Physical safety measure you took once you had kids?
May 28, 2018 3:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm a new mother who strongly believes in women exercising agency and taking physical security into their own hands. I'd also like my kid to grow up "free range" or "free roaming," while minimizing risks. What safety measures did you take when you became a parent? I'd like to hear about the whole range of measures, and I am not anti-gun or anti-pepper spray. I particularly want to know if there are good GPS tracking devices that can be embedded in children's clothing or otherwise worn.

Btw I do not have post-partum anxiety and don't need advice re that and understand the statistics of anything bad actually happening are extremely low.
posted by KatNips to Human Relations (43 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
You just became a parent so GPS tracking is a few years off. I would start by baby proofing the house and the yard. This includes removing plants that may be poisonous to humans and setting up security to ensure kids don't get into anything actually dangerous, like a bucket of water. Kids are naturally curious, and wanting to protect them is natural. I think a GPS embedded clothing ensemble would be expensive considering you would also need to have the hardware in place to process it. You might consider an alarm system that could tell you when a person is in a specific place through a display or a simple cctv arrangement.
posted by parmanparman at 3:51 PM on May 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think a lifestyle that minimizes the amount of time any child spends in a car is pretty useful in terms of physical safety.
posted by vunder at 4:05 PM on May 28, 2018 [49 favorites]

Membership to AAA; pre-drive checks of gas and tire pressure; hospital inspection on car safety seat installation; driving much more carefully.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:06 PM on May 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't think giving kids a gun or pepper spray is an option that really needs to be on the table, not least because young people with those things are in more danger, not less. The safety they provide is largely illusory, and can in fact result escalation that makes situations more dangerous. Guns are not safe.

For a parent with a baby, I highly recommend corner protectors. We had them in our house, but my daughter pulled one (1!) off - it was of course the corner she fell on. 5mm to left or right with that fall, and she'd have a glass eye today, so it's a small investment that is definitely worth it.

Also make sure your hot water system is temperature limited and doesn't get too hot.
posted by smoke at 4:08 PM on May 28, 2018 [34 favorites]

I spent extra on the better Britax carseats. They are so easy to tighten compared to the cheap ones my mom has, they just feel safer.
posted by gatorae at 4:18 PM on May 28, 2018 [6 favorites]

GPS trackers are a thing. Two of my grandkids have a thing called a gizmo, that looks basically like a watch. Parent has an app on their phone that shows where they are. They can send and receive texts to a short, predetermined list set by the parents. Definitely makes you feel better about letting them play out in the neighborhood.
posted by tamitang at 4:20 PM on May 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

If guns are an option, you have to be SUPER FUCKING SAFE about keeping them inaccessible to your child at all times. And ask the parents of your kid’s friends whether they own guns, and how they’re stored. You do not want a small child in a house with unsecured firearms.

Also, anchor your heavy furniture to the wall, and if you drive have some sort of system for checking the car seat before you get out, e.g. keep your bag in the back seat or have an unignorable placeholder that goes in the front seat when the baby’s in the car seat.

And get to know your neighbors; when your kid’s older it’ll be helpful to have those extra eyes and ears.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:45 PM on May 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

In terms of statistics and guns, you, your children, whoever, is statistically more likely to be injured by a gun when there is a gun present so I do ask about guns in places my child is going to be. I also won’t have a gun in the house for same reason.

Other things that would be good from a safety standpoint would be to take a CPR class specific to children. CPR, how to deal with choking, first aid, these are all good things to know for your children or any children who might be in your care.

Teaching your kids about their bodies, autonomy, what is and isn’t appropriate touch and making sure that they always trust you to come to you if they are uncomfortable means that have a better chance of knowing if they are molested. It helps them to be in charge of their bodies so that they can say ‘no’ and trust their instincts. So learning about all the ways to empower your children is great.

Keep your gas tank on full or at least not on empty. Have a first aid kit in your car. Have a family plan in the event of natural disaster. Have an extra cell phone at home for babysitter emergencies. Teach your kids their phone number and address. And in case you are worried about hand-to-hand combat, take a self-defense class. When your kids are old enough, take one with them.
posted by amanda at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2018 [17 favorites]

The thing I have learned from 1) working in a hospital ER and 2) about to be a new mom..

1) Hot liquids are dangerous. Microwaved Ramen especially. Those little bowls are edible napalm . (Also, note your water heater temperature if you get any control over it)

2) Car seats WORK. The cheap ones, the expensive nice ones, they all are really are amazing . Love it.

