Always remember, safety first!
Kids are going to fall, crash, slip and tumble. It’s all part of being a kid, and we wouldn't want
it any other way. But there are little things we can all do to ensure that kids avoid the more serious injuries that can lead
to disabilities and even death.
Home -- it's where children grow and learn, the place where they find comfort, love and care. It's where they can see,
touch, explore and experience the world around them, so their minds and bodies develop properly. It's also a place where children
need to feel safe.
However, home injuries are a leading source of accidental death for children. Almost 21 million medical visits and 20,000 deaths each year are the result of accidents in the home [source: Home Safety Council ]. Media reports bring attention to the possible accidents that can occur, such as being bitten by a trusted pet, choking
on balloons or wandering out the front door.
Fortunately, home injuries are largely avoidable through education and prevention. Parents can take proactive steps to
childproof the home and keep their children safe by teaching them a few practical rules.
Safety Tips for Kids
- I know my full name, my parent's names, and our address and phone number.
- I know when and how to use 911 and 0. I know I can dial 911 and 0 from a pay phone without any money.
- I never put my name on my clothes, jewelry, caps or belongings where people can see it.
- I tell my parents about things that happen to me that make me feel scared, uncomfortable or sad.
- I know the difference between a good secret and a bad secret. A good secret is fun to keep, like a surprise party. A bad
secret feels bad to keep, and telling my parents about it doesn’t make me a “tattle tale.”
- Strangers: I know that a stranger is anyone I don’t know well. Even people I recognize - like the mailman
or ice cream truck driver - are strangers, and that someone can be a stranger even if they look nice or know my name. I never
tell strangers my name or where I live.
- Buddy System: I use the “buddy system” and avoid walking or playing alone outside and in public places.
- Walking: When I walk down the street, I always face traffic so that I can see if someone stops their car near me.
I never take short cuts through deserted areas like creeks or vacant lots.
- Yell NO, Run and Tell: I know that yelling and running are better safety ideas than trying to hide. If a stranger
approaches me, I will YELL “No,” RUN to where there are safe adults, and TELL an adult.
- Safe Distance: I know to stay a safe distance (approximately three arm-lengths) away from strangers and stranger’s
cars, even if a stranger seems nice. I know to run in the direction opposite from the direction the stranger’s car is
- Fight Back: It is okay to yell and fight; anything to get the stranger to let go. Yelling is the most important
thing I can do, and to yell, “No!” “Help!” or “Fire!” to get an adult’s attention.
- Home Safety: I keep all the doors and windows locked when I am home alone, and to go to a neighbor and call 911
if a window is broken or if the door is open when I get home. I know how to call my parents or a neighbor if I get frightened
when I’m home alone.
- Doorbell Safety: I answer the door by asking, “Who is it?” I never say that I am alone, and never open
the door when I am alone, unless it is someone my parents told me to expect and let in. When I am alone, I always talk through
the door and say, “My parents are busy now, I’ll tell them you stopped by.” If the person does not leave,
I know to call “911.”
- Phone Safety: I never say that I am alone when a stranger calls. I let the answering machine screen calls or say,
“Mom/Dad can’t come to the phone now, can I take a message?” If someone is making strange noises, saying
scary things, or not saying anything, I will hang up the phone.
- Internet Safety: I know never to give my last name, address, or phone number to a person on the Internet, and that
it is never safe to meet Internet friends in person without my parent’s supervision and consent.
Who Are You Online?
You're always you, of course. But if you use a smartphone, tablet, or computer to play games and text with friends, you
also have an online identity. Games and websites might let you create a profile picture that represents you. It's fun to dress
up that character and maybe give it a sense of style you'd never try at school.
Apps and websites also let you choose your own username. If you want to be known as King_of_Ketchup, that's your new name.
So if you start calling yourself the King of Ketchup, does that mean you really like ketchup? Should you tell your new online
friends how much you love ketchup? That's up to you, but it brings up a good point: How much should you share about your real
You may feel fine telling your best friends about your biggest crush, but what if the whole school could see your poem
about your crush's beautiful eyes? What if strangers could see it?
There are rules about being online, just like there are rules about what you do and say in other places. It's important
you learn the rules so you can play safely online.
