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Safety Tips from Youth Officer Forti

Safety Tips From (former) Youth Officer Jim Forti
To: Parents/Caretakers
Ref: Child Safety Tips

Much of the following material comes from the “McGruff Safe Kids Identification Kit:  A Fun Way to Family Safety”

In a perfect world, our children would be safe from all harm. They could play with friends and go off to school without any worries or concerns. But this is the real world. And although most kids grow up without any negative experiences, we have to do our best to prepare them in case they are ever in danger or threatened in any way.

The best way to do this is to teach the children safety concepts that they can use all the time.  These skills need to be reinforced on a regular basis so that they will become automatic, in the same way children learn to look both ways before crossing the street.

When discussing safety issues with your children, sit down and discuss it a little at a time so that it is not overwhelming.  Chances are, it will stimulate other conversations as well.  And it will give your child an opportunity to express his or her feelings so that can you put any fears to rest.  Below is an example of how most parents view their parental role.  Attached is an assortment of safety tips and ideas for topics to create discussions with your child.

A Love Note to Your Child:

When you came into the world, we were always together.  I became your protector because you were too little to take care of yourself.  I knew exactly where you were every second of the day.  And most days if I wasn’t holding you, you were holding onto me.  When you started walking, and then running, I ran right along with you to make sure that you didn’t get hurt.  And if you did fall and get a bump (it happened once in a while, you know), I wanted to be there to make the hurt go away.

Well, most of the bumps and bruises are gone now.  And now that you’re (age), I won’t always be at your side.  You will be off playing with your friends or out riding your bike or away at school.  But my job as your protector is even more important now.  I must teach you how to handle emergencies when I’m not around.

It’s fun growing up.  Fun to meet new kids and try lots of new things.  And just as I have always made sure you’ve had warm clothing in case of cold weather or snacks in case you got hungry, I must also have rules that keep you safe.

Remember you can always come to me with problems or concerns.  I will always be on your side no matter who is involved or what has happened.

Things Parents Can Do:

  • Walk with you child to school or the bus stop to point out areas that might not be safe.  Play a game called “What If” by using pretend situations to help them decide how to react and what to do.  Show them which houses they should go to if they need help.  Remind them to use the buddy system; it’s always much safer than walking alone.
  • Never allow your child to play in a park alone.  Remind your children to avoid talking to adults who appear to be alone or kids much older than they are.  Tell them to stay at least an arm’s length away from anyone they don’t know.  If they feel uncomfortable or suspect they are in a dangerous situation, they should leave quickly.
  • It is best not to let your children wear clothing or carry articles with their names on them.  A stranger may pretend to know the child by calling their name and acting like a friend.
  • Be sure to supervise your children when they are in public areas.  They should also avoid public restrooms unless they are with a trusted adult.  If your child should become lost inside a store or shopping center, tell them to go directly to a nearby clerk (easily identified by a name badge, smock, etc…) or security guard for help.  Your child should never leave the store to look for you inside the mall or out in the parking lot.
  • Explain that a stranger is anyone that they do not know well or have never seen before.  A good rule to remember is: a stranger is someone who has never been invited to your house as a guest.  That means that delivery persons, mail carriers, or door-to-door sales people should be considered strangers.  Children should realize that not all strangers are bad people, even they are “strangers” to other children when they first meet.  A next door neighbor may be a stranger even though the neighbor says “hello” to the child every time they seem them.  Children need to know that there are strangers that are safe to approach for help such as a police officer, a store clerk, an adult with young children, etc…  Children should not be told “never talk to strangers” since there are times that they need to talk to them.  It is more important to teach them to recognize that adults do not ask children for help (directions, finding lost pets, etc…), but if a child needs help that they should choose the safest stranger available to them and ask for help.
  • Instruct your child to never tell a caller their name or give any information about the family when answering the phone.  If you are not home, they should never say they are alone.  Have them say that the parent is busy and offer to take a message.  Children love to role play; have them role play this situation and demonstrate how effective it is if they actually put the phone down and walk to another area of the room and call out for the parent before telling the caller that the parent is busy.  Tell children to keep doors and windows locked at all times and never answer the door, even if it is someone the child knows.  Teach your children the emergency A-B-C’s.

Emergency A-B-C’s

Emergency phone numbers should always be posted near a telephone, and within each of children old enough to react wisely in an emergency.  New babysitters should also be directed to the phone numbers.  They should know your full names, address, your child’s names and ages and have phone a phone number where you or a close relative or friend can be reached.

