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Safety Alerts

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When you babysit, you are entrusted with a child’s life. Your primary responsibility is to care for the children’s needs and most of all: keep them safe. You can prepare yourself for this important trust by following these guidelines.

  • Have the following information written down and readily accessible in the event of an emergency: Family name, children’s names, house address with nearest cross street, instructions on how to contact the parents, phone number(s) of close relatives and neighbors, doctor’s name and phone number along with a medical release.
  • In the event of an emergency: Call 911: identify yourself by name, tell them you are babysitting and state the problem. State the address of the house where you are and the nearest cross street. (Be sure to specify North, South, Avenue, Street, etc.) Give the phone number you are calling from.
  • Get written instructions about any medicines to be given to the children — how much and what time.
  • Having visitors while babysitting is a bad policy. Always get approval if you would like to have a visitor.
  • Find out who you should call in case of an emergency. Be sure to get their phone number.
  • Be sure to meet the family dog.
  • Take a walk through the house and check for any special locks, windows that cannot be climbed out of, other telephones and anything at all that would be a problem in case of an emergency.
  • During the walk through, check for hazards and things that the children can get into, such as matches, lighter fluid, electric cords, plastic bags, medication, or anything else that may be dangerous.
  • Look to see if there is a pool. Check for doggie doors and any unlocked doors or windows leading to that area.
  • Have a mental fire drill: that is, plan on more ways than one to get yourself and the children out of the house in case of fire.
  • Be sure to find out if you are to give the children anything to eat or drink before bed.
  • Make sure all the doors and windows are locked from the inside, and lock the front door after the parents leave.

What To Do When The Parents Leave:

  • If it is evening, turn on the porch/outside light.
  • If the children are asleep, check on them about every 15 minutes.
  • If the children are up, know their location at all times and never leave them alone too long.
  • If for any reason you must leave the house, TAKE THE CHILDREN WITH YOU!
  • DO NOT open the door for anyone unless you personally know the person.
  • If someone insists on coming in and you do not recognize them, or if you suspect a prowler, CALL THE POLICE AT 911.

In Case Of Fire:

  • Sound the alarm — yell FIRE as loud as possible.
  • If possible, close the door to the area where the fire is.
  • DO NOT attempt to extinguish the fire, but rather attempt to save a life.
  • Get everyone out of the house, and do not go back in for any reason.
  • Keep all the children together, and go to the approved neighbor’s home.
  • Call the Fire Department at 911 and leave the children with the neighbors, then go back outside to direct the firefighters to the fire if you need to.

A well-prepared babysitter will be highly respected and greatly appreciated by parents. Any sitter who takes these recommendations to heart will be in great demand.

School can be fun and exciting with every day bringing new experiences, but it can also be difficult or even frightening for children.  Kids today are faced not only with the challenges of learning new material, interacting with other students, and bullying, but also an increased threat of physical violence in our schools.  Although Bakersfield is an “All America City,” over the last few years we have had some schoolyard experiences with gun-related violence, sexual crimes against minors, and theft.  If you have children, grandchildren, or are a caregiver of children, the information provided below is designed to help keep your children safe.

Getting to School is Your First Step:

Riding the Bus:

  • Have your children arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to pick them up.
  • Make sure children know to stand on the sidewalk or on the grass while waiting for the bus, away from traffic and the street.
  • Teach children to make sure they can see the bus driver and the bus driver can see them before crossing in front of the bus.  Tell them to never walk behind the bus.
  • Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
  • When being dropped off, exit the bus and walk ten giant steps away from the bus.  Keep a safe distance between you and the bus.
  • Use the handrails to enter and exit the bus.
  • Be aware of the street traffic around you.  Drivers are required to follow certain rules of the road concerning school buses, however, not all do.
  • Be aware that bullying often takes place on the school bus.  Ask children about their bus – who they sit with, who they talk to, and what the other kids do.  Let them know that if they see someone being bullied, or are bullied themselves, they can talk to you, the bus driver, or another trusted adult.

Walking and Biking to School:

  • Map out with your children a safe way for them to walk to school or to the bus stop.  Avoid busy streets and intersections.  Do a trial run with them to point out places they should avoid along the way.
  • Obey all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard.
  • Walk your bike through intersections.
  • Walk with a buddy.
  • Wear light colored or reflective materials.  It makes you more visible to street traffic.
  • Teach children to not talk to strangers, go anywhere with them, or accept gifts from them, without your permission.
  • Help children memorize their phone number and full address, including area code and zip code.

For more information on school safety, visit the National Safety Counsel at

Children Home Alone:

If your child is home alone after school, follow these simple tips:

  • Set up rules for locking doors and windows, answering the door or telephone.
  • Make sure he or she checks in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home from school.
  • Set rules for inviting friends over and for going to a friend’s house when no adult is home.
  • Take time to listen carefully to children’s fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts. Take complaints about bullies and other concerns seriously.
  • If he or she wants to change plans after school, always have him or her check first with a parent. Never allow them to play in parks, malls, or video arcades by themselves. Make sure your children know to get a parent’s permission, so you will know where they are going to be.
  • Practice what to do in an emergency.  Teach children how to dial 911 or “0” and when to do it.