Keep Your Privacy
Anybody who uses the Internet has been asked to sign in, log in, or create a profile. Kids need to check with a parent
or grown-up before doing so. Why? This information could be used for reasons you wouldn't like, like getting a lot of junk
Another word about email: If you have your own account, let your mom or dad know before you reply to email that asks for
your personal information. Some email looks official, but it's actually a trick to get your personal info.
Another way to keep your privacy is to choose a screen name or email account name that isn't your real name. For instance,
instead of "Jack_Smith," why not choose "Sk8boardKing21"? Only your friends and family will know your
Social Media and Strangers
Maybe you're allowed to use your phone to send texts or watch videos. As you get older, you might get interested in social
media sites. These usually have a minimum age (13 years), but many kids look at these sites before they're 13.
Social media sites let you text, share photos, play online games with friends, and tell people as much or as little about
yourself as you want. But they also can let you meet strangers. It might seem fun to make new friends, but do not communicate
with strangers you meet online. Don't talk to them, agree to phone them, or email them photos of yourself.
To a kid, this can seem kind of silly. The writer might seem really nice and tell you how you sound really smart and cute.
Unfortunately, kids have been tricked online by people who pretend to be something that they're not. Someone might lie and
say they're in sixth grade too, when they're really all grown up. Some kids have found themselves in a dangerous situation
when they agreed to meet the mysterious online "friend" in person.
Let your parents know if a stranger emails you, sends a text message, or starts a conversation with you online. A grown-up
should decide what's best to do, which may include changing your email address or telling the police. In general, if you're
thinking about creating an account on a social media site, talk with your mom or dad first.
When you're using the computer, it can be tempting to hide behind a username to play a joke on someone by teasing the
person or pretending to be someone else. Or maybe you're angry with someone and it's easier to say something mean if the person
doesn't know it's you.
Just like in the real world, it's mean and hurtful to do stuff like that online. Even if you're only kidding, they might
not know that you're only joking and they might be very hurt or angry by what you said. It's a lonely feeling when you don't
know who's messing with you. Is it someone just being funny or does the person really mean it?
Whether they're strangers or friends, the rule is: Be kind online. Schools, teachers, and parents are all getting stricter
about what is OK or not OK to send as a message on your phone or computer.
Here's a good test: If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it to the person on the computer. And just like
with regular bullying, tell a grownup if you or someone you know is being upset in this way.
Rules to Follow
If you're a kid who likes to have fun and chat with friends online, here's how you can stay safe and avoid problems:
Stick to safer sites. Your parents and teachers can guide you to the best sites for you. Some sites have age restrictions,
so you might be tempted to lie about your age. It's safer to tell the truth and avoid those sites until you're older.
Guard your passwords. If someone can sign in as you, you have no control over what they do or say. And everyone will think
it's you! So don't share your passwords with anyone except your parents.
Limit what you share. Never tell a stranger where you live or your phone number. If you're not sure if you should share
something, ask a parent. Remember that anything you put online or post on a site is there forever, even if you try to delete
it. If you wouldn't want your entire class to know or see something, you shouldn't share it with anyone online, not even your
Don't be mean or embarrass other people online. Just like you, there's a real person attached to that screen name who
has feelings too.
Always tell if you see strange or bad online behavior. Tell an adult right away if someone says something to you that
makes you uncomfortable. Also tell an adult if you see anyone bullying or saying strange stuff to other kids.
Be choosy about your online friends. Some sites let kids make lots of friends with people they don't know. But online
friends are not the same as real in-person friends. Never agree to meet an online friend in person or give out personal information
about yourself. It's dangerous because some people pretend to be kids online but actually are creepy adults.
Flames Get Dangerous Fast
It will melt your marshmallows and glow brightly on your birthday cake's candles. But did you know that even a very small
fire can get out of control and burn down a whole house? Or that many fires are started by kids?
Fire moves very fast. A fire can burn down a building in minutes. And one burning house can set other houses on fire.
Fire isn't just dangerous inside. Outdoors, burning piles of leaves or grass can get out of control. Campfires also can lead
to bigger fires if they're not put out all the way.
