Educating your children on neighborhood safety is essential as children are often vulnerable. As children can be easily distracted and trusting, it can be easy for an innocent mistake to have disastrous consequences. To teach your children about playing safely outside in the neighborhood, we have compiled the following safety tips and suggestions.
Things to look for to see if your neighborhood is safe
In your current neighborhood, or the neighborhood you are considering relocating to, there are a few factors to consider in assessing the neighborhood’s safety.
Firstly, it is essential to build a relationship with the neighbors to understand any risk factors and have a well-knit community who can look out for one another. This is important as the neighbors can act as resources for one another, such as setting up groups like Community Watch.
Secondly, if there is a lack of signage or lighting in the neighborhood, it is suggested to put up additional signage or lighting. This will help ensure that children who are playing outside in the later hours can be kept safe.
Thirdly, you can install a security system as this can enable a video recording in case of emergency of an event that has taken place. If you live in a neighborhood that may have potential risks of crime, or dangers for children, a possible solution would be to install a security system as it is always better to be safer than sorry.
At what age should they be able to go certain distances from their house?
When determining safe distances for children to venture away from their house, there is no one-size-fits-all option. It is recommended that this decision be made between yourself, and your children based on your child’s age and level of maturity. If you choose to allow your children to venture further distances, ensure that they can handle emergencies. With younger children, it is recommended that they remain closer to home. Older children may have more leeway as they may be more responsible.
Things they need to look out for when children play outside
To play safely in the neighborhood, they need to be armed with the right tools:
- It is essential to emphasize looking both ways before entering or crossing the street and listen to ensure it is safe. If their toys roll onto the road, only pick them up once it is safe to do so.
- It is important to remind children never to approach or pet a dog if their owner is not present and provides permission to do so, as dogs can become alarmed and bite.
- Create safe zones for children to know where they can play and where they are not. This can include a certain distance or marker within the neighborhood that they cannot cross. If you reside near a forested area or body of water, always supervise the child as they may become lost or fall into the water if playing too closely.
- Never approach a car if a stranger pulls over asking for help, as adults typically do not ask children for help.
Who your kids need to contact when you are not available?
Another tool for keeping children safe in their neighborhood is to create an emergency plan as a family. This plan can be incorporated with familiar routines so that children are well versed and confident when faced with potential danger. In an emergency, it is essential to teach children how and when to use 9-1-1. If they cannot find an adult, they can call 9-1-1 if the situation deems appropriate.
As part of your family’s emergency plan, it is essential to include the following components: a code word, defining a stranger, what to do if they are being followed or attacked, and safe adults.
- Firstly, a child who is in danger to alert parents or guardians or for trusted adults to communicate with the child can use a code word.
- Subsequently, the child must tell who a trusted adult is and who is a stranger. The child, if being followed, can buy themselves some time by running in the opposite direction. If an adult is attacking them, they can yell phrases such as “I don’t know you,” which will attract the attention of other adults.
- Lastly, if the child cannot find a trusted adult, a safe option would be to go to a mother who has children until they can seek help.
- It is important to remind children always to be aware of their surroundings. In case of emergency, it is essential to know where they can run to or who they can speak to.
- Having your child’s name on their belongings may be cute or may help them not to lose their items; however, this is especially dangerous. If children have identifying information on them, it is easier for strangers to befriend them as they already know their names. This can include items such as their clothing, backpacks, and other accessories that they may carry.
No matter the age of your children, it is never too early or too late to teach them safety when playing outside in the neighborhood. Parents and guardians can ensure that their communities are safe by forming alliances with neighbors and creating safety measures where there may be a lack thereof.
Determining distances and boundaries that children can safely play in can be determinant on the child and their level of responsibility and maturity. Children can be taught safety measures such as looking both ways before entering the road to ensure that they are not accidentally running into harm’s way. Families can put together emergency plans and teach children about stranger danger and other risk factors present in their communities.
Parents can come together with neighbors to form a community watch that can rely on one another to keep the community safe.
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