A Safety Checklist for Parents

You can help keep your children safe by following these precautions and using common sense.

General steps

Safety tips include:

  • Encourage your children to wash their hands often throughout the day, particularly after using the bathroom—and always before eating.

  • Keep their immunizations up to date.

  • Be sure you know where they are, who they're with, and what they're doing when out of your presence.

  • Check the references of baby sitters or care givers carefully.

In the home

Many injuries happen in the home. Here are some tips that can make your home safer:

  • Cover sharp edges on furniture, especially tables that are at the height of toddlers. Bolt lightweight furniture to the walls so they can't tip over onto children if pulled on. Use outlet plugs to prevent children putting their fingers or toys in the outlets.

  • Safety latches, gates, and door locks can help keep children from entering rooms and other areas where they may be at risk for injury. Gates that are used at the top of stairs should be secured to the wall using screws.

  • Cordless window coverings

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 

Thousands of children are treated or hospitalized each year because of accidental poisonings in their homes. These tips from the American Association of Poison Control Centers can make your home safer:

  • Keep cleaning supplies, medicines, garden chemicals, and toxic art supplies locked away or on a high shelf. Make sure these items are put away right after each use.

  • Purchase over-the-counter and prescription medicines with childproof caps. Keep them on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet, not on your bedside table.

  • Keep vitamins and minerals such as iron out of reach. They can be hazardous, even fatal, to children.

  • Never use food containers to store nonfood substances.

In the car

More children are killed by car accidents than by any other cause. Keep your children safe by following these tips from American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Make sure you and your children are properly buckled in every time you are in the car.

  • Use an infant car seat properly. Don't place one in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with an air bag on the passenger side. The safest location for a car seat is the middle of the rear seat. However, in some cars it may not be possible to secure a car seat tightly in the middle, in which case the rear side position is the safest. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car set until they are 2 years of age, or until they have reached the highest weight and height allowed by their car seat's manufacturing specifications. 

  • Secure a child in an approved infant car seat until the child's height and weight is above the forward facing car seat limit, at which point a belt-positioning booster seat should be used. A child should be in a booster seat until he or she is 4 feet, 9 inches tall and 8 to 12 years old. Then the child should be restrained by a regular seat belt.

  • Never let children ride in the back of a pickup truck.

On the playing field

Make sure that your children are safe by following these safety guidelines:

  • Insist your children wear a helmet when riding their bicycles. Helmets should carry a sticker from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell). Be sure your kids are familiar with the rules of the road before letting them ride without supervision.

  • If a helmet has been involved in a serious fall or crash, it should not be reused. If a helmet appears damaged or you are unsure of its condition, it's best to throw it out and get a new one.

  • Insist they wear a helmet and wrist, elbow, and knee guards when skateboarding or in-line skating. Keep them off streets with heavy traffic.

  • Give them swimming lessons from a qualified instructor by age 4. Never let them swim alone or without adult supervision.

  • Be sure their instructors are certified and trained in CPR and first aid.

On the farm

Follow this strategy to help prevent injuries:

  • Separate young children from farm hazards by fencing in a play area.

  • Provide child care to assist farm families and farm workers or pool family child care, especially at planting and harvesting times.

  • Prohibit extra riders on tractors, mowers, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Children should not be allowed to operate these vehicles.

  • Make sure that tractors and other farm equipment have rollover protective structures and seat belts and that these are used at all times.

  • Limit young children's access to large animals.

  • Properly store farm chemicals and cleaning agents.

  • Provide children who work on farms with personal hearing-protection equipment and train them on how to use it properly.