For more information on protecting your children when they are home alone, you can visit the National Safe Kid Campaign website at:

Safer Schools Begin at Home: Four points parents should discuss with their children about school safety include:

  • Explain that everyone has a responsibility for making schools safe — even children. If a child sees inappropriate behavior or hears about the possibility that such behavior might happen (e.g., hears that someone has a hit list or is going to bring a gun to school), the child has a responsibility to tell an adult at school or their parent immediately.
  • Explain the odds.  Schools are typically safe environments.  The chances of being killed in school are less than one in a million according to the US Department of Education.
  • Explain that violence is not an acceptable solution to problems children may  experience. Parents need to explicitly address this because many messages children are exposed to from various parts of society (tv, movies, etc.)  communicate that violence is a solution.
  • Ask questions about how safe your children feel in their schools. You should also ask about behaviors (e.g., are there places at school they avoid because they don’t feel safe?). When asking questions, it is important to actively listen to the answers. If concerns are raised, parents need to follow up with the school and keep their children informed about what is being done about their concerns.

For further information on school safety or violence, please visit the Center for the Prevention of School Violence. We all have a desire to provide our children with a safe and nurturing learning environment.   Hopefully, some of the tips we’ve supplied will help ensure your child’s education experience is safe and happy.

Whether your child can’t wait to splash in the tub or views bath time as cruel and unusual punishment, you always need to keep safety in mind when it comes to bathing. Below is a list of useful tips that can help your child stay safe in the bath.

Gather supplies first. Collect soap, towel, diaper, clothing, toys, and any other items you plan on using before you even run the bath water. Place these items where you can reach them easily. Trying to keep one hand on a slippery little body while stretching for the shampoo isn’t safe for anyone!

Supervision. Until your child is age six or so, never leave him or her unattended or under the supervision of a sibling younger than junior high school in the bathtub. There is nothing important enough to risk drowning, and when it comes to bathtubs, the potential is real.

Don’t run to answer the phone.

Don’t check to see who is at the door.

Don’t leave your child to be watched by an older brother or sister.

Remember, about 80 children drown in bathtubs each year. Don’t let your child be another number in that statistic. Make no exceptions to this rule. Simply put: Don’t Leave!

Hands on. Kneel beside the bathtub and keep one hand always firmly around your child. Infants and young children want to crawl and stand as they play, but it’s important for their safety that you keep them sitting while they bathe.

Water heater. To reduce the risk of scalding, set your home’s water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. A good way to test for a safe temperature: You should be able to hold your hand comfortably under the tap even when the hot water alone is running.

Bath temperature. Fill the tub before your child gets in and make sure that the water is a comfortable temperature. If you need to add more water while your child is in the tub, position him or her well away from the faucet, check the temperature of the bath frequently, and always turn off the hot water before the cold if there are separate controls. When your child is very young, teach your child that he or she is not allowed to touch the faucet handles. As your child gets older, teach your child how to control the hot and cold water.

Faucet covers. Placing a soft, insulated cover over the bathtub faucet is a prudent safeguard against accidental burns or bumps. They are available at many baby-supplies stores, and often come in the form of engaging rubber animals to add to bath-time fun.

Bath seats. Several types of bath seats and rings adhere to the bottom of the tub with suction cups and offer bathing infants and toddlers support while sitting. These are fine to use, but don’t let them lull you into thinking that you can leave your child unattended. The suction cups can come loose, and it isn’t hard for a child to slide out of the seats.

Mats and decals. Prevent bathtub falls by placing a rubber mat in the tub or affixing non-slip adhesive decals or strips to the bottom of the tub. They are readily available at hardware or baby-supplies stores and come in a variety of colors and designs.

Electrical hazards. Keep electrical devices (including hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors) well away from the tub. Also, make sure that any outlets near the tub are the type that meet safety standards to protect them from water.

Slippery floors. Wet kids and slippery floors don’t mix. Be sure to use (and teach your child to use) extra caution and keep a non-slip bathroom rug by the side of the tub for your child to step onto after bathing.

When you ride on the road, your bike is a vehicle and you must obey traffic laws.

  • Scan the road behind. Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving left. Some riders use helmet-mounted or bike-mounted rear-view mirrors. Always look back before changing lanes or changing positions within your lane, and only move when no other vehicle is in your way.
  • Go slowly on sidewalks and bike paths. Pedestrians have the right-of-way. Give pedestrians audible (horn/bell/word) warning when you pass. Don’t cross driveways or intersections without slowing to walker’s pace and looking very carefully for traffic, especially traffic turning right.
    • When on the road, ride in a straight line whenever possible. Ride with, not against, the traffic. Keep to the right, but stay about a car-door-width away from parked cars.
    • Avoid road hazards. Watch out for parallel-slat sewer grates, slippery manhole covers, oily pavement, gravel and water. Cross railroad tracks and speed bumps carefully at right angles.
  • Choose the best way to turn left. There are two ways to make a left turn:
    • Obey traffic signs and signals. By law, cyclists must obey traffic laws.
    • Ride a properly equipped bike.
      • Always use a strong headlight and taillight at night and when visibility is poor.
      • Be sure your bike is adjusted to fit you properly.
      • For safety and efficiency, outfit it with a horn/bell, rear-view mirror(s), fenders (for rainy rides), and racks, baskets or bike bags.
    • Like an auto, look, signal, move into the left lane, and turn left.
    • Like a pedestrian, ride straight to the far-side crosswalk. Walk your bike across.

