Who's Your Safety Officer

Safety is a round-the-clock, all-year-round issue when it comes to children. But how do you teach the little tykes the importance of safety and why we have safety rules? One suggestion is to designate a Safety Officer for the month.

Once a month, pick a different child to act as the group's Safety Officer. You could even purchase a play hard hat to be used as the official Safety Officer's hat, or see if one of the parents could donate one. You'll also need a clip board, pen and a safety checklist. It's more fun if you have the children help you develop this list. It reinforces safety issues and provides opportunities to present different safety issues each month, such as the proper gear to use when riding a bike, or garage door safety, and so on.

The job of the Safety Officer is to use the checklist to go around your home or daycare to inspect each item. All the children can help here. The Officer says what needs checking, and the group investigates whether or not the emergency telephone numbers are visible by the phone, or that cleaning solvents and medicines are safely locked up, until each item on the list has been inspected.

When all is said and done, the Safety Officer can give a passing mark or a "needs improvement" mark to the checklist, and then be allowed to follow up on the list in a week or two so the group sees that safety issues are important and that you, as the role model, are doing everything in your power to keep them safe by fixing the "needs improvement" items.

Items to be inspected could include:

    * Smoke detectors
    * Stove tops are free of inflammable items
    * Electrical outlets are covered
    * Fire extinguisher is inspected regularly and readily accessible
    * Food items are not past expire dates
    * Sharp objects such as scissors, knives, etc. are out of harm's way
    * Stair wells and floors are free of items that could cause a child to trip and fall
    * Toys are in good repair and broken toys with sharp edges are removed and placed in a "fix me" area
    * Cords for curtains, blinds and extensions are tied back and out of a child's reach
    * Garage door if functioning properly
    * Outdoor apparatus such as swings, etc. are in good shape with no protruding bolds or sharp edges that could harm a child
    * Flashlights are working and easily accessible
    * Medical emergency or first aid kit is fully stocked
    * and so on.

You might consider making a special safety checklist for each season. For example, water and sun safety items for summer, winter activity safety for tobogganing, cold weather clothing, etc.

By assigning a Safety Officer role to the children they will really begin to see and understand the importance of safety in your home, at the daycare, and in their daily lives.