Preschooler Safety Tips

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Playground Safety

Before you send your child off to the playground, there are potential hazards you should be aware of. Many injuries can be prevented with a quick look around.

Surface - Since falls are the leading cause of playground related injuries, the area under and around the playground equipment should be soft enough to cushion a fall. Avoid hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, or even packed dirt or grass.Also, be sure the surface extends far enough out, especially around swings, so that if your child should fall, he will land in the cushioned area.

Entrapment - Pay attention to openings between platforms and on climbers where the distance between the rungs might be less than nine inches. Children will usually enter these openings feet first, get their body through, and entrap their head.

Protrusion & Entanglement - Inspect the playground for broken or protruding equipment that can catch on clothing or penetrate your child's body. Any ropes should be secured at both ends to prevent children from forming a loop or a noose.

Age-Appropriate - Areas for preschool age children should be separate from areas for school age children.

Maintenance - The playground should appear well-maintained. Inspect the wood, plastic, or metal for excess signs of wear. Be sure the surfacing material is replaced or replenished often enough. Rust, faded equipment, graffiti, loose or wobbly platforms all indicate a lack of preventative maintenance.

Moving Parts - Inspect all moving components (see-saws, swings, suspension bridges, etc.) for sharp edges or mechanisms that could crush or pinch a child's finger.

Supervision - Preschoolers are constantly challenging their own abilities, and they will not realize that they can't jump from the top of the slide. It is your duty as a parent to keep your child under constant supervision, no matter how adept he may seem.


Fire Safety

Preschoolers are naturally curious, and they often do things they're not supposed to do. While sneaking a cookie from the cupboard might not be such a big deal, playing with matches or a lighter can be fatal. Take the appropriate precautions and be sure to review this information with your preschooler often.

  • Keep matches and lighters out of view and out of reach.

  • Don't leave anything burning unattended (candles, cigarettes, cooking).

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them once a month.

  • Develop a fire escape plan, act it out, and do it once every three months.

  • Nothing on top of the stove except pots and pans.

  • Electrical outlets are off-limits to preschoolers- no unplugging or plugging in toys or devices.

  • Teach your child the phone number for emergencies (911 in the United States).

  • Teach your child what to do if there is a fire in the house (stay low & go - crawl to the nearest exit) or if his clothes catch on fire (stop, drop & roll).

If your child goes to preschool, there is a good chance they will have an opportunity to be visited by firefighters during Fire Prevention Week in October. This will show them what firefighters have to wear and what they will look like when they come in the house if there is a fire. Sometimes they can be rather frightening dressed in their mask and suit, so it's best if your child sees them for the first time now instead of during an actual fire. If your child does not go to preschool, see if your local fire department has an open house during the year where you can bring your child to meet the firefighters and see the fire station.


Car Seat Safety

Thousands of young children are killed or injured every year in motor vehicle crashes. It is your responsibility as a parent to keep your child as safe as possible. That means staying informed about proper use and regulations involving car safety seats. As a general rule, your child should be in a rear-facing infant car seat until 1 year of age and 20 pounds, a convertible car seat until 4 years of age and 40 pounds, a booster seat until 8 years of age and 80 pounds, and buckled in the back seat until 13 years of age. State laws do vary, so be sure to verify the child safety seat laws in your own state.

Most preschoolers will ride in a convertible car seat or a booster seat. When shopping for a car seat or booster seat, keep the following tips in mind:

Buying New

  • A more expensive car seat doesn't mean it is safer.

  • Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website ( to confirm that your car seat doesn't have any defects or recalls.

  • Register your seat with the manufacturer. This way they can contact you if the seat is recalled later.

Buying Used

  • Never use a car seat that has been in a moderate or severe crash.

  • Don't use a car seat if you don't know the seat's history.

  • Never use a car seat that is too old (check the date on the manufacturer's label).

  • Don't use a car seat that has any visible damage or cracks in the plastic.

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Susan Sayour