How to Ride in Traffic:

Rule 1: Be Predictable

Ride so drivers can see you and predict your movements.

  1. Obey traffic signs and signals. Bicycles must obey traffic laws like other vehicles.<
  2. Never ride against traffic. Motorists aren’t looking for bicyclists riding on the left side of the road. Ride on the right, with the traffic.
  3. Use hand signals when initiating a turn. Hand signals tell motorists what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, of courtesy and of self-protection.
  4. Ride in a straight line. Whenever possible, ride in a straight line, to the right of traffic but about a car-door-width away from parked cars.
  5. Don’t weave between parked cars. Don’t ride over to the curb between parked cars, unless they are far apart. Motorists may not see you when you move back into traffic.
  6. Ride in the middle of the lane in slow traffic. Get in the middle of the lane at busy intersections and whenever you are moving at the same speed as traffic.
  7. Follow lane markings. Don’t turn left from the right lane. Don’t go straight in a lane marked right-turn-only.
  8. Choose the best way to turn left. Remember: There are two ways to make a left turn. 1) Like an auto. Signal, move into the left lane and turn left. 2) Like a pedestrian.
  9. Don’t pass on the right. Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
  10. Go slow on shared paths. Yield to pedestrians. Give pedestrians audible warning when you pass. Do not ride on sidewalks where prohibited.
  11. When biking with others, ride in line when other traffic is present.

Rule 2: Be Alert

Ride defensively and expect the unexpected.

  1. Watch for cars pulling out. Make eye contact with drivers. Assume they don’t see you until you are sure they do.
  2. Scan the road behind. Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving left. Some riders use rear-view mirrors.
  3. Avoid road hazards. Watch for sewer grates, slippery manhole covers, oily spots, gravel, or water. Cross railroad tracks carefully at right angles.
  4. Keep both hands ready to brake. You may not stop in time if you brake one-handed. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain.
  5. Watch for chasing dogs. Ignore them, or try a firm, loud, “NO.” If you can’t get away, dismount with your bike between you and the dog. Don’t try to kick the dog. Call Animal Control.

Rule 3: Be Equipped

You’ll ride more easily and safely.

  1. Keep the bike in good repair. Adjust your bike to fit you, and keep it working properly. Check brakes and tires regularly.
  2. Use lights at night or when visibility is poor. The law requires a strong headlight and rear reflector or tail light at night.
  3. Dress appropriately. In rain, wear a poncho or a parka made of fabric that “breathes”. Generally dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes. Avoid loose clothing. Purchase a “strap” at a local bike store to control your right pantleg to avoid catching it in the chain.
  4. Use a pack or rack to carry things. Saddlebags, racks, baskets, and backpacks are all good ways to carry packages, freeing your hands for safe riding.
  5. Always wear an ANSI or Snell approved helmet. This reduces the potential for head injury by 85%.

California’s car seat law requires that children use a child safety restraint system until they are either 6 years old or 60 pounds.

It’s also important that your car safety seat be installed properly to insure that your child is fully protected. Sadly, an estimated 90% of child restraints are used incorrectly.

Call the manufacturer to check recalls or check online at Seat Safety – The 5-Step Test

Lap and shoulder belts protect average size adults, but children need additional protection. Booster seats give children the lift they need so that lap and shoulder belts can do their job. Children should stay in a booster seat until the adult lap belt stays on the upper thighs, away from their stomach, and the shoulder belt comes across the chest without rubbing their neck. Passengers should never ride with the shoulder belt under their arm or behind their back. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends using a booster seat until the child is 8 years old, 80 pounds, and 4′ 9″ tall. If your child is NOT riding in a booster, try this 5-Step Test:

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Does the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Is the lap belt below the tummy, touching the thighs?
  4. Is the shoulder belt centered on the shoulder and chest?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to ride safely in the car.

