I recently taught a private First Aid course at my home. The last one at my home for a while actually - you can read those details in a previous blog post. However someone said the most interesting thing during the class. He said "This must be the safest house on the block". My first reaction was to fall over laughing, but he had a good point. Since I teach First Aid, and the best way to prevent illness and injury to children is to practice good child safety, I had to ask myself: Do I really have the safest house on the block?
Most likely I don't. But it is not due to lack of safety knowledge or good intentions. My house is most likely the same as everyone else's. I have outlet covers and cabinet locks. Medications are stored up high in cabinets. We keep pens, markers and any pointy objects out of reach. My older children's toys with small pieces are kept in their rooms and out of common play areas. We have gates and keep doors closed to rooms we don't want little kids to go play in. We have car seats installed with the LATCH system and since all our children are under the age of 13 they all sit in the back two rows of my minivan. Young children are not left unattended except for brief restroom trips or when safely tucked in for naps or bedtime and yes I'm always peeking in when anyone naps for a really long time.
I have two First Aid kits in my car and a good stockpile of First Aid supplies in my house. I have a Fire Extinguisher, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and I don't cook on the front two burners of my electric stove except for holidays since my youngest two can reach the burners. I did buy an oven lock for my wall oven, but was unable to install it as it didn't fit the style of oven I have. Since my kids like to help in the kitchen I puchased a Learning Tower so they can safely stand on something to reach the kitchen counters without worry that they may fall.
Sounds really safe, right?
Well the kids love to pull the outlet covers out of the outlets. They think it is more fun to push kitchen chairs around the house to reach things they are not supposed to get into and I occasionally set off the smoke detector when I'm cooking pasta. But we are an average household. My kids are no more or less safe than my neighbor's kids. They do remember to wear bike helmets when we go riding and they know to wear their seatbelts in the car. We are no safer or at a lesser risk for injury because I teach First Aid than any other normal household with children would be.
As parents we try to provide a safe environment for our kids. We crawl on our hands and knees looking for hazards when our children first begin to crawl. We read books and follow childproofing checklists but for some kids no matter how diligent we are as parents, they may have an accident at home. In some ways it is best not to think we have the safest house on the block because then we become too overconfident and we can miss something that could be a hazard.
So do I have the safest house on the block? No, I don't. But I have a safe home for my kids just like many of my neighbors. I have no worries about my kids going to spend time at their homes just as they feel safe sending their kids to mine.