Safety tips are something everyone thinks they have a good handle on.
But there are always some that never cross our minds and those are the ones that usually give us the most peace of mind once we start implementing them.
None of the tips listed here are going to blow your mind. But they are practical and ones I use or have learned from others.
I also conferred with my husband who is a police officer. So although this list is not conclusive, it should be a good starting place.
Before we dive in, I want to be clear, these safety tips are not meant to fear-monger you in any way. I will not read posts or watch videos that do, so I will not do that to you.
But I want to remind you that there ARE dangerous people out there. I am seeing it more and more. Just this past year, two of my friend’s sons were each approached by someone with scary intentions.
We may never be able to protect our children all the way, but we can do our best.
Also, I tend to use the pronoun “you” a lot. It is by no way meant to insult your intelligence or to imply you know nothing and I’m the expert.
“You” is just an easier way for me to get these points across. Trust me, I need these reminders just as much as the next person. 🙂
So, with ALL that said, let’s get started.
Safety Tip #1: Put down the phone.
I want to start with the simplest tip. It might not sound like much but trust me, it is.
Put your phone down. Let that sink in and not roll off your memory as something you’ve read over and over and know already.
In a world where everyone has a phone, distraction has been the number one tool used by those with devious motives. I am guilty of being distracted by it, everyone is.
All it takes is one text, one call and you’re attention is drawn away. You might not even realize how long you have been distracted.
But if you make it a habit to tuck your phone away while out with your kids, the chances of you being aware of your surroundings are nearly guaranteed.
Which leads to my next point:
Safety Tip #2: Be aware of your surroundings.
This is something I struggle with the most, especially when I’m with my kids. I can be very one-track-minded and when I’m in a hurry, it’s worse.
But I have made a conscious effort to look around when I’m out and about. I even make eye contact with people so they know I’m aware. Because if someone is scoping out a victim, the chances of him targeting a mom on her game, is slim to none.
You can also teach your children to be aware by asking them where you parked, point out landmarks to help them remember, things like that.
Being aware can save your life, quite literally. I’ll give you an example:
When my kids were younger, I took the youngest two to a park in a neighborhood by a friend’s house. We were the only ones there and it was a small park so I felt pretty good about being able to keep a good eye on my kids.
But we weren’t there 20 minutes when a car backed into the parking spot right next to our van, on the driver’s side.
That was my first red flag. Most people prefer to park in the closest spots to the park or at the very least, separate from other cars in the lot. Not this guy.
So I kept an eye on him. And he on us. I noticed him glance our way more than once but he never got out of his vehicle except to check something in his trunk.
When it was time to go, I was gripped with an overwhelming apprehension as we headed towards our van and his car. I made a last-minute decision to load the girls in the opposite door, climb in behind them, shut and lock the doors, and climb into the front seat from the back. All this while never taking my eyes off the guy, in case he started getting out of his car. I doubt he was expecting me to climb in the way I did but I didn’t wait around long enough for him to switch to plan B.
We left right away and I kid you not, he pulled out behind us and followed us all the way to my friend’s house where he finally drove on.
No, I didn’t get his license plate number, I was too shaken to think that far ahead. I just wanted to get as far away as possible from this guy.
But I did learn firsthand that being aware is so important. I’m glad I didn’t find out the hard way.
Safety Tip #3: There’s safety in numbers.
If I had gone to the park that day with a friend, that guy might not have stuck around. But I was a young mother alone with two small children. A prime target, I would guess.
To be honest, I rarely take my girls to the park unless I’m with a friend or the park is empty. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun for my children, but if there’s only me trying to keep an eye on three fun-loving children and there are 20 other kids for them to mingle amongst, I’m going to have an anxiety attack trying to keep a constant eye on them.
But having another adult present to help keep an eye on the kids is usually the best scenario all the way around, as long as having them along doesn’t distract you from what’s most important.
Another thing to add to this point, when you have several children to look after, having a buddy system can be a great help.
Employing older children to help with the younger ones means extra eyes on the littler kids and helps you out, too.
Safety Tip #4: Hold child’s hand or keep them in cart.