Secure your child in a rear-facing seat:

Make sure that:

  • Harness straps are at or below the shoulder level
  • Harness straps are snug
  • The retainer clip is at the armpit level
  • The harness straps are threaded correctly

Placing the seat in your car:

Make sure that:

  • The car seat is ALWAYS in the back seat
  • The car seat is NEVER in the front seat with an airbag!
  • You keep your baby rear facing until at least AGE 1 & 20 POUNDS
  • Once your baby reaches 20 pounds you can use a rear facing convertible seat which goes to 30-35 pounds

Getting a proper fit:

Make sure that:

  • You read the instruction manual that came with your seat
  • You read your car owners manual
  • The car seat should be reclined at a 45 degree angle
  • The car seat should not move more than 1 inch at the belt path

Miscellaneous tips:

  • Dress the baby in one outfit and DO NOT bundle in a blanket; the straps need to fit through the legs.
  • NEVER place padding or blankets under or behind the baby
  • Always buckle the baby in the seat
  • NEVER hold your baby in your lap when riding in the carContact your local California Highway Patrol office for fitting station appointments.
  • Use your cell phone only when parked, or have a passenger use it.
  • Never dial the phone or take notes while driving.
  • If your phone rings while driving, let the cellular voice mail service take the call and listen to the message later when you are parked.

These tips are meant to protect you, your family, and everyone else on the road. Cell phones are wonderful tools, when used safely.

The cellular phone industry posts the following tips, which we believe are insufficient for driving safety. Still, if you follow only these safety tips, you can make a big difference in the safety of our roads:

Get to know your phone

Get to know your phone and its features such as speed dial and redial. Carefully read your instruction manual and learn to take advantage of valuable features most phones offer including, automatic redial and memory dial. Most phones can store up to 99 numbers in memory dial. Also, work to memorize the phone keypad so you can use the speed dial function without taking your attention off the road.

Use hands free devices

When available, use a hands free device. A number of hands free wireless phone accessories are readily available today. Whether you choose an installed mounted device for your phone or a speaker phone accessory, take advantage of these devices if available to you. (***Note, studies have shown that the distraction of a driver’s attention from the road contributes to accidents involving cellular phones and that hands free devices do not reduce the incidence of accidents***)

Position your phone within easy reach

Position your phone within easy reach. Make sure you place your wireless phone within easy reach and where you can grab it without removing your eyes from the road. If you get an incoming call at an inconvenient time, let your voice mail answer it for you.

Suspend conversation during hazardous conditions

Suspend conversations during hazardous driving conditions or situations. Let the person you are speaking to know you are driving. If necessary, suspend the call in heavy traffic or hazardous weather conditions. Rain, fog, snow and ice can be hazardous, but so is heavy traffic. As a driver, your first responsibility is to pay attention to the road.

Pay attention to the road

Do not take notes or look up phone numbers while driving. If you are reading an address book or business card while driving a car, or writing a “to do” list, then you are not watching where you are going. It’s common sense. Don’t get caught in a dangerous situation because you are reading or writing and not paying attention to the road or nearby vehicles.

Dial sensibly and assess the traffic

Dial sensibly and assess the traffic. If possible, place calls when you are not moving or before pulling into traffic. Try to plan your calls before you begin your trip, or attempt to coordinate your calls with times you may be stopped at a stop sign, red light or otherwise stationary. But if you need to dial while driving, follow this simple tip: dial only a few numbers, check the road and your mirrors, then continue.

Do not engage in distracting conversations

Do not engage in stressful or emotional conversations that may be distracting. Stressful or emotional conversations and driving do not mix. They are distracting and even dangerous when you are behind the wheel. Make people you are talking with aware you are driving. If necessary, suspend phone conversations which have the potential to divert your attention from the road.

Use your phone to call for help

Use your phone to call for help. Your wireless phone is one of the greatest tools you can own to protect yourself and your family in dangerous situations. With your phone at your side, help is only three numbers away. Dial 911 in the case of fire, traffic accident, road hazard, or medical emergencies. Remember, it is a free call on your wireless phone!

Use your phone to help others

Use your phone to help others in emergencies. Your wireless phone provides you a perfect opportunity to be a “good Samaritan” in your community. If you see an auto accident, crime in progress or other serious emergency where lives are in danger, call 911, as you would want others to do for you.

Call roadside assistance when necessary

Call roadside assistance or a special wireless non-emergency assistance number when necessary. Certain situations you encounter while driving may require attention, but are not urgent enough to merit a call to 911. But you can still use your wireless phone to lend a hand. If you see a broken-down vehicle posing no serious hazard, a broken traffic signal, a minor traffic accident where no one appears injured, or a vehicle you know to be stolen, call roadside assistance or other special non-emergency wireless number.

