JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
November is National Child Safety Month and Joint Base San Antonio child caregivers have some tips to help parents keep kids safe year round.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintended injuries have historically been the leading cause of death in children ages 19 and younger. An unintended injury can include burns, drowning, falling, poisoning and motor vehicle accidents. With most of these injuries being preventable, parents and caregivers can play a life-saving role in protecting children from injuries.
Understanding the basics of each developmental milestone can help parents understand the risks associated at each developmental stage, said Mary Sharp, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Child Development Center training and curriculum specialist. The greatest concern for infants and newborns is their sleeping environment. Toddlers, on the other hand, are more at risk for injuries related to vehicle safety, choking hazards and falls as they learn to walk.
“Infants should sleep on their backs with no blankets or toys in the bed,” Sharp said. “Additionally, parents should never co-sleep with their child to reduce the risk of sudden infant death or SIDs as it’s more commonly referred to.”
Likewise, Sharp cautioned parents to have gates set up at stairs and entrances to areas that might be dangerous for children. Latches on dishwashers and cabinets should be secured because the contents could be dangerous for children. All plugs and outlets should be covered and extension cords should be out of the way. Checking the floor for small items and toys for missing parts is another vital safety prevention measure parents can take to reduce their child’s risk of choking.
Another safety hazard for toddlers is learning to eat solid food.
“Oftentimes, toddlers take bites that are too big for them because they’re still learning how to eat solid food,” said Sharp. “As parents it’s important to cut their food into bite-sized pieces and make sure their food is soft enough for them to chew and swallow with harm of choking.”
It’s also important for parents to have a plan in case of emergency.
“Establishing a designated meeting place and preparing an emergency bag are proactive things parents can do to help ensure their child’s safety in an emergency situation,” Sharp said. “Also having a list of important emergency numbers, such as Poison Control, can save precious time in emergency situations.”
There are also several resources available to parents who want to learn more about child safety.
The New Parent Support Program (NPSP) is another resource designed for active duty military members and their families. The program offers expectant parents and parents of newborn and young children under the age of 3 the opportunity to learn new parenting skills or improve old ones.
Another component of the NPSP is child car seat safety.
Connie Wilson, 359th MDOS Family Advocacy Program assistant and senior certified child passenger safety technician, presents two classes, “Car Seat 101” and “Curbside Car Seat Clinic,” that focus on safety.
In “Car Seat 101,” she educates parents and expectant parents on state laws regarding child safety restraints and gives them the tools to know if a car seat is safe, fits their child and vehicle and is easy to use. During the “Curbside Clinic,” Wilson shows parents how to install a seat correctly.
For more information on these and other programs available to parents, contact the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military & Family Readiness Center at 221-2705, JBSA-Lackland at 671-3722 or JBSA-Randolph at 652-5321.