Tips for keeping your kids safe

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According to SafeKids.org, preventable injuries kill almost 1 million children around the world every year. This is not to scare you but make you aware that putting safety measures in place is an essential step to ensuring that your family, especially your kids, will be happy and safe in your new neighbourhood and new home.

Here are a few tips to keep them safe at home and on the streets:

Home safety

You may discover that your new house in Manitoba is vastly different from the one you had in your home country. Some may be new to some home features such as thermostats, fireplaces, or water heaters. But aside from these new equipment, there are regular hazards at home that you should watch out for especially when you have babies or toddlers with you. These child safety tips are adapted from the CMAS Canada Home Safety for Children brochure:

  1. Plan ahead for potential hazards. Check locks, windows, electrical cords, and furniture. Child-proof your electrical outlets and cover them when not in use.
  2. Make sure that your child cannot open doors, drawers, cupboards, reach balconies and windows (especially if your unit is on a higher level in an apartment building) or switch on gas (stoves). Use window guards and window stops.
  3. Install anti-scald or shut off devices on faucets and reset your water heater to 49C (120F).
  4. Make sure hot liquids are out of reach and that your kids are at a safe distance when you are cooking. Position hot pots and pans out of reach.
  5. Lock all medication, cleaning products and other toxic chemicals in a cabinet.
  6. Keep cribs and beds away from windows.
  7. Bolt safety gates to the wall at the top and bottom of the stairs if you have them in your home.

If you live in an apartment, check out “Are you a tenant or landlord?” on the Manitoba Residential Tenancies Branch website to know which utilities and safety features you can ask your landlord to provide or help you with. If you are first-time homeowner, go this page on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website to find out the things you need to install or maintain to keep your home safe.

In Manitoba, you can leave your child unsupervised at home starting at 12 years old. However, make sure that you have set up safeguards, prepared necessary supplies like food or a first-aid kit, and that your child is ready. If your child is 10 or older, the Canada Safety Council has a Home Alone Program that can teach them the basics of staying safe at home for short periods of time. The course covers topics from basic first aid to internet safety. Check the website for course locations. Here is a video on child safety for parents with children old enough to be left alone at home from Learning Junction:

Another parental concern may be sending kids to school during extreme weather. In Manitoba, schools are rarely cancelled during winter time even in extreme weather conditions. Read How to keep school kids safe in extreme weather to know how to prepare and what to look out for during these conditions.

Street safety

Your young children may like running and playing outside, or they need to walk to school, or cross the street every day. To keep them safe, you will need to teach them pedestrian safety. Explain to them that cars belong to the road and people belong on sidewalks. These street safety tips are adapted from CMAS Canada Street Safety for Children brochure:

  1. Teach your kids to Stop, Look and Listen before they cross the street. Instruct them to cross at intersections with traffic signals, marked crosswalks and stop signs.
  2. Tell them NEVER to run into the road after a ball, or any other object (or pet).
  3. Set a good example and obey the pedestrian rules yourself.
  4. Until you feel that your child is able to cross the street unsupervised, you or an adult caregiver should cross with them.
  5. Dress your child in bright colours and reflective items so they can be seen by drivers.
  6. As your child gets old enough to walk to school alone, plan a safe route to school and walk with them until they know it.
  7. Identify all places that could be dangerous like train tracks, busy intersections, or areas where cars travel at faster speeds and tell them to avoid these places.
  8. Teach your child to always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, tell them to walk facing traffic and to walk as far away from the street or roadside as possible.
  9. When crossing the road, tell them to wait until all traffic stops. Instruct them to wait for the image of a person walking to light up on the intersection sign, then look to the left and right, before crossing the street.

For more street safety tips that your kids will love to read, go to Elmer’s Safety Village which features Elmer the Safety Elephant.

Also, refer to the Manitoba.ca site for official rules and regulations for booster seats and child car seats.

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Community Resources

The Caring for Kids website has a tips and checklists section for easy reference. The website provides safety tips as well as health tips from Canadian pediatricians.

The Active Safe Kids Manitoba site promotes safe play and the importance of using protective equipment for sports and recreational activities.

For more tips , visit Safe Kids Worldwide. The Canada Safety Council website also has a host of resources on home safety, from topics such as staying safe in school to keeping safe online.

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