Safety measures must be regularly updated as your child matures physically and mentally.
Even though the typical use of a playpen is to confine the baby while you're busy, don't leave him alone there. Keep him in your sight, and never leave the side down on the playpen even when the baby isn't in it. Whether he's inside or out, your baby could crawl or roll into the pocket that forms when the side is down and suffocate.
Let the labels on toys be your guide. They take into account not only a child's cognitive skills but his ability to handle the toy safely as well. When the label says, "Not recommended for children under 3," it's not because the manufacturer thinks the item might be too tough for your 30-month-old to figure our but because the toy is small (or has small parts) and poses a choking hazard.
It's best not to use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire on the stove. Instead, cover the pan with a large lip and turn off the burner. Never throw water on a grease or electrical fire.
Carefully supervise young children when you're outdoors or visiting homes where dangerous substances might be accessible.
If your choking child is able to cough, cry, or speak, don't administer first aid because you could turn a partial blockage into a total blockage. Call your pediatrician for advice. Emergency first aid should be used only in cases where the child can't breathe at all or his airway is so blocked that he's losing color and can only cough weakly.
If you have a crash, replace your child safety seat with a new one even if you can't see any obvious damage. The stresses on the seat's parts could have caused structural weaknesses. This is why you should steer clear of seats sold at yard sales unless you know and trust the seller.
Make it a rule that your children can't clamp on the headphones when they go for a walk. Kids who listen to personal tape or CD players or radios with headphones while they walk can become distracted. They also can miss the sound of a car coming or a siren approaching.
Don't rely on inflatable toys, rafts, or water wings to keep kids afloat in water over their heads. It's okay for non-swimming children to use them as long as parents are supervising and are within reach of the child.
Helmets aren't just for cyclists; they should be worn by in-line skaters, snow skiers and snow boarders, skateboarders, ATV riders, and snowmobilers, too.
Students should know how to evacuate a bus in case of an emergency. Ask if your school's bus drivers conduct drills so kids won't be confused if they ever have to make an escape.
If your child is too young to identify herself and her parents, stick a piece of paper with your name and the phone number of the place you're staying in her shoe or pocket.
Fertilizer, animal waste, pesticide run-off, and other substances can contaminate a farm pond. If you allow swimming in your pond, have the water tested annually by a certified laboratory.
Ask your local police department to fingerprint your child. Sometimes the police provide this service at school fairs and other gatherings where young children are found, but you also can go to the police station to have it done. The police won't keep the record on file, so put it in a safe place at home.
Even your parents need to have a signed medical permission form when they're caring for their grandchild. The child's stepparent does, too. Make additional copies of this form to fill in whenever you leave your kids with someone other than their regular baby-sitter.
Don't put anything in your child's mouth. It's a myth that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. A foreign object, such as a pencil or tongue depressor, could cause further injury if it breaks.