Facility and Risk Management Tips

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20 Tips for keeping children safe during the festive season 

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be a fun, exciting time. However, holiday decorations, parties and cold weather can threaten children.
The holidays are a joyful time of year, but they're also a time of year when you need to be extra-cautious when out and about with your child. Pattie Fitzgerald, founder and creator of Safely Ever After, Inc.,  has provided a list of holiday tips to help keep your children safe while you are preparing for the holidays.
Keep these safety tips in mind while preparing for the holidays:
1. Manage your Christmas tree.
If you have a real tree, ensure the tree stand is always filled with water so the tree doesn't dry out and pose an increased fire hazard. If you buy an artificial tree, make sure it is made from fire-retardant material. Make sure the stand is flat on the ground, and decorate the tree to equally distribute weight.
2. Keep flames away.
Don't leave children alone in a room with lighted candles, matches, lighters, fireplaces, or any other sources of flame or heat.
3. Watch for tempting seasonal decor.
Keep decorations out of reach of children and secured to the wall. Any object small enough to fit through a toilet paper tube can obstruct a child's airway. Closely supervise children if they're helping you decorate, especially when handling lighting, ornaments and breakable objects.
4. Keep plants out of little hands.
Keep mistletoe, holly berries and poinsettias out of reach of children, as each is toxic when ingested.
5. Remember electricity safety.
Use power strips with built-in circuit breakers. Avoid putting too many plugs into one electrical outlet. Keep cords out of the way or behind furniture, and insert electrical outlet covers into unused outlets. Purchase lights with the UL Listed mark, which certifies that the product has been tested to meet safety requirements.
6. Find safe toys.
Make sure your children's toys are age-appropriate and the batteries cannot be easily removed. Batteries shaped like disks, or button batteries, pose a choking risk to young children. Avoid placing gifts under the tree that contain glass, perfume or cologne, poisonous substances or sharp materials.
7. Monitor alcohol in the home.
Keep alcohol out of reach of children. Quickly clean up leftover drinks.
8. Bundle up and use safety gear.
Dress children properly for the weather, making sure that their hands, feet and heads are covered. Supervise children and make sure they wear the correct safety gear for sledding, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and other outdoor activities.
9.  Don't treat public facilities as a “convenient babysitter.” Do not leave your children alone at video arcades, movie theaters, play areas, or other public places. Predators are known to look for unsupervised kids.
10. Always bring young children into the restroom with you. Look for well-lit restrooms in high traffic areas, whenever possible.
11. Statistically, the men's room isn't the safest place for a child to use alone. If you feel comfortable letting your older child (at least 9 years old) use the men's room alone, stand outside the door and call in as your child enters, “I'm right out here if you need me.” It's a clear signal to anyone who may be hanging around in there that there's a parent close by. Your child is less of a target if a potential predator thinks there's a chance he could be caught. If you think your child's taking too long, open the door and call in, “Is everything okay?” If you don't get an answer or are unsure, enter the restroom immediately to be sure your child is safe. (Informing your child that you'll be doing this will encourage him to answer you quickly and not linger.)
12. Discuss age-appropriate safety issues with your child in a calm, non-fearful manner. Replace the word “strangers” with “tricky people.” Let your child know that it isn't what people look like that makes them unsafe; it's what they ask a child to do that makes someone “thumbs down.” Kids have been known to leave with a stranger because “he seemed nice” or “she didn't look like a stranger.”
13. Make sure that your child knows your cell phone number.
14.Talk to your kids before a family outing. Make a rule that you must always be able to see them and they must always be able to see you.. It may sound simple, but keep reminding them periodically, especially if you think they're getting restless.
15. Use the “two giant steps” rule — your kids can never be more than two giant steps away from you. It's a fun and easy way for young children to remember not to wander away.
16. Teach your kids that if they ever become separated from you, they should look for a “safe stranger” for help. Some examples include a mom with kids or a cash register person. With older children, agree on a “meeting place” ahead of time, in case you become separated.
17. Tell you child never to leave the mall or store to go looking for you, no matter what anyone tells them. Remind your child that you would never leave until you are reunited.
18. Dress your child in brightly colored clothes to make him easy to spot.. Be sure to remember what they are wearing.
19. In busy places like airports or shopping malls, consider using a cute harness for toddlers who are prone to running off. There are lots of fun ones out there that look like a lion's tail or an elephant's trunk. Your child's safety is most important, so don't worry about what others think.
20. Establish the “check first” rule with older children. They must always check first with you before going anywhere in a public place, including another store, play area, or even the restroom.
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