Preparing For Your Grandchild's Visit

As a grandparent, it is up to you to child-proof your home, and be prepared for the occasional “drop-in” visit. If the visit is a planned one, start several days prior to the visit.  This will allow plenty of time for all potential hazards to be properly put away. Check all of the rooms in your home, as well as the yard, basement, and garage. After all items have been secured, tour these areas again to double check for any missed hazards. If your grandchildren drop by as a surprise or as a spur-of-the-moment visit, do a quick safety check immediately, when possible, while their parents or another adult can watch them.

It may have been a number of years since you’ve had to worry about a child’s safety in your home. So, use the checklist below to help refresh your memory.

  • Make sure all medications are in child-proof containers and in locked cabinets. Placing items high on shelves does not ensure their safety, since children can be excellent climbers. If you keep medication in your purse, you need to secure the purse in a locked cabinet. This rule must include all medications including vitamins, diet supplements, creams in tubes, and over-the-counter medications. Even Tylenol, aspirin, and ibuprofen can be fatal in the hands of a child.

  • All household products, including cleaners, bleach, polishes, cosmetics, dyes, waxes, aerosols, matches, and disinfectants must be secured in locked cabinets.

  • Lawn products, such as pesticides, plant food, and fertilizers must be stored in proper containers and locked in cabinets.

  • The house, yard, basement, and garage must be toured looking for any item that a child might get into.

  • Phone numbers to the poison control center 1-800-222-1222. Other phone numbers you need to have include: the child’s pediatrician, Police, Fire Department, ambulance, and the emergency room at the closest hospital. You should know if the 911 emergency response system is available in your area. If it isn’t, learn the procedure to obtain emergency medical help and write it down by the phone or on the refrigerator.  

  • Learn the child’s current weight, allergies, and information regarding any medical problems the child may have. This information will be helpful to medical personnel if an emergency arises.

  • Make sure all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are properly working and on each level of the house, especially near the sleeping areas.

  • If any houseplants are poisonous, they should be securely stored away where the child can not gain access, such as in an extra room that can be locked. The poison control center can help you determine if any of your plants are a potential hazard.

  • Be aware that distractions can be potentially dangerous. For example, if you are answering the phone or door, or providing care to one child and another child is in another room, it only takes a second for a crisis to occur. Keep the children in sight at all times. If need be, take the child or children to the door or phone with you.

  • First Aid and CPR classes are beneficial and are often offered free or at a low cost in many communities.

  • Keep a First Aid kit where you can access it easily. It should contain syrup of ipecac and activated charcoal. Immediately replace any items that are used. And only use these items under the direction of emergency personnel, poison control center, or a physician.

  • In case of poisoning, or if you suspect a possible poisoning, call 911 immediately. Take the suspected poison to the phone, so you can read the labels to the staff assisting you. The contents of the substance will help in determining the type of first aid needed for the child. Do not induce vomiting unless told to do so by emergency personnel. There are some poisons that cause damage to the esophagus when swallowed and cause further damage to the esophagus if the child vomits.

Always remember that constant supervision of a child is the best safety measure. Even when you think your home is safe, children are quick, curious, and creative and can easily put themselves in potentially dangerous situations in a matter of seconds.

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