This is probably the one thing I don’t have to add to this list. Everyone knows you hold a child’s hand when you are out and about with them.
But when you are in a situation where the child tends to tug free or you need your hands for something, keeping them in the cart is the next best thing.
How many times have you been in a store and heard a notice over the PA about a missing child in the store?
Of course, every mother fears the worst: kidnapping. But chances are, it’s just a kid who wandered off. It happens so quickly.
I always felt safer having the kids in the cart when they were younger. Of course, this only works if they can stay seated.
As they got older, I had them walk alongside the cart but they had to have one hand on the cart. This helped keep them from wandering off to check out every shiny object we passed in the store. But it also kept them close while I located items on my list.
Safety Tip #5: Practice stall safety.
If there are no other tips you keep from this post, please take this one to heart.
I have seen too many adults leave tiny children outside their stalls while the adult uses the restroom. ANYONE can snatch that child and be gone before the adult has time to react.
I even had a friend tell me their teen son was approached at the sink by a man who was trying to find out if he was alone. We really cannot be too careful.
If you cannot take your child in the stall with you, then send them in a neighboring one with strict instructions they are not to leave their stall until you knock on their door telling them you are finished and they can come out.
That is the practice my girls and I use. Every time.
Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not you should let your children go into a multi-stalled bathroom without you.
The general rule of thumb for us is, I go with them in every restroom when we are in a public place. ESPECIALLY if they have more than one exit like at rest stops, etc. Those bathrooms are notorious for traffickers.
I have a personal friend who encountered one trying to lure her son back into the men’s bathroom at an oasis where there was another exit on the other side of the building.
Again, not trying to scare you, but inform you. These things ARE happening.
Now, there are times, like when we are at Aldi’s, for example, where I’ll let my oldest go alone to the two-stalled bathroom but I wait just outside where I can see everyone who goes in.
Safety Tip #6: Have children memorize their information.
One of a mother’s worst fear is losing their child in a public place but kids can be sneaky and one second of a turned head is all they need to disappear.
I did this to my mother, my kids have done it to me; I’m sure most moms have their own story of turning around only to realize their child is not with them.
Hopefully, if this happens to you, a concerned adult will come across your wandering child and will help them find you. But this could be done much faster if the child knew your first and last name, phone number, and address.
Most everyone has a cell phone. One quick call and you could be reunited in no time.
But if a child is left without any knowledge of their personal information, it could be difficult to reunite you in a timely manner.
It just takes time and repetition but this practice should be a priority, even before they start school.
When we taught our children our address and phone number, we put it to a catchy song they knew well and they learned it in no time.
(If you have some effective ways you taught your child how to memorize their information, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!)
Safety Tip #7: Have a family password.
Sadly, there have been situations where a “friend” of the family picks up a child from school, etc. without the parent’s knowledge and those children are often taken advantage of because that adult used trust or familiarity to get in the door.
Because of that, we have a very small number of people who our children are allowed to leave places with. Most of that list is comprised of local family members. But just in case, we have chosen a password for them to use as a safety precaution.
If I need one of those friends to meet up with my children for any reason, I try to get a message to the girls first. If they have not received a heads-up from me, and a friend tries to take them home, the girls are to ask them for the password. (The adult SHOULD have already uttered it to them before this point if I was the one who sent them.)
When they hear the password, they know all is well. If not, (I may have forgotten to give it to the adult, due to an emergency situation, etc.) then they can call me and I will either tell the adult the password or talk to my child directly. (This was before our oldest received her cellphone.)
Having a password eliminates any insecurity on our girl’s behalf and stabilizes the right kind of trust for the adult taking them under their care. Plus it gives the shy child a less painful way to say no by putting the blame on mom and dad when they reject the ride home.
As a child, it can be very intimidating to tell an adult no. Make it as easy as possible for them.
Also, have a code your child can use when they are apart from you. One that alerts you that something is not right and your child wants to go home. This safety tip is imperative!
Think back on your own childhood. How many times were you somewhere and you wished you weren’t? Or you wanted to go home but didn’t feel like you could call your mom and say, “Come get me.”