The 10 Golden Rules on Internet Safety

  1. Ask your parents for permission before you log on! Read the internet safety tips together with your parents, teacher or guardian. Let them know what you are up to on-line. Only use the Internet when your parents have given you permission, and only for the time they allowed you to use it.
  2. Tell your parents to spend time with you while online. You might want to know some guidelines that your parents are concerned in the use of the computer such as time and the places to go in the World Wide Web. Show them your favorite places in the internet. Tell them about the people you meet on-line, and the things you talk about. Let them know of your keypals and their traditions. Get them involved in your on-line activities!
  3. Post your family’s e-mail address even if you have your own! It’s neat to have your own e-mail address but it is always a good idea to post your family’s address, and then inform your own address after you are absolutely sure that the sender is trustworthy.
  4. Do NOT give out your home address, parents work address, or school information. This also holds true for telephone numbers. If you are entering a contest, or registering to enter new site, discuss it with your parents or guardians first and get their permission. Show them the site, and the reason you would want to give out your address. If you have a PO Box, use that as your address. If you want to become “snail mail” pals with someone you should talk to your parents about it first, and get their permission to give out your address.
  5. You should NOT use your real last name while you are on-line, especially if it is unusual. A better idea is to use your middle name as a last name, or have fun and make one up. If you do decide that you would like to use your real last name, please talk to your parents about it first.
  6. Never agree to meet anyone, anywhere without talking to your parent or guardian about it and getting their approval. People may not be who they say they are. If you do decide to meet with someone that you have met on-line, talk to your parents first. If they agree to the meeting, have them come with you and meet in a public place (where there are a lot of other people around).
  7. Never give out your password to anyone for any reason. The ONLY people that NEED to know it, already have it, no matter what they tell you.
  8. Don’t reply to any e-mail messages if you feel that they are offensive, strange, mean or upsetting to you. Show the message immediately to your parents or teachers or any adult you trust so they may take the proper action or advise you on what to do. This is usually the best solution.
  9. Don’t send scanned pictures of yourself or your family to anyone unless you have your parent’s approval. If you have a homepage, your parents should also determine the pictures that you should post.
  10. Stop right away if you see or read something on a Web site that is upsetting or offensive to you. Some sites are not meant for children and you might have accidentally reached that site through a hyperlink. Talk to your parents or teacher about it.

Your young child is naturally curious about his surroundings, and does not always realize the dangers with touching an electrical outlet, or playing near a hot oven. Childproofing your home is one of the best ways to avoid accidental injuries.

It is always important to remember that if a child is determined enough, any safety devices can be defeated. NOTHING is as effective as your own supervision. The following are a few basic childproofing tips for your home:

The Kitchen

  • Always unplug appliances when not in use. If it is an appliance that you are unable to unplug, such as a garbage disposal, consider using a Switch Lock. You are still able to use the appliance, but your child is protected from accidentally turning it on.
  • Use Cord Shorteners to minimize the length of your appliance cords. Children can easily become entangled in long cords, or can pull appliances down upon themselves.
  • Install Outlet Covers, Outlet Plugs, and Plug Locks on all outlets and cords that are not currently in use.
  • Always turn handles to the center of the stove so children are unable to pull pots and pans on top of themselves.
  • Use Stove Knob Covers and Oven Locks to ensure that children are not able to burn themselves.
  • Install Safety Locks and Latches on all cabinets and drawers to safeguard against children finding sharp utensils and household cleaners.
  • Keep all kitchen wraps, and food storage bags out of the reach of young children. Serrated edges on boxes, and plastic bags always present a danger for youngsters.
  • If your countertops do not have rounded edges, consider investing in Corner Cushions, to help guard against scrapes and bruises.
  • Secure swinging doors with a hook-and-eye latch, or with a Grip & Lock door catch to keep children from pinching their fingers or bumping their heads.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher in an easy-to-reach location, and know how to properly use it.

The Bathroom

  • Install a childproof lock on your medicine cabinet, no matter how high it is located on the wall. Keep all of your prescription medications in child-resistant containers, and lock up all cleaning supplies.
  • Set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding burns to small hands. It is also a good idea to install anti-scald devices to all faucets. It takes just three seconds of exposure to 140° water for children under the age of 5 to receive a third degree burn requiring hospitalization and skin grafts.
  • Install non-slip services and grab bars in the tub and shower areas. Also, be sure that your shower enclosures are constructed of safety glass.
  • Do not leave any electrical appliances near the bathtub or sink, where young children could easily pull them in.
  • Never leave your child unattended in the bathtub. A child is able to drown in less than 2 inches of water.
  • Install a safety gate or Doorknob Cover to keep inquisitive youngsters out of the bathroom when you are not around.
  • It is a good idea to put a spout cover over the bathtub faucet, and tub-knob covers on the knobs to prevent a child from turning the hot water on.
  • Opt for floors with non-slip surfaces such as vinyl or carpet, and install Swivel Outlet Covers on all electrical outlets.

The Living Room

  • Install Window Locks on all open windows to prevent crushed fingers, and escapes to the outdoors.
  • Eliminate the loop in two-corded horizontal blinds and in pleated and cellular shades, and in the case of vertical blinds, install a cord tie-down device to prevent strangulation.
  • Never position a piece of furniture or large object near a window where a child can climb up to the level of the glass.
  • Remove any unstable furnishings that a child could easily pull over.
  • Remove or tighten all knobs of furniture that a child could easily pull off and swallow.
  • Invest in Corner Cushions and edge bumpers for sharp corners and rough edges on tables and chests.
  • Make sure that if you own a liquor cabinet or bar it is kept securely locked.
  • Install a plastic lock shield on your VCR to keep inquisitive fingers from front-loading units.
  • Install Outlet Covers, Outlet Plugs, and Plug Locks on all outlets and plugs that are not currently in use.

