Tips and Tricks for Teaching Kids About Home Safety



When we see a child involved in a mishap, we might say, ‘What were the parents thinking?’ As our lives get busier and busier and the number of families with both parents working full time increases, teaching your child what to do when things go wrong at home is a vitally important skill that will help them at every stage of their life.

If everyone in the home is conscious of safety, things are likely to be a lot easier. However, kids don’t tend to have the concept of safety at the front of their minds very often. In fact, little ones are usually oblivious of danger, with older kids seeming to practically live for it. Running with scissors and bombing in the pool aren’t the only ways kids scare parents. Here are some tips and tricks for helping your kids with basic safety guidelines and skills.

Some basic safety skills

Kids, especially older ones, hate to be told ‘don’t do this’ and ‘don’t do that’, however sometimes it’s the only way. They have to know not to let anyone in the house and not to answer the phone unless they know who’s calling.

Remind them that they have to stay in the house and not go out to the garage or shed where there’s likely to be dangerous tools or poison. Start by introducing this concept slowly, and taking your kids into the garage or shed and making sure they know that they’re only to be in there with adult supervision. Newer systems have cameras connected to the Internet so you can actually keep an eye on older kids while you’re at work.

You’ll also have to let them know how to sound the alarm if something does go wrong. With even primary school children carrying mobile phones these days, it’s important that your kids know when is an appropriate time to call ‘000’ in an emergency, and are able to do so.

Setting guidelines for your kids, like no swimming or biking or skateboarding without an adult, is another simple reminder for them about how to be safe. This way, they can still participate in the activities and sports they love, without having to compromise their safety.

Making sure to reduce hazards

Another kind of safety requires you to check your home for potential problems. If power points are loose or not working, it’s important that you get them fixed as soon as possible. Cords and wires are everywhere around computers and televisions – especially if the kids love playing games or streaming movies. It’s important to make sure that the wires are all properly attached and out of the way so toddlers, seniors or pets don’t get tangled up.

Leaving toys all over the bedroom, the playroom or the lounge room is aggravating and untidy, and you should let your children known from a young age that leaving toys around the place is a safety hazard. Anything left on the floor that people are not expecting to be in the way could trip them up. Children need to develop a sense of responsibility for their own possessions, including being both safe and tidy.

Bathrooms and kitchens can be particularly hazardous areas to children. Water on the floor is a real danger to everyone, and running and sliding on it can result in serious injury. You might have to use your kitchen for toddler activities like finger-painting, but children are never too young to learn they have to be careful with sharp objects such as knives and scissors. 

Teaching your kids about safety

Like a lot of good behaviours, children learn by watching their parents. So, if you want your children to be safe, they will learn by seeing you always lock doors and close windows, either when you leave the house or when there is just one person home. If you’re careless about locking doors and windows, that will be quietly teaching children the wrong lesson.

Safety skills can be learned by playing ‘what if …’ games. This is role-playing that allows youngsters who are left at home to learn what to do in various situations, suggests John C. Worzbyt in his book, Teaching Kids to Care and to be Careful: A Practical Guide for Teachers, Counselors, and Parents. Some children will be reluctant to play this game, but press on and they might start to enjoy using their imagination! Ring the doorbell and get them to pretend that you’re a stranger. Make sure they know what to say and not to open the door. This is the kind of practice that will ingrain in them what to do if a real stranger does actually show up at the front door.

You can also create role-playing games with emergencies. What should they do if one of them is hurt playing? Call an adult, and if none are around, they should know to ring emergency services. What should they do if a fire breaks out? Even if your house has great smoke alarms, they should know to get out and call the fire brigade once they’re outside. Of course, adults should participate in these fire drills as well, and everyone should know how to escape from your house if there is a fire.

Online safety

This can be the hardest to teach, because social media seem so intimate that we imagine we’re talking to our real friends, even though this is often not the case. Even with strong parental controls, personal details can slip out when children aren’t aware of the basic rules of internet safety.

They should know never to post personal information such as their age, address or phone number online. They should also know not to reply to any stranger or click on any link they do not know. Kids learn real skill with keyboards and screens very early these days, however this knowledge does not mean they know how the world works! Thieves would love to know that you’ll be at the beach for three weeks starting in late December, or that the whole family is going interstate to visit grandparents for the first week of the school holidays. Teach the kids that family plans should never be put on social media.

Moving with the times to teach kids about home safety

One time, kids had to only know how to lock the front door. Now, however, they also need to know how to call emergency services, stay safe on the Internet and how to operate any security alarms protecting your house. They have a lot to learn, but a little effort can make everyone safer.