Child Care Safety Concerns
The environment needs to be safe and comfortable for everyone under the care of family child care providers. The safety concerns differ per age group of the children they care and supervise: toddlers, infants, and preschoolers. For example, infants are more at risk of ingesting small objects than preschoolers, so appropriate measures need to be prepared to make sure that everyone is safe.
At home, it might be a challenge to spot things that are hazardous for children. A known child safety expert says that it’s all about putting yourself in a child’s perspective to see which items could harm children. That involves getting down on your hands and knees and looking for things that might cause trouble. A sharp table edge, an uncovered air conditioning vent, small objects that are easy to ingest – all of these could cause harm to the little ones under our care, so it’s important to constantly check your area for objects that would cause injury or harm. The safety precautions of course, starts at home. Child proofing the areas where the little ones roam around is an important part of making sure that the children are safe. Create a checklist of risky areas inside your house that may cause injury to children.
Watch out for any obstructions near the door. In emergency situations, the obstructions may hamper your way to safety.
Children are not equipped to handle sequential tasks, so it’s important to keep a single action lock on your doors in cases of emergency. Single action locks can unlock and open the door with a single turn of the knob, without requiring a different key to unlock a deadbolt or a turn lock.
The rubber ends of a doorstop are also a known choking hazard. If you need to replace your doorstop, look for a doorstop without a removable rubber end.
Children below 5 years old are not equipped physically to maintain balance when climbing stairs. You can install a child barricade to prevent young ones from climbing up the staircase.
Children should be kept from fireplaces, open stoves, woodstoves, and open-face heaters. These are very hazardous places inside your house that could harm your children. You can install a barricade or fence to prevent your little ones from coming too close to the fire or open heaters. Install child-safe bathroom heaters to replace hazardous, old-fashioned, red-coiled bathroom heaters.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher handy to handle all common types of fires: wood, electric, and flammable liquid. Make sure that your fire extinguisher is accessible to all corners of the house. It’s best not to keep your fire extinguisher in a secluded part of the house, like your garage. Also, make sure that you regularly replace the battery on your smoke detectors. Several states have guidelines for smoke detectors and residential sprinkler systems, so make sure that everything is in place.
If you’re looking to obtain a license to have 7-12 children in your care, expect a fire inspection in your place. Fire city inspections are conducted by your local fire department or city building department.
Poisons in your household
There are a number of dangerous chemicals that you normally use in your household for cleaning and pest extermination. Make sure that these materials are kept away from the reach of children. Examples of hazardous materials are:
- Cleaning products (detergents, toilet bowl cleaners, furniture polish, disinfectants, metal cleaners)
- Poisonous plants
- Bathroom products (cosmetics, hair spray, rubbing alcohol, shampoo, shower gels)
- Lead paint
Most child poisoning cases occur when the substance is in use. Make sure that these items are kept out of reach of children. Materials that are hazardous to children usually have a child care warning on their label. Take child care warnings seriously.
Dispose of the packaging and empty containers properly and out of reach of children. While we’re at the subject, keep your trash bin away from the reach of your toddler. Training toddlers to steer clear of dirty surroundings helps keep them away from poisons and microorganisms that may cause sickness.
If you suspect an accidental ingestion or contact with a known poison or hazardous material, you can call the 24-hour Poisons Information Service of Australia at 13 11 26, or go straight to the emergency room of your nearest hospital.
Keep your home ventilated and adequately heated. Space heaters are not recommended. If you use gas heaters, it should be constantly operational and properly vented. It’s important to keep a constant, uninterrupted phone, water, electricity, sewer, and garbage service.
The garage is the place where people usually keep heavy and sharp objects such as lawn mowers, grass cutters, hammers, and other heavy-utility equipment. It’s recommended to restrict the access to the garage as much as possible to children.
Restrict the access of children to drowning hazards such as: pools, fishponds, nearby lake, bathtubs, and other bodies of water. For pools and fishponds, it’s recommended to put up a fence to restrict the access of children. Watch out for nearby windows which children can use to jump into the pool. Swimming pools attract many children, and they might go to extensive lengths just to jump in. Make sure that access to these areas are restricted, and if a child is permitted to swim, proper supervision should be exercised to every kid under your care.
If a child roams in the backyard, so should you. The child needs to be supervised at all times especially outdoors. That means that you can’t go back inside to answer a phone call or attend to another kid in your care. If you have several children in your care, it’s best to keep them all indoors. Dangerous and poisonous plants should be removed from the area. Toxic plants like poison ivy and dangerous plants such as cactuses are very hazardous to children.
Making your area safe
It’s not just the things inside your house and backyard that can harm the children. Other children can harm other children just the same. If there are excessively active children or a kid that has an aggressive behavior towards other children, you might want to separate the children first and let their parents know about their behavior.
Kids that appear to be sick while under your care needs to be separated from the pack until diagnosed by a physician. If the illness is communicable, most providers send sick children home until the infectious stage is over. In some cases, sick children are kept separate until they get better or the infectious stage is over.
If you, or your companion provider is sick, it’s best to notify the parents, especially if you have a communicable illness. In some cases, you might want to enlist the help of another licensed child care provider to look after the kids while you recover.
Collect the general information of the child so you can notify their parents or guardian in cases of emergency. You would need to keep a neat file, arranged, and easily accessible. An emergency information sheet includes the following:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Phone number and whereabouts of parents (during child care hours), including work and home address
- Name, phone number, and address of the child’s physician and dentist