It would be easier to stay indoors with your little one, where you have some control over her movements, but you know this isn’t possible. Here are a few tips to help you stay one step ahead of your tot.
In the kitchen
You may think a few episodes of Peppa Pig will keep your little one occupied while you cook dinner, but you’ll soon spot him lurking in the kitchen. Life support medic Hayley Rosenthal advises parents to place knives and other sharp utensils out of reach, preferably behind a childproof locking device. You will also need specially designed locks for washing machines, dryers and dishwashers. “Unplug devices and pack the cords away,” she cautions.
Your curious tot will also want to see what you’re cooking and be tempted to approach the hot stove. “Cook on the back plates and create a safe area of up to a metre in front of the oven,” advises Hayley. Educate your child about the possible dangers around the house so he knows that touching a hot plate could burn him, or pulling the kettle cord could result in serious injuries. If you collect plastic bags, store them on the top shelf, as they can be hazardous if handled incorrectly.
In the bathroom
The bathroom is another area of the house where accidents are waiting to happen. “Kids peer into the toilet for a look, tip forward and can’t get themselves out, resulting in a surprising number of toilet drownings,” Hayley warns. “Teach your little ones that bathrooms aren’t for playing in.”
Keep the bathroom door locked if your child isn’t old enough to use the toilet on his own. As a precautionary measure, you can buy a toilet seat lock. If you have a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, make sure it’s out of your toddler’s reach, and that it’s always locked in case he decides to find creative ways to access it. As a general rule, don’t leave your child unattended in the kitchen or the bathroom.
Detergents should also be out of reach and locked away in case your toddler decides to take a sip from the bottle and to prevent chemicals from coming into contact with his skin.
Public play areas
Play areas are a great opportunity for toddlers to socialise, but the reality is they’re not always safe. When you go to a restaurant with a play area, make sure the seating arrangements allow you to keep an eye on your little one. Never assume that your child is safe, because he knows where you are. Some restaurants offer wrist bands to children where you can write your child’s name clearly as well as your contact number.
Always communicate with the restaurant staff manning the play area, so they can alert you if a stranger approaches your child. Teah your child about the dangers of talking to strangers and accepting gifts from them – toys and treats can be used to lure your child away.
Investing in a GPS watch will give you peace of mind, especially one that allows you to communicate with your child using the SeTracker app.
The optical sensors will send a message to you if the watch is removed from your child’s wrist. Phone numbers can be programmed into the watch, so your child can make contact easily.
It’s easy for your little one to get lost in a crowd − especially in a busy mall − so it’s a good idea to invest in a wrist safety harness that attaches to your child’s wrist as well as yours. Your tot will still have room to move around as it stretches up to 2.5m and your hands will be free so you can push a trolley while ensuring your child is safe.
Some shopping centres offer entertainment during the school holidays and have put measures in place to ensure that your little one is safe. Follow up with the centre management so you know what resources are available to you if your child goes missing.
A security watch with a built-in GPS and location-based service is a great way of keeping track of your child’s movements. A safe-zone of anything from 200 to 2 000m can be created at multiple locations. More than one family member can be connected to the device and notified when the watch is no longer in the set parameters. For emergencies, there is an SOS button.
On the road
Statistics from the US show that the majority (52%) of car accidents happen within an 8km radius from home, so always buckle your toddler into his car seat – even if you’re making a quick trip to the shop for bread.
Instal the car seat in the back seat and make sure it’s fitted properly. Experts recommend positioning car seats behind the lightest person sitting in the front of the car. The car seat needs to face the rear of the car until your little one is at least 18kg or 105cm − usually between three and four years old. Ideally, invest in a rear-facing seat that can accommodate children up to 25kg or 115cm. If an extended rear-facing seat is not financially viable, a high-quality forward-facing option offering a decent recline and easily adjustable headrests and harness is your best option. Only once your toddler has outgrown the weight or height limit on his rear-facing seat, should children graduate to a front-facing booster seat, which is designed to be used with the car’s built-in seat belts. If your little one doesn’t like facing the rear, instal a mirror so he can see you and you can check on him. It’s never safe for your toddler to stick his head or limbs out the window of a car, so explain to him that he could be hurt by flying objects or small particles that could damage his eyes. Always make sure you’ve installed child locks on car doors and windows.
You might also be tempted to leave your little one in the car so you can pop into the shop while he’s napping, but the temperature inside a parked car can rapidly reach dangerous levels.
Thobeka Phanyeko is mom to Oratile, 4. She is a journalist with a BA in Media studies from the University of Cape Town and has extensive experience as a journalist and content producer which she gained from Reuters, eNCA and Caxton Magazines. She is also a life coach and NLP Practitioner and is passionate about motherhood and women empowerment.