The Bedroom/ Nursery

  • Make sure that crib bars are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart, or the width of about three adult fingers, so that the baby cannot become caught. Check to see that decorative cutouts are small enough to keep a baby’s head from becoming trapped. Also, make sure that corner posts are no higher than 5 inches above the end boards.
  • Find a mattress that fits well enough that there is room for no more than 2 fingers between it and the sides of the crib. As for bumper pads, make sure that there are at least six ties to secure it, and the ties are no more than 12 inches long. Remove the pads as soon as the child is able to stand and lower the mattress to at least 26 inches below the top of the side rail, so that the child is unable to crawl out.
  • Install Door Knob Protectors to ensure that young children will not lock themselves in.
  • Install window guards, and window locks to prevent falls and crushed fingers.
  • Use an intercom system or a monitoring device, so that you are able to observe your child at all times. A cellular or cordless phone is also a good idea, since you can carry it through the house with you- always keeping your child in sight.
  • Install Outlet Covers, Outlet Plugs, and Plug Locks on all outlets and plugs that are not currently in use.
  • Consider using ceiling lights instead of lamps, which a child could pull down on top of himself, or become entangled in the cord.

General Information

  • Install hardware-mounted secure safety gates at the top and bottom of any stairways in your home. Consider using Door Knob Protectors on any doors that open into a stairway to prevent fall-related injuries.
  • Make sure that the gaps between the upright posts on railings are not more than 4 inches apart. If they are, cover the railing with a fine, heavyweight netting so a child cannot become caught between the rails.
  • Make certain that the doors to walk-in closets and pantries can be opened from the inside as well as the outside.
  • Decorate glass doors with colorful decals so that a child does not attempt to run though what he could mistake for an open space between rooms or to the outside.
  • Ensure that old-fashioned radiators are inaccessible to infants and small children by blocking them with heavy pieces of furniture or decorative screens.
  • Secure area rugs with nonskid pads or heavy pieces of furniture. Children could easily slip and bruise themselves on unsecured rugs.
  • Avoid thick pile carpeting if at all possible. Small objects such as buttons and sewing needles can hide within the pile, easily finding their way to your child’s mouth. Opt for tightly woven, flat-weave, or low-pile carpeting.
  • Replace worn electrical cords.
  • Padlock fuse boxes.
  • Keep a light bulb in every socket.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher in an easy-to-reach location, and know how to properly use it.

Winter driving this year seems to be especially hazardous. Portions of California are receiving record rainfall.  There are reports of drivers being locked in their cars for hours at a time due to snow. Here are some safe driving tips to keep in mind when bad weather hits.

Driving in the Rain

The most important thing to remember when driving in wet conditions is your reaction time and stopping power are not the same as under dry conditions.  It can take up to 3 times the distance to stop on wet pavement as opposed to dry pavement.  For example, a car going 35 mph which normally comes to a stop at 210 feet on dry pavement may take up to 600 feet to stop on wet pavement.  The stopping distance increases exponentially as the car’s speed increases.  Even when it isn’t raining, slightly wet pavement mixed with dust, oil, and grease can be extremely slick.  If the pavement is wet the best rule is to slow down.

In the event you start to skid, the general rule of thumb is to steer towards the direction in which you are skidding until you regain traction.  However, the braking system varies from vehicle to vehicle.  It’s a good time to refresh your memory and re-read your car owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended braking technique.

Keeping your vehicle speed down is also the best way to avoid hydroplaning, which is the total loss of traction as the car tires lose contact with the road’s surface when traveling over an area of standing water.  If you see an area of standing water, slow down.  Hitting a puddle or an area of standing water at high speed, in addition to hydroplaning, can cause your car to stall.

When driving in the rain on the larger highways, the center lane is usually the driest lane since the rainwater tends to drain towards the edges.

Visibility of your vehicle and the ability to be seen by other vehicles is also very important to your safety when driving under these conditions.  For your own visibility, make sure to use the defroster or the air conditioner to keep your windshield and mirrors clear.  A new California law makes it mandatory to turn on your headlights at any time the windshield wipers are in use or when visibility is limited to 1000 ft.  As is the case with fog and snow, rain also reflects headlights back to the driver.  When driving in the rain, use low beam instead of high-beam setting to avoid dealing with light reflected back towards you.  AAA has some extra driving tips, too.

Driving in the Snow

Most of the above mentioned tips for driving in the rain apply to driving in the snow.  However, when preparing to drive through the snow it is even more important that you check the condition of your antifreeze, and washer fluid levels and ensure that they are appropriate for cold weather driving.  You should also check the treads on your tires and ensure that they are inflated to the right pressure.   Your brakes, exhaust system, wipers, heater, and defrost system should also be in good working order. It is even more important that you maintain a slow steady speed in snow and on icy roads.  At 40 mph a car that takes 110 feet to stop on dry pavement can take up to 770 feet to stop on ice.  Once again, review your owner’s manual for the suggested technique for your car’s particular braking system.  Inappropriate use of your brakes can lead to loss of control in icy conditions, so be sure you use your brakes cautiously.