Teach your children whom to call in an emergency.  Talk about different kinds of emergencies an dhow they should handle them.  They should know they do not need money to dial 9-1-1 or “0” from a pay phone.  Practice on a play telephone with smaller children.

Here’s what they should do:

A

Stay calm, pick up the phone and wait for a dial tone.  Then dial 9-1-1 or “0” for operator

B

Tell the person who answers what is wrong.  Speak clearly.  Give the person your name, address, and phone number.  If you are not at home, try to give your exact location.

 

C

Don’t hang up the phone until instructed to do so.

After you’ve called 9-1-1 or “0” for emergency help, here’s what you should do:

  • Turn the front lights on.
  • Have someone wait for help to arrive.
  • Prepare to unlock the door.

In case of fire:  children should get out of the house and go to the nearest phone to dial 9-1-1 or “0” for help.  Never go back inside a burning house.  If they are on fire, they should stop, drop and roll to put out the flames.

In case of an accident:  Dial 9-1-1- or “0” if they need to get help.  Instruct them to stay on the phone until all information has been recorded, so authorities may respond quickly to the call.

Teach your Children:

  • Personal information that your child may need to know such as your full name(s), employment address and telephone number(s).
  • Full name(s), address and telephone number of close relatives.
  • Their full name, address and telephone number (including area code)
  • What to do in an emergency, where to find important phone numbers, such as the Poison Control Center (617-232-2120)
  • To dial 911, to report a crime, a fire, or to save a life.  If they think it’s an emergency, they should call.
  • Business numbers for Wayland Police (358-4721), Wayland Fire and Ambulance (358-4747)
  • How to make long distance calls directly and with operator assistance.
  • To come home before dark.
  • To call home and tell you where they are, especially if they change locations
  • To avoid strangers.
  • That a stranger is someone you and they do not know.
  • That a friend is not someone known to them only by sight.
  • That a friend is a person who is a guest in your house, not a person delivering a package or soliciting sales.
  • To stay with you while shopping.
  • To stay out of parking lots.
  • That if they are being followed by someone in a car or on foot, they should not hide in the bushes, but run to other people and light.
  • Never go to a car, even if an adult is signaling them.
  • Adults should never ask children for directions.
  • To step back rapidly, turning to run if a stranger approaches them on the street.
  • Never to acknowledge that they are home alone to a person on the phone or at the door.
  • To keep all outside doors and windows locked and never to answer the door by opening it when they are home alone.
  • To talk through a window to anyone delivering a package and tell the person to leave the package at the door.
  • To go places with a friend.
  • To avoid dark or abandoned places.
  • Never go into anyone’s home with your permission.
  • That no one has the right to touch them on any part of their body and that they should tell you if anyone tries to do so.
  • To avoid strangers who are waiting around a playground – particularly an adult who wants to play with them and their friend.
  • To tell you if an adult asks them to keep a secret.
  • Not to go with, talk to, or accept gifts from strangers.
  • That if they are waiting for you to pick them up after school and someone else drives up and claims you sent them, to go back into the school for help!
  • To use a code word, known only to you and the child, changing the code word after it is used.
  • That if they are separated from you in a store, not to look for you, but to go to the nearest checkout area and ask the person for assistance.
  • To scream “help” if they are in trouble.
  • If they are grabbed by anyone that they should scream “YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER/FATHER” and to kick and bite and do whatever it takes to break loose.
  • To ask anyone who drives them anywhere not to leave them alone in the car, but… if they are alone in a car, to put up the car windows to the point where there is just enough space for a finger to fit through, and to lock all doors.

As a Parent:

  • Know where your children are at all times.
  • Don’t let your child to go public bathrooms alone.
  • Don’t leave children alone in a car.
  • Don’t put your child’s name, first or last, on articles of clothing, on bikes, etc… where it is readily visible.  Remember a child responds to his/her first name.  A person using that name will not automatically be thought of as a stranger.
  • Teach your child to avoid or at least be safe around strangers.
  • Don’t leave children alone in stores while you shop, or wandering around the mall.
  • Know your child’s friends.
  • Be involved in your child’s activities.
  • Practice with your child ways he/she may walk to and from friends homes or to school.
  • Teach your child which homes are “safe” to go into near your home when you are not around.
  • Listen when your child tells you that he/she doesn’t want to be with someone.  Find out the reason.
  • Notice if someone pays undue attention to your child.
  • Take a head and shoulders photograph of your child every year and record his/her height and weight.  Put it where you can find it!
  • Encourage parent-child communication.
  • Never belittle any fear or concern your child has, real or imaginary.
  • Tell your child that if anything happens, you will look for them, no matter how long it takes.