If your child is caught in a situation where they feel they cannot talk openly to you, it is most likely because someone else is listening. It could be a friend who tried to get them to do something they aren’t comfortable with. Or an adult. Either way, they need a way of escape that doesn’t compromise them.
Again, you need to think about things from a child’s perspective.
An adult can manipulate a child into believing anything. But if that child is uncomfortable, make it EASY for them to reach out to you in a way that doesn’t make them hesitate in the presence of others.
It should be a code that anyone listening might not pick up. For example: “What time is it?” or “Can you bring my red sweater when you pick me up?”
You can then tell the child you’re on your way and the child can pass on the message that “something came up and mom said I need to come home”.
Having these codes established will give you and your child peace of mind that you can be there for them even when someone else might not want you to be.
Safety Tip #8: Have a form for your child when they babysit.
One way to keep your teen safe is to teach them safety techniques for when they are away from you.
If an emergency situation happens, are they prepared? Do they have the information they need to get help?
Having a form for the parents of the child to fill out will help your teen be well-equipped in case of an emergency. It also gives them something to reference when adrenaline causes them to forget information they may already know.
This form should have all the basic information for the home they are staying in, as well as phone numbers for the children’s parents, any known allergies, etc.
I have a printable form set you can download for free that has all the information your child should need if he/she is out babysitting. You can get that here:
Safety Tip #9: Protect your child’s phone.
When our oldest went into high school, we knew we needed a more reliable means of communication.
We had bought her a watch that allows her to call and send pre-made texts but it was very basic and we didn’t like that she couldn’t talk with us without it being on speaker. Plus, it rarely had reception at the school. It just wasn’t cutting it.
But I was 110% against getting our daughter a smartphone. We knew the online dangers teens face. We faced them ourselves back when there were minimal opportunities available.
But we finally met an associate who knew exactly what we were looking for and gave us the pros and cons of the types of phones available for teens.
She told us that flip phones were not like they used to be. Nowadays you can access email and the internet on a flip phone with zero ways to monitor or restrict. That was definitely not what we were looking for.
However, Verizon has a really nice setup where we can monitor not only our daughter’s usage but screen messages/calls, approve every number in her phone, approve all apps and shut off wifi at a set time every day.
This was definitely more along the lines of what we were looking for. As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children navigate this world of technology and with online predators, bullying and porn at the ready, we cannot be too careful.
We decided on getting the phone and have been very happy with the amount of control we have as parents which allows our daughter plenty of options without all the temptation that a smartphone can offer a teenager.
As we set it up, we sat down with our daughter to go over any apps she wanted on her phone. We talked about online dangers and why we won’t allow her to have some of the apps her friends have, answered all of her questions and did our best to teach her the ins and outs of responsible phone usage.
Being open with our children helps them to make informed decisions on their own even when we are not around to help them. We want them to be able to know what to look for and what to avoid and why.
Every night our daughter checks her phone in with us and there are rules as to where she is allowed to take her phone. One day those rules might change but for now, while she’s still learning to balance, we will keep one hand on her bike until we feel she’s ready for us to let go and pedal on her own.
Safety Tip #10: Get a smart doorbell.
One of the best things we ever did for our peace of mind was to buy a doorbell with a built-in camera. It has allowed us to leave our home knowing we can access a view anytime we needed.
Smart doorbells are gaining traction with people tired of package theft or those who just want to know who is at their house when it’s vacant.
For us, having a smart doorbell meant an extra safety measure for our children whenever they are home alone.
After shopping around we decided on the RING doorbell which not only alerts you to motion but records it, too. It also has a feature where those in your neighborhood who also have Ring doorbells can share things of interest or concern. It’s a nice feature to have.
With this doorbell, if someone rings the door, we have the option of talking to them directly or just monitoring them as they drop off packages, etc.
Our girls know they are never to answer the door if we are not home but with this doorbell, we can tell them if it’s Grandma and they can let her in, without them ever conversing with whoever is on the other side of the door.
AND, a lot of home insurance companies will lower your rates if your home has one. (win/win)
If a smart doorbell isn’t for you, at the very least, get a dog.
We have both. 🙂
What are some safety tips your family practices? Tell me about them in the comments below and don’t forget to grab your Babysitter’s Info Set!
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