When driving in deep snow keep a steady safe speed since you may need to use your car’s momentum to keep moving under these conditions. Coming to a complete stop may cause your car to become stuck in the snow.

If you are planning a trip through snowy areas, put together a travel kit that includes a sturdy ice scraper, a de-icer, sand to place under your tires, water, food, extra jackets and warm blankets.  Some preparation can help avoid disaster in the event you become stranded. Additional tips on driving in the snow can be found at:

Driving in Fog

The San Joaquin Valley is notorious for fog, which can make driving nearly impossible.  If you must drive through the fog, keep in mind these safety tips:

  • Decrease speed and following distance to maximize reaction time for sudden stops.
  • Avoid crossing traffic unless absolutely necessary since the other drivers’ visibility may be worse.
  • Maintain optimum visibility by using low-beam headlights instead of high-beam headlights.  The high reflectivity of fog will actually impair visibility if headlights are at a high-beam setting.
  • Stay on the right side of the road to decrease the possibility of collisions with oncoming traffic.  Also, drive with patience and resist the urge to pass slower traffic.
  • Reduce all audio distractions while driving in the fog.  If your visibility is minimal you may be able listen for oncoming traffic to avoid a collision.
  • If visibility drops and you feel driving is too hazardous, pull off to the side of the road, turn off all your lights, and move as far away from the car as possible.

Find more safe driving tips at:

An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the Earth caused by the breaking and shifting rock beneath the Earth’s surface. The San Joaquin Valley is in the middle of some of the most active earthquake faults in California. Following these earthquake safety tips may save lives.

Prepare a Home Earthquake Plan:

Choose a safe place in every room–under a sturdy table or desk or against an inside wall where nothing can fall on you.

  • Practice DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON at least twice a year. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there’s no table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you. Teach children to DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON!
  • Choose an out-of-town family contact.
  • Consult a professional to find out additional ways you can protect your home, such as bolting the house to its foundation and other structural mitigation techniques.
  • Take a first aid class. Keep your training current.
  • Get training in how to use a fire extinguisher from your local fire department.
  • Inform babysitters and caregivers of your plan.

Eliminate Hazards, including:

  • Bolting bookcases, china cabinets, and other tall furniture to wall studs.
  • Installing strong latches on cupboards.
  • Strapping the water heater to wall studs.

Prepare a Disaster Supplies Kit for Home & Car, including:


  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • At least three gallons of water per person.
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions for how to turn off gas, electricity, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)
  • Keeping essentials, such as a flashlight and sturdy shoes, by your bedside.

Know What to do When the Shaking Begins:


  • DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON! Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit. Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
  • If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.
  • If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
  • If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place (as described above). Stay in the car until the shaking stops.

Identify What to do After the Shaking Stops:

  • Check yourself for injuries. Protect yourself from further danger by putting on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and work gloves.
  • Check others for injuries. Give first aid for serious injuries.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Eliminate fire hazards. Turn off the gas if you smell gas or think it is leaking. (Remember, only a professional should turn it back on.)
  • Listen to the radio for instructions.
  • Expect aftershocks. Each time you feel one, DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON!
  • Inspect your home for damage. Get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
  • Use the telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies.

Vacation is a time for fun and relaxation. Don’t let yours be ruined by a crime or accident. Follow these crime prevention tips by being safe and being smart!

Secure your place of residence:

  • Make sure the locks on all doors and windows are in good working order. USE THEM!
  • Engrave all your valuables with your Driver’s License number.
  • Never leave your residence key hidden outside.
  • Make your house/apartment appear that someone is at home. Use timers for lights and radios.
  • Have a neighbor or friend pick up mail, packages, and newspapers.
  • Leave trip plans and an emergency phone number with trusted neighbor and friends.
  • Arrange to have grass mowed while you’re gone.
  • Activate your home alarm, if you have one.

Packing your Bags:

  • Clean out your wallet or purse before you go. Take only essential credit cards.
  • Carry your purse close to your body, or wallet in an inside front pocket.
  • Pack as lightly as possible. Lots of heavy, cumbersome bags will slow you down and make you more vulnerable to getting robbed.
  • Expensive, designer luggage can draw unneeded attention to your belongings. Pack your things in inconspicuous bags.
  • Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage. Keep anything of value such as medicine and jewelry in a carry-on that stays with you.
  • If you are going on an extended vacation, consider shipping large bags to your destination in advance. For the return trip, mail bulky new purchases home, or ask merchants to do it for you.

On the Road:

  • Never carry large amounts of cash. Use travelers’ checks.
  • If you have to carry large amounts of money, do not display it openly.
  • Keep a record of traveler’s check numbers and your credit card numbers in a safe place.
  • Have telephone numbers to call in case your credit card or checks are stolen or lost.
  • Never advertise your plans, travel routes, or the amount of money you are carrying to strangers.
  • If your car breaks down, raise the hood and attach a white cloth to the car antenna.
  • If you must leave your car, keep all passengers together.
  • Carry a cellular phone.