3) Kids are quick, and accidents happen. Be smart and wise but nobody is perfect and don't blame yourself too much if they take a tumble , or find the one safety hole you never thought about.

4) A healthy loving relationship with parent( s) is the best safety net there is.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:09 PM on May 28, 2018 [28 favorites]

Watch out especially for falling hazards, falling is the number one non-fatal injury for small children.

Here’s some great charts summarizing injury and fatality data from the CDC.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:30 PM on May 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure where you live, but my number-one fear with my kids is that they will get hit by someone driving a car (what is colloquially called an "accident").

Pedestrian injuries and deaths are so common they are unremarkable.

So, while I encourage my kids to walk to school, we discuss, discuss, and discuss some more about how to cross the street. Hell, even walking on the sidewalk is dangerous.

The second-biggest fear is an OD. This city in Canada is ground-zero for the fentanyl epidemic. Two students at my son's high school ODed last year, and a kid at another school ODed last month. The issue is that virtually all drugs can be potentially contaminated with fentanyl.

So, I've encouraged my son to refrain from smoking pot, unless he buys it himself at one of the licensed cannabis stores in town.

There's also a stretch of street downtown, at the McDonalds and a major bus interchange, where the drug dealers hang out, and I've asked my older son to stay away from there, since young men like him have a drastically different experience than I would in a similar situation.

We've also encouraged him to walk home from work at night (he works at a grocery store in the neighbourhood) along a "safe route", since bad things sometimes happen around here late in the evenings.
posted by JamesBay at 5:34 PM on May 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

be thinking about common household dangers, like... making sure nobody passes a hot mug of coffee or plate of food over baby's head (you'd be shocked at how often this presents an imminent danger that needs to be actively averted. I have seen waiters doing it in restaurants, parents not stopping them... I don't even want to think about it. ) Sharp corners. Stairs. Hot stuff.

I had my kids' carseats installed at the local PD station, and it was great. Not only did they get installed optimally but the officer did a review of the rest of the car and I learned some stuff, like how many very common car items (even stuff like shades) become dangerous projectiles in a crash. Danger averted.

A gadget I would totally get now that it's available is an alarm that tells the driver if they've left baby in the back seat. You would not believe how easy this is to do on a day when you're off your regular routine.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:35 PM on May 28, 2018 [7 favorites]

We have refrained from GPS trackers and so on because we want to make human communication the channel by which we... communicate.
posted by JamesBay at 5:36 PM on May 28, 2018 [10 favorites]

Water safety. Beyond not leaving a young child unattended in the bath, it's being aware of any water features around you (pools, fountains, creeks, etc.). They're kid magnets.

Something I think I read here years ago and passed along to new parents -- put one of your shoes in the backseat, and you'll never leave the baby in the car.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:38 PM on May 28, 2018 [9 favorites]

Learn infant/child CPR. Become a certified lifeguard. Be a safe person for your kid to talk to about bad things happening to them, even if telling you about those things involves telling you about bad choices.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:04 PM on May 28, 2018 [6 favorites]

I think the most important safety tip I can give you is to know your child, and know what is developmentally appropriate for his or her age. Also know the hazards in your area, whether that's babyproofing at home, or putting a fence around a pool.

Baby stuff: choking, poisoning, falling, burns, etc. Infant and child CPR is great. Gene Weingarten's "Fatal Distraction" (Washington Post) is a tough, tough read/listen but if you explore the whole thing, including the response from the editor, it's pretty sure to drill carseat/leaving child in car safety into you forever; I still put my cell phone in the back seat and my youngest is 7.

So, know your kid...My oldest was okay in the backyard around age 3.5, because I told him to stay in the backyard and we had a fence. My youngest had none of the same ability to listen and would have been on the road in no time at that age. My youngest also has limited depth perception due to an actual vision problem, so despite the 'batman' This American Life podcast (definitely a pro-free-range episode), I am conservative with where he goes alone because of the crossing the street issue...however be aware that kids in fact do not develop peripheral vision that early anyway.

I let my kids have more freedom than some kids - walking to school in a group, the older is taking the bus to after school activities - but only after they pass the bar for both certain kinds of information (like they know their phone number, know the bus routes, etc.) and have been drilled on what to do, and done little trips with us where they are in charge.

Protecting The Gift has a great checklist for kids and is worth a read. I think my favourite part of it is when he talks about stranger danger and then points out you can be worrying about that while not having a baby gate across the stairs.

