH PROPER USE OF 911

 

Children should be taught to use 911 for emergencies as soon as they are capable of dialing the phone appropriately.

Although this seems like simple advice, many people overlook it.  When emotions and stress levels are elevated, making this call may become more difficult.  Thinking is clouded by the immediate situation and even the simplest tasks become harrowing.  Additionally, even though almost all areas of the country are now covered by what is known as E-911, which provides emergency dispatchers with immediate access to caller specific information such as name, address, phone number, etc., not all areas are do. 

With the increase in “cell phone only” users, many home phones (land lines) have been eliminated.  Although E-911 will provide some information about the cell phone caller, the information is not nearly as complete as that provided by a standard home phone.  Cell phone calls do not necessarily pinpoint the location of the caller at the time of the call in the same way a land line would.  This can create confusion and delays in getting assistance when needed. 

Dispatchers have to ask several questions – regardless of whether the call is land or cell based – and the caller should be prepared to provide the information requested as quickly and clearly as possible.  Training children in this process is imperative to their safety.

A PHONE CALL AWAY

 

Compile a list of phone numbers and post them (or save them in the child’s cell phone contacts list) of neighbors, relatives or trusted friends so that in the event of an emergency or other situation they can immediately contact help.

Having a list of emergency or important numbers will come in handy when parents are not readily available.  Designated emergency contacts should be aware that they have been chosen to be called at any time should the need arise.  Children should be coached to use these numbers only when necessary and to make them available to emergency responders when requested.

HANDS OFF THE STOVE

 

Cooking while alone should be limited to what can be done safely in a microwave oven.  Although microwaves can create problems, these situation are very rare and, if used properly, these devices are probably the safest for unattended children.

Unattended food on a stove or a carelessly placed towel or other combustible material is the cause of many recent emergency calls.  Distractions such as, television, phone calls, texting, etc., can be the catalyst for a disastrous situation.  The AVFD recommends providing cold or microwave snacks or meals for children who will be alone in the home.

SPLISH SPLASH

Pool safety and regulated usage is always a good idea.

Many families in Atascocita and surrounding communities have pools.  Their children have grown up with them so they understand the potential danger for toddlers or those who can’t swim falling in and becoming drowning victims.  But what is seldom discussed is rowdy or dangerous behavior in the pool area. 

Adolescent children or teenagers who are allowed to have friends over when the parents aren’t home may be inclined to become rambunctious and not follow established rules of conduct while in or around the pool.  This can lead to injuries that require emergency assistance.  Jumping, diving, running, slipping, etc., can all result in accidents that ultimately produce an injury.

 These injuries can be as minor as scrapes and bruises to paralysis or death.  A clearly defined set of expectations and consequences for failure to comply will go a long way to keeping the pool area safe.  Restrictions for use while the parents aren’t home may pay large dividends.

“These are only a few of the things that can cause emergencies for children who find themselves alone this summer,” said AVFD Deputy Fire Chief Mike Mulligan.  “Please take some time to consider any other [possibly hazardous scenarios] that may or may not be unique to your situation and develop a plan to keep them from becoming a factor in your summer fun.”

More Safety Info:

  1. Springfield Schools Send Home Safety Tips
  2. Conn. Fire Inspires Kids’ Home Safety Business Idea
  3. Summer Home Safety
  4. Police Safety Tips: Home Security 101
  5. Nursing home safety: Special safety tips for the elderly or disabled

 

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