Never leave home without following this fundamental rule. Post important phone numbers in a visible place near the phone. Before you walk out the door, give your child detailed written instructions about where you will be, how long you will be gone, a phone number where you can be reached, and the number of a nearby friend or neighbor your child can call for help. Do this whether you are leaving for ten minutes or for several hours. It might help to fill out the card at the back of this booklet and leave it next to the telephone. Your child also needs the emergency numbers for Fire and Police and the Poison Control Center. Remember to write this information out clearly, in large letters, so that it's easy for your child to read.
If you are difficult to reach at work, be sure you have made arrangements for how a message will get through to you if your child calls and needs you.
6 Review first-aid basics with your child and make a first-aid kit. Children can be taught to cope with some emergencies. It's important to teach your child how to handle minor accidents and injuries. Take time to review with your child basic first-aid procedures such as the Heimlich maneuver for choking. Review how to treat minor scrapes and cuts, nosebleeds, and insect bites. You may want to post a first-aid chart in a visible place in your home.
Put together a first-aid kit at home and show your children where it is kept. Include the following: a roll of adhesive tape; bandages; a pair of small scissors; sterilized gauze pads; antibiotic cream; iodine for minor scrapes and cuts; lotion for insect bites; a thermometer. Some parents of older children feel comfortable leaving a small bottle of aspirin or an aspirin alternative as well.
Consider having your child enroll in a first-aid course offered by the American Red Cross, the Boy or Girl Scouts, the YMCA or YWCA, or another community group that offers such classes. The American Red Cross has first-aid and personal safety classes for children as young as age 5.
Though the last thing you want to do is alarm your child about all the things that can go wrong when she is alone, it is wise to prepare her. Later on in this booklet are a number of What To Do If exercises you might practice with your child. Pretend you are playing a game, and let her come up with the answers.
7 Be sure your child always carries enough pocket change to make phone calls. Keep a few quarters tucked away in your child's backpack, and check regularly to see that the coins are still there. This way, your child can always reach you or another adult from a pay phone.
8 Go over cooking safety. Most children need a snack or something to eat when they get home from school. It's best to keep these snacks simple and to choose foods that can be made without using the stove or sharp utensils so that your child doesn't risk burning or cutting himself while cooking. Decide if you think it's safe for your child to use the microwave oven when you are not home. Think about labeling a shelf in the cupboard or refrigerator where after-school snacks are stored. Brainstorm and make a list of easy snacks your child likes and can make, like peanut butter or spreadable cheese on crackers, or fruit that doesn't need to be cut.
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