One thing kids need to be able to do which that book highlights, for example, is ask for help. I have taught my kids to approach strangers for help, because random people they approach are way more likely to be okay than someone looking for a kid that seems lost. (Mums with kids first, then women, then guards, by the way, not a great choice according to the book I mentioned.)

When I started letting my oldest around the neighbourhood a bit more, I first followed him and I also set serious limits (we live 70 ft from a cliff, a bit further from a ravine with a creek at the bottom of it.) We have a walkie-talkie set that we used at first and now he has graduated to a cell phone. My youngest, still the same kid who manages to find the worst danger around and be on top of it, doesn't yet have the same freedom, but this summer we'll start a bit.

I'm not sure I would rely on a GPS tracker for my children, but they are the kind of kids who come home without winter boots in winter from time to time. Speaking of winter, cold can be lethal. Again, teach your kids about the environment they are in.

I hope I've given the idea that I do believe kids benefit from going places and hanging out on their own. However, with that said, the Free Range movement as a movement kinds of bugs me 'cause I was a free range kid in the 70s, we called it latchkey, and shit did go down that was dangerous, not just to life and limb but to spirit and mind. And it wasn't 'cause it was so good for us, it was 'cause the adults chose not to be there. So just keep that in mind as you move forward...your child and family's particular needs and selves may trump the ideas you are having now, as they should. There was no ideal point of child rearing in the 60s and 70s.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:14 PM on May 28, 2018 [20 favorites]

Make sure your kids have good personal boundaries around being touched, and will tell someone they trust if someone violates those boundaries. And believe them, even if the perp is someone you think you know. Bumps and scrapes heal in a week, the psychological wounds from abuse last decades.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:15 PM on May 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

I get re-certified in First Aid every year or two.

I taught my kids how to use Google Maps and One Bus Away on their cell phones, so they can get themselves around town.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:15 PM on May 28, 2018

Teach your kids your address when they're three years old (give or take), which is easiest if you teach them it as a tune -- my kids know our old address to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:18 PM on May 28, 2018 [6 favorites]

There are infant swimming classes, with pros and cons discussed there on Wikipedia.
posted by XMLicious at 6:22 PM on May 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Much good advice above. Based on my own personal experience, read up on early signs of autism and other developmental delays. Don’t rely on your pediatrician who will likely be underexposed to all the ways these things can present. In my son’s case his daycare provider, preschool teachers, speech therapist, and pediatrician all missed it. Parents need to advocate for their kids in many such situations.
posted by JenMarie at 6:22 PM on May 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Look at the actual numbers in your country and see how you can minimize the risk in each instance.
posted by MountainDaisy at 6:22 PM on May 28, 2018

If you can swing it, infant survival swim classes are intense (generally a lot of crying) and also logistical nightmares (10 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week, for months) but one of my good friends has a 2.5 year old who you can chuck into the middle of the pool and he will right himself, swim right over to the edge and climb out.
posted by rockindata at 6:27 PM on May 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Check what the pickup and dropoff procedures are at the daycare/preschool/school they eventually go to are - part of my job as duty officer at my school is taking all the uncollected young children from the classrooms to the office, where they can only be collected by a person with a pick-up pass we have made using a photo of their child; if the pass is lost/forgotten we have backup procedures. This irritates parents who are late/forget the pass but we have never lost a child.

There is other behind-the-scenes safeguarding/child-protection work we do, from training in the use of fire extinguishers to biennial audits of our procedures and how we use/publicise them. When choosing a school, ask about this - if the frontline staff can't tell you, in detail, about these procedures, run.
posted by mdonley at 6:28 PM on May 28, 2018

Get to know your neighbors. Assuming they are people who are safe and useful to have around, it gives your kid an extra safety net of people and places they can go to for help, whether it's because they were outside alone and have stabbed themselves with a bike pedal, or because they were inside with you and you knocked yourself out with a frypan (also teach them to call 911). And if they're not those people - well, that's good to know ahead of time.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:34 PM on May 28, 2018 [6 favorites]

"free range" actually happens when the kids are older - 5/6/7. Before that kids just need a lot of supervision - it's unavoidable. No amount of GPS tracking is going to make a 2 year old "free range."

