Having two, three, four or more toddlers and preschoolers around the house can make keeping them safe a challenge. There in no way cover all of the possible dangers of having more than one child of the same age and of the possible safety difficulties that might develop. Following are some safety tips to help you keep your children safe.
Remember that NO precautions are foolproof in the face of more than one determined child.
THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR RESPONSIBLE, ALERT ADULT SUPERVISION AT ALL TIMES.
In the Home
- Childproof your house every day. It is a good idea to crawl around the house in order to view it from a child’s point of view.
- If you don’t want it broken, remove it!
- Make sure that you have a house key hidden outside of your house.
- Make sure where you visit is childproofed e.g. Gramma’s, sister’s house, etc.
- Never leave the kids alone in a bathroom or in a bath.
- Toddlers can be very rough with pets. Teach children to respect them.
- While dealing with a crisis with one child, remember that you are still responsible for the safety of your other children. STAY ALERT! This is where those “eyes in the back of your head” can come in very handy.
- Important for partner and any other caretakers to be equally safety conscious.
- Tape electrical cords to the floor/walls for the time the kiddies are exploring their environment.
- Make sure that your hot water heater is not set too high. Kids have been scalded when a sibling has turned on the hot water.
- Watch for loose air vents in your home. Small children can slip down them and they make good receptacles for toys, bottles, food, etc.
- Dresser drawers make good climbing stairs. Purchase very low dressers, bolt a higher dresser to the wall or turn the drawer side into the wall until their climbing stage is over. Children can be fatally or seriously injured when two or more children try to climb dressers.
- Ditto for bookcases, turn them to the wall and anchor them.
- Check out accessibility to fireplaces (e.g. one twin pushed his co-twin up into a chimney and he got stuck), appliances (e.g. fridges, dryers, ovens, etc.)
- Do not place cribs near windows. Screens can be removed and toddlers tumble out.
- Two (or three) children can push a chair across a room to climb up onto countertops or reach higher objects.
- Safely secure medicines and cleaning chemicals. “Child-proof” containers are not so “child-proof” when set upon by two or more determined children.
- Many issues occur at nap-time because children often share the same room and “encourage” each other in their creativity and exploration. E.g. peeling off the wallpaper, emptying dresser drawers and climbing them, taking screens off windows and climbing out, finding the talcum powder and emptying it all over (makes breathing difficult), and the list goes on… Using a portable intercom may reduce potential hazards. If you wish to rest at the same time, as the children, place the intercom right near your ear.
- Put safety catches on all cupboards, drawers, screens, kitchen doors, etc..
- Put covers on electric plug outlets.
- Stereos and TVs can be pushed off entertainment centers. You may wish to either put them higher or bolt them down securely.
- Use gates and locked doors to seal off areas of the house where you don’t want them to go. E.g. laundry rooms, garage, etc.
- No shoving, pushing or running on the stairs. Many siblings have been pushed in play.
- When walking down the stairs with the children and carrying something such as a laundry basket, keep it to the side so that your view of anyone on the stairs is not impeded.
- Make sure ALL baby equipment is in good repair. Check them at regular intervals.
- Make sure clothing and blinds have no long cords that can entrap and choke.
- Never assume the suggested age-range for baby equipment is appropriate for your children. Check each one out carefully and individually.
- Make sure the kids are harnessed into swings, car seats, highchairs, etc. Kiddies can easily undo each other and then get into further mischief.
- Security gates receive an extensive workout when 2 or more are climbing, shaking or pulling on it. Check it regularly to make sure it remains securely bolted into the wall.
- If your children are weight discrepant, change their seating location each outing in the stroller in order to give it equal wear.
- Cribs need to be dismantled when the kids begin to attempt to climb out.
- Check second hand equipment very carefully. Look for outdated safety features, cracks, or rips.
- A baby backpack (with frame) should only be used after a baby can hold its head up.
- Purchase toys that appeal to kids and encourage play.
- Toys belonging to older siblings can be a source of danger.
- Always check out second hand toys very carefully prior to purchasing. Look for small pieces, sharp edges, and broken parts.
