You often hear about new parents “child proofing” a house.  They have safety latches for door knobs, oven doors, toilet lids, kitchen drawers and cabinets.  There are electric outlet covers, safety gates, drapery cords hung high, and knives, matches, chemicals, and medications all locked safely away.  There’s a lot parents can do to make their homes safer for their children. 

The problem is, with the term children, at least in the context of “child proofing,” we often only mean babies and toddlers.  What about when our kids are not only walking, but old enough to be talking and learning too?

Here are some tips that go beyond the measures you take to protect your children and venture into the realm of educating your children to help protect themselves.

  1. Water and electricity don't mix.  You already don’t let your kids put their glass of water or milk on top of the television in the family room.  Now’s the time to explain to them why.  Electricity and liquids do not mix.  Teach them about electric fires.  Tell them the age old story about the person using the hairdryer in the tub.  You can make your point without giving your kids nightmares.  Then do a planned tour of your home, visiting each bathroom, every television/DVD player/game system set up in the house.  Help them identify potential electric fire threats in the home.  Tell them how much you appreciate their participation in keeping your Crown Point, Cedar Lake, or Schererville home safe.
  2. Animals.  Tell the kids to never pull on tails or ears, and never to interrupt a house pet who is having his dinner.  Even the best behaved dogs can get a little annoyed with a younger family member who refuses to leave them alone during what would otherwise be a peaceful meal.  Talk to your children about avoiding strange animals, whether it’s the stray dog or cat in the neighborhood or it’s your neighbor’s pet just on the other side of the fence.  Mom and Dad should get to know potential new animal friends on the block and ensure there are proper introductions with little ones.
  3. Knives, matches, meds, chemicals.  Yes, it’s time for those talks too, and YES, KEEP THEM LOCKED UP.  Talk to your children about all potential dangers in the home – just don’t overwhelm them right out of the shoot.  If you unload everything on them all at once you risk creating a sense that the house is a giant booby trap.  Have these conversations as opportunities present themselves.  You will still keep items like medications, matches, and so on locked up until the kids are a little older.

Of course everything depends on communication and how mature your children are.  If you find yourself constantly removing that nighttime glass of water from the top of the cable TV box and your constant reminders go unheeded there should be repercussions.  And that’s okay.  You’re just trying to keep your kids safe.