And for older kids, if you truly want a safer free range lifetstyle, weapons and GPS aren't the way. You have to move to a community that supports it -- a place where it's the norm for moms to stay home, have lots of kids, and not a lot of traffic.
posted by yarly at 7:14 PM on May 28, 2018 [8 favorites]

Get kids in water, comfortable in water, and learning to swim/paddle/etc as fast as possible. If swimming is an outdoor 3 or 4 months a year thing, every single year make kids prove they remember all the things before they can go into the deep end (my mom made us demonstrate floating, 2 different swim strokes, and swimming the width of the pool and back - if any of those looked even a bit hinky she'd let us try again tomorrow, but today we're in the shallow end).
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:23 PM on May 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

A shocking number of middle aged children (at the age point most would assume they would be capable of"knowing better" or using "common sense,"...) accidentally strangle themselves each year on mini blind cords. I remember reading the stats on that in disbelief and haven't been able to stomach using them since.
posted by OnefortheLast at 8:03 PM on May 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Lots of good stuff in this thread. A few things off the top of my head:

Make sure medicine, vitamins, cleaning supplies, craft/sewing supplies, spare change, et cetera – i.e. anything that you don't want your kid to grab and put in their mouth – is secured in a baby proof place. Babies and small kids interface with the world by putting everything into their mouth.

This is good for testing whether something is a choking hazard.

Keep the number to Poison Control or the local equivalent on your phone.

In addition to taking first aid/CPR classes (and getting your kid age-appropriate training when they're older), having a flip chart like this is helpful.

Make sure your smoke/fire/carbon monoxide detector game is strong. Test often and make sure you change the batteries as often as recommended.

This is a pretty solid list of standard baby-proofing items, like covering outlets.

The CDC also knows what's up.

Practice being calm when your kid gets injured. Make sure they associate you with safety and help, and don't feel like getting hurt is something that will "get them in trouble."

Treat their mental health the way you would treat their physical health. Listen to your kid and believe them. Find a good therapist to give you support on helping them process their feelings, have coping tools for things like bullying, etc. This is way more relevant to physical safety than most people realize.
posted by Tiny Bungalow at 8:31 PM on May 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

My husband had the brilliant idea of teaching our child our first and last name and our home address basically as soon as he could talk. If he ever gets separated from us, he knows our names (not just mom and dad) and where we live.
posted by Toddles at 8:50 PM on May 28, 2018 [7 favorites]

Also, please vaccinate your kids.
posted by Toddles at 8:50 PM on May 28, 2018 [21 favorites]

Earthquake Prevention: everything heavy gets stored lower than my kid's head, cleats for pictures, bookcases and tv's strapped to the walls, and so on.

Always keep pantry food and at least a few 5 gallon jugs of water in the house. We have 6 jugs, family of 3. Batteries. Cash.

If you carry protection like pepper spray, a taser, or a gun in your bag, or have these items in your home or car, please let other parents you have play dates with know so they can take whatever steps they think are necessary to be safe.

When my son was toddler thru 5 or 6, I moved all of the knives and scissors out of arms reach because I'm paranoid. I always boil water on the back burner because of earthquakes and general safety.

No shoes in the house so baby can crawl. Steamers are nice for disinfecting floors and carpets.
posted by jbenben at 9:16 PM on May 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

Learn infant/child CPR yesterday if you don't already know it. I used the Heimlich more than once when my kids were little even though I cut up grapes (and it also works on over eager dogs!).

Once your kiddo is able to walk and you guys are out for the day, go to the pet store, get their name/your cell engraved on a cat tag and lace it through one of their shoes. We did that with our kids so that I knew it wouldn't ever be an issue if we got separated (I also Sharpied it on the inside of their arm when we went really big places like a fair). The girls knew the info but it's easily forgotten when you're scared.

I made it a habit of taking a pic of each of them when we got out of the car at family outings. This way, I had a most recent pic of them in my phone, along with what they were wearing -- Thank God I never have had to utilize it but have some really cute pics and memories.

If you have a cat or dog door, make sure it's not anywhere accessible to a your baby as they learn to crawl. That can be a quick trip into an unattended bathroom, outside or down a set of basement stairs.

Put your knives up now. I used to keep mine in a rolling center island until my two year old brought me a 9" chef's knife to cut an apple. After I recovered from a near coronary, we promptly got in the car and bought a magnetic holder that still lives high up above the kitchen sink.

Finally, get some cheap red washcloths. Keep them for the inevitable cuts and nosebleeds. Your kid won't freak out nearly as much if they can't see blood when you're cleaning wounds. Also - use plain old saline solution (like for contact lenses) NOT hydrogen peroxide -- unless there is yucky debris like gravel that needs to be bubbled out -- to clean cuts. It doesn't hurt and it's sterile.