Little kids often play with fire because they're curious and they don't understand how much damage fire can do. If you
see a younger kid playing with matches, candles, or any type of fire, get an adult right away!
Older kids also might be tempted to touch a lit candle or light something on fire, just to see what will happen. Don't
do it! Kids who play with fire can end up burning themselves, hurting other people, and destroying important things, like
homes and woods.
If you see a kid playing with fire, even an older one, tell an adult. And if you ever feel like you can't stop yourself
from playing with fire, let a grownup know so he or she can help you.
Fire can be cozy and fun to watch, but only in a controlled situation. Think of a campfire, a fireplace on a winter night,
or a professional fireworks display.
Why Fire Fascinates
Fire is a tool and a fascinating one. It's a basic element, like earth, air, and water. Fire is energy. In fact, it's
a chemical reaction happening right in front of your eyes. It needs fuel and oxygen to burn, but once it starts burning, it
doesn't stop until it runs out of one or both of them. That's what makes it both valuable and dangerous.
If you start by burning a stick in the woods and then you drop that stick, that flame will keep burning as long as there's
fuel (more sticks, leaves, dry grass, etc.) and oxygen (there's plenty of that in the air!).
So steer clear of fires and follow these safety tips:
Never use a stove, fireplace, or candle without a grownup there to help you. And be careful around hot spots like these
because if you get too close, your clothes can catch on fire.
Lamps, heaters, and radiators get hot when they're turned on, so don't touch them. Also never put clothes or blankets
on top of one, even as part of a game.
Don't play with light switches, electrical cords, or outlets. Check with an adult to be sure you don't have too many things
plugged into the same extension cord or power strip.
For many thousands of years, fire has cooked food, warmed people, and, unfortunately, destroyed stuff and hurt people.
It's always been interesting to look at, too.
So the next time you gaze into a roaring fireplace, remember that many generations of people have enjoyed that very same
sight. Just enjoy it safely and you won't get burned!
When it is just you after school:
Are you home alone after school until your parents get home? Plenty of kids are. No one knows exactly how many, but the
number is in the millions.
It's common for both parents to work or for kids to live with just one parent, so many kids spend some time alone after
school. Many schools now have after-school programs, but some don't, and in some cases, families may not be able to afford
the extra expense.
You might have many different feelings about being alone. Sometimes you might be happy to have the place to yourself.
Sometimes you might be lonely, or afraid, or just plain bored.
Set Some Ground Rules
So you and your mom or dad have decided you're mature enough to take care of yourself after school. Every weekday, you'll
come home, let yourself in, and then what? Good question! This is why you'll need to set up some rules before you're home
Some families put up a list of rules where everyone can see them, like on the refrigerator door. Other families write
out a contract and have each member sign it, saying they agree to the rules. Or a family might just go over the rules out
But whatever method you use, there are a lot of questions to talk about, like:
Should you call mom or dad as soon as you get home?
Are you allowed to watch TV, movies, and videos, or play computer games? If so, which ones and for how long?
Should homework be done first, even before chores?
Can friends come over? If so, how many?
What can you eat if you want a snack?
Can you go outside, and if so, where?
Which appliances can be used? (microwave, computer, etc.)
Which chores need to be done and by when?
Should your parent call home just before leaving work each day? For example, would it help to have a heads-up in time
to finish any last-minute chores before they arrive?
Once you've decided on the rules, you and your parent may find it helpful to make a schedule. That way, you'll know what's
expected of you each day. A schedule might look like this:
3:30-3:40 Call mom or dad.
3:40-4:00 Change clothes and have a snack.
4:00-4:45 Do homework.
4:45-5:30 FREE TIME!
5:30 Set the table for dinner.
5:45 Mom or dad is home.
Know How to Stay Safe
Knowing how to stay safe is just as important as knowing the family rules. Again, this is something you need to talk over
with your mom, dad, or both of them. Go over safety rules for the kitchen if you'll be doing any cooking while you're home
alone. It's a good idea to practice what you would do in a real emergency, just in case anything ever happens.
Kids who are home alone might worry that someone could break into the house and hurt them. The good news is that this
is very unlikely. But keeping the doors and windows locked will help you to stay safe.
