It’s that time of year again. School is back in session, and your kids are definitely going to want to play outside and run off some steam after all of their homework and activities have been completed. Of course, there are some important safety tips to remember when you send your little ones out to play in your neighborhood. Here are some of the most important ones:
Playing in the Streets
- Start a parent coalition with your neighbors. Have each of you decide to look out of the front window at different intervals to make sure everything is safe. Even better, take turns sitting outside to watch your kids play. That way, there will never be a time when someone’s watchful eye isn’t checking up on those that matter most.
- Have your kids bring bottled water out with them to play. Even in the cooler months, kids could easily become overheated but not want to stop playing to go inside and get a drink. To prevent fainting spells or fatigue, keep them hydrated.
- Repeatedly discuss what to do if a car drives into their street. Make sure they remember that no game of street hockey is worth their lives. Remind your kids of what to do in an emergency. Make sure they know which parents are home and where to go to call 911 if necessary.
Encountering New People
- It’s an old rule not to talk to strangers, but it’s one worth repeating. Remind your kids not to speak to people they do not recognize. Tell your kids that if they feel scared or uneasy to go home immediately and tell their parents. Kids might be afraid to tell their parents if they are scared in thinking their parents won’t let them continue playing if they report a stranger or frightful situation. Discuss with your children your family’s plan for reporting strangers and uncomfortable situations, and assure your children they will not be penalized for reporting people or situations that are frightening to them.
- Have a family plan for dealing with strangers and uncomfortable situations. Train your children to remember what cars or faces look like in the event they feel uncomfortable and that information needs to be reported.
- Be familiar with the people who live in your neighborhood and the parents of the children your kids play with.
Playing in the Woods
- Kids often make the best explorers, and if you have woods, lakes, or streams near your house, you better believe their curious minds will want to check them out.
- Teach them how to use a compass by making it a fun and exciting activity. Tell them what to do if they get lost.
- Make sure they know about the dangers of fast currents, bugs, snakes, and spiders.
- Always tell them to explore with a buddy. Playing alone outside in their yard is fine. Playing in a neighboring wooded area alone is not.
- Emphasize the importance of letting an adult know where they are going when they want to head off to adventures in the wilderness.
Of course, the most important rule of all is to encourage your kids to have a blast. Exercising and playing outside are healthy activities that should be encouraged. Keeping these safety tips in mind will give parents and kids alike peace of mind and a secure area to enjoy themselves.
by World Barrios Contributor: Catherine Alford
About the author: Catherine Alford is a graduate student studying history.
Flickr photo by Mohammed Shamma