It all sounds scary as a new mom, but you've got a long, long road ahead. It's all good and enjoy this time. Enjoy that new baby smell. Deep breaths. Big hugs and congrats!!
posted by dancinglamb at 10:32 PM on May 28, 2018 [8 favorites]

Swimming pools - if you have one, get it fenced and covered now. If your neighbours have pools, make sure you have amazingly good fences that are child-proof. Infant swimming classes and child swimming lessons don't stop unattended drowning.

Montessori style bedrooms (Pinterest or google image search) are fantastic for little kids because they're designed for exploration with the mattress set to the floor, low shelves and baskets and the room set from a child's perspective to be interesting and accessible.

I keep my knives in a drawer and gave my then 3-year old daughter a set of Curious Children's Chefs Knives within easy reach. I tested them before handing them over, but they can't cut skin yet cut apples and bread and kept her directed away from real sharps. I also taught her to use scissors properly early on and kept child-safe ones accessible.

My kid was/is a runner, and I leashed her without embarrassment when she was a toddler near traffic. It gave her freedom to explore and not be killed. The backpack with animal tail ones are the easiest to use (wrist-straps she said were uncomfortable and she learned to slip out of them).

Climbing trees matters. So much better than an indoor padded baby gym. Take her to parks and put her on the boughs of trees and hold her there. Encourage her to climb a tree slowly.

I used to write my phone number on her arm with a sharpie when we went out (runner). You can get quite nice Tyvek wristbands that you can sharpie a contact number on to 'tag' them when you're out. We used songs to teach her our phone number.

She also has (had - she's lost it for now) an old phone with most access child locked so it's basically calls and photos with some school apps, but more importantly - GPS. That's the main reason most parents I know give their kids an old phone - so they can find them if they're out and call them. Mobiles give kids way more flexibility and you can get pretty robust ones and with Android, lock out almost everything crappy.

Oh! And let your child get sick as a little kid. Let them play with other kids and catch the usual bugs and play in dirt and be muddy and snotty. The research now is that children who are around nature, animals and get common illnesses early on grow up healthier as adults. Don't bathe them so often! Fewer wet wipes and disinfection, more mud. (Clearly my child will be immortal...)

I absolutely treasure having read a children's illness book early on (just a regular DK children's health book) so I had a solid idea of what was regular sick and what was GO TO ER sick. The biggest help for me has always been the website (so much more sane and calming than WebMD etc) and Cochrane's websites for more complicated medical decisions.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:47 PM on May 28, 2018 [6 favorites]

I get that you're saying this isn't anxiety-based, but even the mere consideration of giving a child a gun for protection gives me pause. Can you clarify that? Are you really wondering if you should give your child a gun to minimize risks?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:37 AM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Good list here.

Don't forget clothing, especially if you have little girls. A surprising amount of little girl clothing isn't designed for freedom of movement the way boy cut clothes are.

Clothes are a trivial problem as long as it's thought about but what's really hard around here is finding little girl shoes that grip the foot, have good tread, and some flexibility in the sole. When you do find them, a good price is $35-50, so if you wind up with a child with born fashion sense, it starts to be a noticeable cost. Even those $35-50 shoes don't always last until the child outgrows them

So then, if you have a child who winds up to be a bit of a shoes horse, the ONE time you give in to the $10 sparkly jelly shoes that don't snap quite right, with no tread, that are basically like walking on sheets of glass, thinking "Oh, we'll only wear these sometimes, when we can carry her from the car to the building, and she really wants them to accessorize" then that will be the pair of shoes she slips on when the new babysitter, who you didn't think to tell about how you don't mind the kid running barefoot, tells her to put on shoes. Those will be the shoes that trips her as she runs down the sidewalk chasing a caterpillar with a glass jar.

An inch to the right and she'd have a glass eye. The jellies were left in the trash can at the emergency room and the amazingly nonjudgmental staff at the children's hospital said that wasn't the first time. She had to start kindergarten with two open wounds on her face.

We're torn between "our free range child has character-building scars" and "OUR CHILD HAS SCARS."

Definitely anchor the heavy furniture to the walls and watch out for buckets while they're top heavy, but also don't cheap out on shoes.
posted by arabelladragon at 4:30 AM on May 29, 2018 [6 favorites]

IANAP but: came also to mention the Fatal Distraction article about how common it is for kids to be forgotten in their carseats, reading it is just a really intense indelible experience.

Also-- firearm injuries are a pediatric public health issue. Please, please, please hide and secure your guns, if you have them already.