Decide with your mom or dad what to do if the phone rings or if someone knocks at the door. It's never a good idea to
tell someone that you're home by yourself. And if you get home and the door is open or a window's smashed, don't even peek
inside. Instead, go to a neighbor you trust for help.
Other kinds of emergencies could come up, too, like a toilet overflowing, a fire, or you or a sibling might get sick or
hurt. Just in case, you'll want to know:
how to dial 911
your address and phone number
the name, location, and phone number where your mom or dad works
the name, phone number, and address of a trusted neighbor
the name, phone number, and address of another emergency contact person, such as a grandparent or family friend
If You're a Little Lonely
Talk with your mom or dad about how you feel about being home alone, especially if you feel lonely or scared. They might
be able to give you some ideas or solutions that will make you feel more at ease. Maybe you can go home with a friend once
a week or a neighbor can start checking on you. Sometimes a kid just isn't ready to stay home alone and other arrangements
need to be made.
Keeping busy with homework, chores, and play can make your alone time go quickly. But you might find yourself wondering
what to do next. The trick is to think about your choices ahead of time. You might even want to keep a list of stuff you like
to do. Need some ideas to get you started?
Read a book or magazine.
Work on a hobby or try a new one.
Listen to music, sing, or play an instrument.
Write a letter or an email or phone a friend.
When It's Just You in an Emergency
"Mom!" you yell down the stairs. "Where's my math book? I can't find it and the bus is coming! Please help
me ... it's an emergency!"
It is kind of an emergency with the bus coming and all, but what about a medical emergency? That kind of emergency is
usually more serious. If you don't have your math book or miss the bus, that would be bad. But a medical emergency means someone
needs care from a doctor right away. Let's find out the right thing to do.
Quick Thinking: What Would You Do?
Liz and her little brother Jamie are out for a walk. Jamie decides to race ahead down a very steep hill. He's running
pretty fast when he suddenly trips. Over and over he falls, rolling down the hill at high speed until he's sprawled out on
the sidewalk at the bottom.
Liz rushes to her brother's side, hoping that he's OK. Then she sees some blood on the pavement. And Jamie isn't moving
at all. What should she do? First things first: Liz should look around for a grown-up and call him or her to help right away.
If no one is close by, she should make a phone call either on a cell phone or from the closest phone.
Calling for help is the most important thing a kid can do in an emergency.
If you're going to be the one making the emergency phone call, here's what to do:
Take a deep breath to calm down a little.
Tell the operator there's an emergency.
Say your name and where you are (the exact address if you know it).
Explain what happened and how many people are hurt. (The operator will need all the information you can provide, so give
as many details as you can.)
Follow all of the operator's instructions carefully.
Stay on the line until the operator says it's OK to hang up.
After calling for help, your first thought might be to rush over to the person who's injured. But stop and look before
you do. Make sure the scene is safe. If it's not, wait in a safe spot until a grown-up or an emergency team arrives.
If the scene is safe, and as soon as Liz is sure someone is calling 911 or she has called it herself, she could return
to her brother and wait until help arrives. (She shouldn't move her brother at all because he could have a neck or other bone
injury. Moving someone who has that sort of injury can make it much worse.) She can help him feel calm by being calm herself.
In Case of Emergency
The best way to handle an emergency is to be prepared for one. Knowing what to do ahead of time can help you stay in control
so that you can help. Here are some suggestions on how to be ready to help in an emergency:
When you're outdoors, make sure you're in an area where you can call out for help even if you don't have a phone with
Know how to dial 911 or your local emergency number (in most areas in the United States, it's 911).
If you have one, carry a cell phone or know how to use your parent's cell phone.
Learn first aid. Look for basic first-aid classes with your local Red Cross, the YMCA or YWCA, the Boy or Girl Scouts,
4-H clubs, your local hospital, and other organizations. Or ask your school nurse to have a first-aid class just for students
in your school.
It's scary to think about someone getting hurt. But the truth is that accidents can and do happen. They happen when people
are being careless and when they're careful. Sometimes, kids are the ones who get hurt. Sometimes, grown-ups get hurt. Either
way, it's good to know what to do if someone needs emergency medical help. Even though you're a kid, you can make a big difference
by doing the right thing.