“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”― Fred Rogers
Keeping children safe is our community’s first priority. Parents and guardians, child care providers, teachers, firefighters and medical professionals are some of the many caregivers for Oklahoma’s youngest learners. The services they provide, from comfort and guidance to professional aid, are essential to their wellbeing. November is National Child Safety Month and Protection Month, and now is the perfect time to prepare.
Reevaluate routines, double-check precautionary measures or seek services with the following eight areas to consider:
Put safe sleep theory into practice: Follow best practices to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), including putting babies to sleep on a firm, safety-approved mattress, only placing them to sleep on their backs and avoiding loose items in the crib like blankets and stuffed animals. SIDS deaths tend to increase during colder winter months, according to data from the National Institutes of Health, a fact that may correlate with babies’ inability to regulate body temperature well, especially as heavy blankets or layers of clothing are added. See more information here about seasonal issues associated with SIDS. Consider attending our training via Zoom, “How to Create a Safe Sleep Environment for Your Baby.” The next session is Oct. 21 but it is offered throughout the year as part of our monthly offerings. Register here.
Properly secure furniture: Dressers, bookshelves, appliances, TVs and other household items can be hidden hazards. More than 500 children have died in the past two decades from tip-over furniture accidents, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in addition to thousands of injuries. Be aware of children’s tendency to climb and pull down items, supervise them closely and anchor furniture to the wall when possible.
Be mindful of seasonal decorations: Children’s curiosity about shiny new holiday decorations can lead to poisoning or injury. Avoid leaving Christmas lights within reach, for example, as strangulation and elocution can occur. See a list of precautions here from BabyCenter.com, which includes a note of caution about seasonal plants like mistletoe, the increased fire risk of candles and why some wrapping papers should be avoided. If you are choosing toys this holiday season, see our blog for six safety tips, from avoiding pill batteries to choosing items with eye safety in mind.
Get certified or renew your CPR and first aid certification: CPR and first aid training can save a life. While child care providers must follow specific requirements, parents also benefit from knowing how to help children in emergency situations. The American Red Cross offers courses in Oklahoma City and throughout our state; find a class here. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CPR and first aid training is the only in-person course
we offer at Rainbow Fleet; that’s how important it is to continue educating the public about these techniques with hands-on instruction. Our course was developed in partnership with the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. The next session will be hosted Oct. 16. Register here.
Prevent house fires and test equipment: Oct. 3 is the beginning of Fire Prevention Week. Take the opportunity to test fire alarms and make sure fire extinguishers are easily accessible, unexpired and in working order. Review procedures with your co-workers and family, including an escape plan and what would happen in the event of a fire. Have a fire drill on-site to practice.
Make family wellness appointments: As you’re looking at your family’s fall calendar, plan ahead for medical screenings. Catch up on any missed appointments, including childhood vaccines, by scheduling with your pediatrician or primary care provider. Getting regular dental checkups at least twice a year is also advisable. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends children’s vision screenings at least every other year, including before toddlers reach school age or at any time there are concerns. Find more information about children’s eye care here.
Get a flu shot: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists getting a flu shot is the single best way to prevent the flu. CDC guidance recommends an annual flu vaccine for anyone ages 6 months and older. Babies and immunocompromised individuals who cannot be vaccinated depend on their caregivers to protect them by being fully immunized. The COVID vaccine is also available for ages 12 and up.
Teach children to know their community helpers: Help children recognize community helpers as safe adults who can help in an emergency. Hiding from firefighters, police officers or medical personnel can complicate an emergency. Meeting first responders helps children know who to expect, which can bring calm to a scary situation. See below for an opportunity to trick or treat with us and meet some soon.
Community resources are available to help keep families safe. Several of our local agency friends and partners will be present at Trick or Treat for Rainbow Fleet, a free carnival taking place from 5:30 to 7:30 on Oct. 21. The Caring Van will be present with information about immunizations, along with other community organizations.
If you need help finding a solution to a safety or wellness issue, contact Carri Hicks, Rainbow Fleet CEO, at email@example.com so we can connect you with a related agency.