Tuesday, November 13

Keeping Kids Safe: Home and Road

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Maybe you're new to Jacksonville, new to parenting, or new to watching someone else's kids. There are some rules, but I don't think many people stress these rules until something bad happens and you get blamed. Or you don't get blamed because you're the victim. I'm going to throw a few scenarios out there to illustrate how keeping your kids safe might be easier than you think.




Home
In a recent news story, a man came home to a woman trying to rob his house. His six or seven year-old kid was home, let the woman in when she knocked on the door, and then she rummaged around until the dad came home and chased her away. The humorous aftermath (aftermeth?) is that she then tried to break into his storage shed. There's a lot wrong with this story, but I'd argue part of what's wrong is that Dad left the kid home alone AND the kid let a stranger into the house. The news focused on the deranged woman, but she wasn't going to break in if Dad's home or the kid says Dad's on the toilet but can't come to the door right now.

I've also seen several kids go for a swim in the backyard pond recently. I would not have wanted to live in my current house when my kids were that age when they take off all the time, and no one wants to blame the family of a toddler who has just drowned. However, a backyard pond or swimming pool is probably the coolest thing in the world to a little kid, so you need to make sure there's no way for that kid to get there unsupervised, even if it takes moving into a new house. Or putting up a fence. Or a child leash.

The only item that might be more awesome than a pond to a little kid is a gun. And kids go EVERYWHERE, including Grandma's purse and under the bed. You will not be able to hide the gun where you can find it and the kids won't, and this gets worse as they get older, unlike the pond. When my dad had a gun in the house, I found the hiding spot. I knew not to play with the gun, but I did open the box to look at it (which is kind of playing with it). He was smart to also hide the bullets. Sure, it's a pick-your-poison kind of situation, but I'd rather have to point an unloaded gun at an assailant than have even a small chance my kids get their hands on a loaded one.

The bottom line on home safety is you rarely see kids drown in homes without pools or ponds, and you rarely see kids get shot in homes without guns. Yes, there are bathtub accidents and drive-bys, but those are generally more difficult to control.

Car
TWO recent stories involved automobile accidents with kids. One was fatal. Both were after midnight. I know from my Progressive Snapshot  that insurance companies recognize the danger of driving after midnight. It's dark, people have been drinking or are tired, and people might even be more careless because the roads are relatively empty. I totally understand if you're working and have to get the kids from Grandma's after work, and maybe dinner, and maybe a movie. But kids really do need to have a 9 or 10 pm bedtime, and being out this late is a problem.

I've also seen a lot of accidents in the area with kids (and adults) who are thrown from the car. Airbags won't stop this. An airbag is meant to lessen the impact on the dash for someone belted into the front seat. Someone in the back seat who isn't buckled in, can fly right past the airbag, which deflates quickly and doesn't cover the whole windshield. Little kids have big heads, proportionately, compared to adults, and this higher center of gravity makes them into a missile in an accident. If your kid unbuckles, pull over and spank him (we're cool with that in Jax).

My daughter recently came home from a camping trip, and I was a bit peeved that she was allowed to ride in the back of a pickup. It was apparently just on the campground, and I know the driver, so it's OK now, but the problem is that she enjoyed the ride. Stats say riding in the bed of a pickup makes death three times more likely than being in the cab. If you absolutely need a truck instead of a mini-van, and you're planning on taking the whole family places in it, then get the giant SUV. I had a 2500 Suburban, and I called it my living room on wheels. I even moved the biggest playset ever with that truck--just strap stuff to the top. Best thing was it had eight seats with eight seat belts.

Don't even get me started with motorcycles, with a risk of a fatal crash 35 times that of cars. My kids have also expressed interest in riding on motorcycles, especially when some Yahoo does a standup on McCormick. I have a convertible, and I enjoy driving it, so I understand why you might like your motorcycle. Just don't stick your kid on the back, or mine.

The Basics
These are really just some basic rules for avoiding disaster. It can still happen, and I try not to judge too harshly. I know raising kids is a challenge. You don't have to hover over your kids at all times. Just remind them to stay away from dangerous situations. I can remember one time driving home to Milwaukee from Sussex, WI, and I stopped on the side of a 45mph road because a little kid in a diaper was walking up to the end of his driveway, all alone. As I got out of my car, the mom showed up, ran to her kid, and looked at me like I was stopping to steal the little bugger. Like I was the one to fear. We spend a lot of time worrying about the ill-intentions of our neighbors, but it's often our own decisions as parents that put our kids in the most immediate danger.
Thanks for reading. See more of my content:

Satisfamily - Articles about being happy as a family
Passive Ninja - Web Design in Jacksonville
McNewsy - Creative Writing
Educabana - Educational Resources
Brave New Church - Church Website Design
Voucher School - Pros and Cons of School Vouchers
Luthernet - Web Design for Lutheran Churches
Sitcom Life Lessons - What we've learned from sitcoms
Mancrush Fanclub - Why not?
Epic Folktale - Stories of the unknown
Wild West Allis - Every story ever told about one place
Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
Real Wisconsin News - Satire from Wisconsin
Zoo Interchange Milwaukee - Community website
Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

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