This advice about teaching kids consent seems very right on and also very far away from the way I was raised, such that I might not have thought of it.

& be a good human and vaccinate your kids.
posted by athirstforsalt at 5:43 AM on May 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you have guns, they need to be kept unloaded and inaccessible to kids, preferably with the ammunition in a separate place that is also inaccessible to kids. Inaccessible means locked up- on the top shelf of a closet isn’t good enough. I would also keep pepper spray inaccessible to kids.

If you have guns, or if your kids spend much time in a house where there are guns, discuss gun safety early and often. Kids should never touch a gun without adult supervision. They should know to assume that all guns are loaded unless proven otherwise, and that you never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to shoot.

I am thinking of getting wind chimes to mount above the exterior doors of my house. That way, if a kid goes outside, there’s a better chance we’ll hear it. My nephew is a runner who will try to go outside without telling a grown up.

Turn down the temperature on the hot water heater.

Tell your kids you’ll give them something highly desirable if they ever tell you that you forgot to strap them into their car seats or boosters. Make sure they know they should never be in a moving vehicle without a car seat or seat belt.

Keep the car seats rear facing as long as you can. It really is safer.

Talk about holding hands when in a street or parking lot.

If at all possible, get a car with a backup camera, especially if you’re driving to school or daycare.

Make a habit of opening the door to the back seat every time you get out of the car. This reduces the chance of leaving a child in a hot car. I leave my purse back there, some people leave their phone or one of their shoes.
posted by Anne Neville at 7:31 AM on May 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

> I made it a habit of taking a pic of each of them when we got out of the car at family outings

I do that with my kids, and they're used to it and so am I -- so I was surprised when my Girl Scouts showed hesitation when I told them to "Pose for your 'last seen wearing' photo!"
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:12 AM on May 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

Take a Be SMART class (and consider being trained to teach it to other parents).
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:14 AM on May 29, 2018

Once your kiddo is able to walk and you guys are out for the day, go to the pet store, get their name/your cell engraved on a cat tag and lace it through one of their shoes. We did that with our kids so that I knew it wouldn't ever be an issue if we got separated (I also Sharpied it on the inside of their arm when we went really big places like a fair). The girls knew the info but it's easily forgotten when you're scared.

Just to illustrate the last point, when I was in high school, the was an electrical fire in our building, which I slept through. My mom woke me up, said "The building's caught fire, but don't worry, it's out. I'm going to work." Later in the morning, the fire department told everyone they had to leave (it was hot, the power was obviously out and most of the building's residents were elderly) and we had to give them a phone number where we could be reached. I had no idea I was at freaked out, but the phone number I recited was complete nonsense.

Relatedly, ensure the fire alarms/smoke detectors in your home are loud enough to wake people up. My mom was the first person in the building to wake up and that was when the fire department arrived, summoned by the alarm that woke no one.

Like many other people have said, your children (and you!) will be safer if there are no guns in the house.
posted by hoyland at 5:04 PM on May 29, 2018

You have to move to a community that supports it -- a place where it's the norm for moms to stay home

Children's physical freedom is absolutely not contingent on women's economic dependence, and their freedom of thought is absolutely not best fostered in a community where conservative social and gender norms hold sway.

When they're old enough for this to be relevant, they'll need to have a way to contact someone by voice/text immediately (already a step up from the good old days when we didn't have cell phones to save us from getting lost, we just wandered around in circles yelling, having forgotten which cardinal direction the sun sets in and not knowing what direction the house was towards, anyway). and they'll need to know the physical location of the closest safe adult who knows them, and be well-practiced at physically getting to that person on their own. this can be a parent of any gender, a neighbor, a parent's friend, a librarian or familiar shopkeeper in a last resort. They need to know how far they can realistically walk in an hour, how to take the bus if there are buses, how the streets are numbered/ordered, a couple of places to stash a $20 outside of a steal-able bag or wallet (in a shoe, in a bra if applicable, etc.) They need to know that unaccompanied children are invisible to many taller people, and have practice & confidence maintaining their place in a line, not getting pushed aside, speaking up when it's their turn for something, being persistent in asking adults questions (do you have a public bathroom, may I use your phone, please call the police, someone is following me.)

none of this requires a woman staying home. indeed, much of the appeal of so-called free range children is that those children aren't sequestered in the home. and if children can be trusted to leave the house for extended unsupervised adventures, so can their mothers.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:02 PM on May 29, 2018 [7 favorites]

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