As I wave goodbye to my daughter, a safety checklist goes through my mind. Does she have our telephone number memorized? Did she brush her teeth? Will she remember to put her seatbelt on? Like most other parents, I do everything in my power to ensure my child’s well-being. When you add that parental instinct to the fact that I am a Personal Injury Lawyer, you could probably refer to me as paranoid.
Sadly, every day at work I am faced with tragedy and disaster. Somebody’s child was injured in an automobile accident. A father was killed in a boating accident. A mother has surgery and must be taken care of by her teenaged daughter post-op. Everyday life for everyday people.
Some days it seems like it’s only a matter of time before tragedy strikes close to home. But many tragedies can be prevented. There are in fact many things, which are often overlooked, that parents can do to minimize or even eliminate threats to their child’s safety. My job as a lawyer is to look back at each event I am faced with and try to piece together what went wrong, who caused the accident and what should have been done? As a Mom, it is inevitable that I put this knowledge to work every day in my own home to try to protect my children from preventable accidents.
As a parent, as well as a Personal Injury Attorney here on the Treasure Coast who deals with tragedies daily, I feel it is my duty to share some simple suggestions and things to do in order to try prevent tragedies and accidents that often get overlooked.
Who is your child with?
At preschools, schools and aftercare/enrichment programs, the dangers are usually associated with adults surrounding your kids. Are the employees qualified? Have background checks and drug tests been administered? Is your child happy when you pick them up at the end of the day?
Do you feel uncomfortable with the volunteer in your child’s classroom? Question the teacher and principal about their presence if you feel uncomfortable. Teach your child, as soon as they can understand, what is good touching and bad touching, and encourage them to tell you if anyone touches them inappropriately. They need to understand that you are their protector, and you will keep them safe. Sadly, a majority of sexual abuse cases today are by an adult that the child knows and trusts.
Is your child’s environment clean and sanitized? Infections have become resistant to antibiotics, so treatment is not always effective. Places where there are lots of adults and children are breeding grounds for bacterial infections. This includes places like schools, enrichment programs, school gyms, lunch rooms, doctor offices, hospitals and even family fun attractions. Some skin infections, like MRSA (methicillin resistant staph aureus), can cause permanent tissue damage, scarring disability and even death. If your child is at the doctor’s office or hospital, insist the healthcare providers wash their hands and not touch anything (like door handles or instruments) before treating your child. Always stay in the room with your child and make sure aseptic technique is followed for every surface your child comes in contact with.
Speaking of medical care, you trust your doctor and pharmacist to make the correct decisions. But sometimes they make mistakes. It is imperative that when your child visits a medical facility that you let the staff know all the vitamins, natural or home remedies you use, in addition to all medicines including over the counter products. This is often over looked and can cause a tragedy if all information isn’t given to your healthcare provider.
As the parent don’t rely on everything to be handed to you. It is your job to get test results, read your child’s hospital chart, make sure doctor’s orders are followed and that nurses are attentive. Make sure the pills the pharmacist dispenses are the correct prescription and dosage. Trust is good, but should not be blind. Be vigilant and watch over those who take the care of your child into their hands. Always get copies of all tests and results and keep them in a file so you have them on hand.
Let’s face it. Kids love playgrounds. But you can’t assume that just because there is a playground, that it is safe. No one is monitoring them every hour to insure safety. When visiting a playground, check it out yourself. Is the equipment rusty? How are the chains on the swing set? Wearing thin? Are there any sharp pieces sticking out of equipment or holes in the ground that could cause a trip when a child is running? What about pieces of wood? Do they look loose or like they are starting to break or splinter?
Are sandboxes or sandy areas clean and free from debris? Most playgrounds in the area can be reserved for parties and bits of glass, sharp objects and bottle caps often don’t make it in the trash cans. Be wise; before you take a seat on the park bench take a through look around.
Away from Home
Kids love to visit friends and neighbors. More importantly they love their freedom and independence, but knowing where they are going and who they are spending time with is vital to your child’s safety.
All too often parents think because their child has a cell phone that they will be safe and call if something happens. The truth is, if something happens your child probably won’t be able to call you! Be sure to get full address of where you child is along with the parents contact information. Let the person watching over your child know if they have any allergies or behavior issues.
Don’t be afraid to ask if there are any guns in the home and if they are safely locked up. Never assume they are! Does the home have trampoline or play set in disrepair or without a safety net? Are there any dogs or dangerous pets in the home? Be sure to talk to your child about these safety concerns before they even go to anyone’s home.
No matter what, your parental instincts are never to be ignored. If you are uncomfortable with your child’s surroundings or people with whom they come in contact with, there is probably a good reason. Never be afraid to ask a teacher, caregiver, medical professional, and parent or neighbor anything that may put your child in harm’s way. Simple common sense, following your instincts and teaching your children to recognize and avoid danger will help to avoid accidents and injuries. As they mature, they will realize that mom’s “paranoia” taught them many valuable lessons of safety in life.
You can see this article in Treasure Coast Parenting Magazine.
Gloria Seidule is a Personal Injury Attorney on the Treasure Coast and the owner of The Law Office of Gloria Seidule located at 2400 SE Federal Highway, Suite 300, Stuart, FL 34994. For more information or to contact Gloria, please call 772-287-1220, e-mail Gloria@GloriaLaw.com or visit www.GloriaLaw.com.