6 May 12

Every summer in Florida the evening news stations report on a half dozen child drownings in private homes with swimming pools. Sometimes a mother or other adult who was watching the child, usually a toddler, became preoccupied  and forgot about the child for a few minutes. It ends with that child dead in the water.

There are a number of potential deadly hazards in a home and, living alone, we often forget  about them. Whether you have visitors for a few hours or a few days, if they have children with them, it should be your responsibility to make sure your home is safe for them.

In the case of the swimming pool, my sister makes sure that a responsible adult is assigned pool duty. He or she sits by the pool and prevents young ones from wandering into the area. Someone can give the pool guard breaks or take over the duty for a while. It should be standard operating procedure at every home with a pool.

Small children can also drown in only a few inches of water, such as a bathtub, a small, plastic pool or a little decorative fish pond so keep those in mind also.

Another  problem is hazardous chemicals stored where kids, usually toddlers, open those doors under the kitchen sink or in the bathroom. And they like to sample the product. In some cases it’s too late to keep the child from dying from swallowing a lethal dose. Put dangerous items out of reach or place them in locked cabinets. That could be medicines, make-up kits, or any chemicals used in unintended ways. And clear away from the reach of toddlers small items that they could choke on. That could be coins, small toys, metal screws.

If you have to respond to a child in distress,  you should call 911, then start first aid if you know how.  You should know what to do  before something happens. So take that course in first aid from the Red Cross and you can respond to an emergency while the ambulance is en route.

Every child should be under supervision when they are in your home.

If you have a gun or guns, make sure they are locked in a safe place, along with the ammo. If you have a permit or use a gun for home protection, have it with you or lock it up. And remember, always check your weapon to ensure that it’s empty, or loaded. Remember, the first rule for any gun owner is don’t point it at any person unless you intend to shoot-or shoot if the criminal makes a hostile move toward you and you are in fear for your life. Don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to pull it.

The success of your effort is measured by your determination to always be aware of potential hazards in your home that could cause death or permanent damage to a child. A child can’t determine if an object can cause it pain. That’s up to you.

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