- Crib mobiles are not toys and need to be removed from the crib when a baby can reach it.
- Regularly check the toys for missing parts, chips, and cracks. Our children put a lot of play, stress and strain on toys and as a result, the toys may not last as long as if only one child was playing with them.
In the Vehicle
- Teach everyone to stand clear when closing ANY doors.
- Discourage the slamming of doors. Someone could get hurt or fingers caught.
- While fastening one child into a car, the other(s) can disappear in a flash. Put all the children loose in the car, and then buckle in one at a time.
- NEVER leave children alone in a running car. They can get loose and put the car in gear.
- ALWAYS put your car in “park” or turn it off when someone is disembarking.
- If you have to leave the car while escorting one child up to a friend’s house, take the ignition key with you.
- Play a road game of teaching the kids to identify road signs, e.g. danger, one-way signs, railroad tracks, etc.
- Be aware that with everyone sitting close to each other in car seats, it is very easy for one to reach over and undo the buckle of the next one. If you find that one of children has unbuckled the other DON’T PANIC! Use your voice to tell your child to stand still. Pull your vehicle over to the side of road, stop completely and then deal with putting your child back into his seat.
- Do not “store” articles on the floor in front of your children. In a crash these items become flying objects and can inflict serious injury.
- Place your children into swim classes at your earliest possible convenience.
- When swimming with your children keep alert. Accidents occur when the adult is distracted with one child.
- Do NOT leave your children in charge of an older sibling. An 8 -year old cannot properly “watch” two two-year olds.
- Discuss safety equipment and why we need it, e.g. life jackets, pool equipment, etc.
- NEVER let them swim without an adult who can swim being present. If you are hiring day care and you have access to a pool, you may wish to ask if the applicant can swim.
- No pushing or shoving around water as small kids love to do.
- NEVER leave the kids alone in a bathtub. If the phone rings, leave it!
- When your home is one side of the fence around your pool, make sure that the door to the house has a high and sturdy lock on it.
- If you are taking several children to the beach/pool, determine ahead of time who will be responsible for whom. This way each adult knows who will be watching whom.
As the children are older, a level of complacency can be experienced by parents when their multiples are with each other. This level of comfort can too easily create a feeling of safety and security that does not necessarily exist. “Oh, they are together, it shouldn’t be a problem.” Some times this is when kids can get into the most trouble. This is particularly true of the middle, pre-teen and teen years.
General Safety Precautions
- Stress staying together on outings. The kids, too, have a responsibility not to get lost. Train yourself to count heads every few minutes.
- Practice, practice, practice, e.g. Look both ways and holding hands while crossing a road, reading road signs, danger signs, etc.
- Repeat safety rules to them on a regular basis, e.g. knives and scissor are sharp, remember to keep an eye on Daddy/Mommy while we are out.
- Dressing your children in bright colours makes them easier to locate while out in public.
- When walking in unconfined areas (e.g. store, shopping mall), keeping everyone in a stroller or on a wrist harness may be the way to go.
- Stress to them that they shouldn’t cut each other’s hair. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
- Firm reminders of safety rules with consistent “time out” reinforcement or infractions.
- Remember that some things are just not negotiable, e.g. car seat belts!
- Teach them identifying landmarks in the neighbourhood so they can find or direct someone home.
- Teach them their phone number and area code as soon as they are able to learn. They also need to know your first names and their last names. If someone gets lost, it is important for them to know your first and last names.
- When completing a difficult task, e.g. climbing a climber, encouraging them to “concentrate” on what they are doing helps them not to be distracted.
- Multiples often attempt to “change” each other’s diapers. Be aware!
- Remember that your younger children are NOT the responsibility of your older children. A ten-year-old cannot adequately look after and make responsible decisions for 2 or 3 four-year-olds.
- Never carry your stroller up the stairs with babies in it.
- Never leave babies alone in a stroller.
- Make sure everyone is holding hands BEFORE you cross the street.
- NOTHING beats constant, alert, vigilant adult supervision.