  • Ask for directions at a hotel/motel on how to get to those attractions you want to see.
  • Select your guides carefully.
  • Ask if there are any areas in town you should avoid.
  • If the group plans to go off separately, be sure to make a plan for getting back together at an appointed time.

Hotel and Motel Security:

  • Determine the most direct route to and from your room, to the fire escapes, elevators, and the nearest phone.
  • When occupying or leaving your room, use all auxiliary locking devices on doors and windows.
  • Use the door viewer to identify anyone requesting entry.
  • Unpack and place belongings in the closet and dresser.
  • Arrange your things so you will know if anything is missing.

When winter arrives in the San Joaquin Valley, so does Tule fog. The following are driving safety tips for safely maneuvering through the fog.

  • Drive with lights on LOW beam. High beams will reflect off the fog, creating a “white wall” effect.
  • Reduce your speed. Watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.
  • Be patient! Do not pass lines of traffic.
  • Avoid crossing traffic lanes unless absolutely necessary.
  • Travel with the driver’s window partially open so that you can listen for traffic you cannot see.
  • Use wipers and defroster as necessary for maximum vision.
  • Watch for CHP pace cars to guide you.
  • Unless absolutely necessary, do not stop on any freeway or other heavily traveled road.
  • If your car is disabled or you cannot continue, pull well onto the shoulder and turn off lights. Move away from your vehicle.
  • Consider postponing your trip until the fog lifts.Before leaving home, check on road condition with CalTrans at 1-800-427-7623 or CLICK HERE for the CalTrans website.

Preparation and prevention is the key to home fire safety.

General Fire Safety and Protection Tips:

Make sure all family members know what to do in the event of a fire. Draw a floor plan with at least two ways of escaping every room. Make a drawing for each floor. Dimensions do not need to be correct. Make sure the plan shows important details: stairs, hallways and windows that can be used as fire escape routes.

Test windows and doors-do they open easy enough? Are they wide enough or tall enough?

Choose a safe meeting place outside the house.

Practice alerting other family members. It is a good idea to keep a bell and flashlight in each bedroom.

Conduct a Family Meeting:

Conduct a family meeting and discuss the following topics:

  • Always sleep with the bedroom doors closed. This will keep deadly heat and smoke out of bedrooms, giving you additional time to escape.
  • Find a way for everyone to sound a family alarm. Yelling, pounding on walls, whistles, etc. Practice yelling “FIRE!”
  • In a fire, time is critical. Don’t waste time getting dressed, don’t search for pets or valuables. Just get out!
  • Roll out of bed. Stay low. One breath of smoke or gases may be enough to kill.

Be Prepared – Plan Ahead:

Practice evacuating the building blindfolded. In a real fire situation, the amount of smoke generated by a fire most likely will make it difficult to see.

Practice staying low to the ground when escaping.

Feel all doors before opening them. If a door is hot, get out another way.

Learn to stop, drop to the ground, roll if clothes catch fire.

Additional Tips for Fire Safety:

Install Smoke Detectors: Check smoke detectors once a month and change the batteries at least once a year. Smoke detectors sense abnormal amounts of smoke or invisible combustion gases in the air. They can detect both smoldering and burning fires. At least one smoke detector should be installed on every level of a structure. Purchase smoke detectors labeled by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM).

Post Emergency Numbers Near Telephone: Be aware that if a fire threatens your home, you should not place the call to emergency services from inside the home. It is better to get out and place the call to fire authorities from a safe location outside the home.

After a Fire Emergency: Give first aid where appropriate. Seriously injured victims should be transported to professional medical help immediately. Stay out of the damaged building. Return only when fire authorities say it is safe.

Make Sure You Have a Safe Fire Escape Method for all Situations: You may have installed a very expensive home security system. But if you cannot escape the burning structure you have a false level of confidence.

Space Heaters Need Space: Keep portable and space heaters at least 3 feet from anything that may burn. Never leave heaters on when you leave home or go to sleep. Children and pets should always be kept away from them.

Smokers Need to be Extra Careful: Never smoke in bed or when you are sleepy. Carelessly discarded cigarettes are a leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.

Be Careful Cooking: Keep cooking areas clear of combustibles and wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when you cook. Keep the handles of your pots turned inward so they do not over-hang the stove. If grease catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan and smother the flames, then turn off the burner.

Matches and Lighters are Dangerous: In the hands of a child, matches and lighters can be deadly! Store them where kids can’t reach them, preferably in a locked area. Teach children that matches and lighters are “tools” and should only be used by adults.

Use Electricity Safety: If an appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately and have it repaired. Replace frayed or cracked electrical cords and don’t overload extension cords. They should not be run under rugs. Never tamper with the fuse box or use the improper size fuse.

Cool a Burn: If someone gets burned, immediately place the wound under cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. If the burn blisters or chars, see a doctor immediately!

Be Careful of Halogen Lights: If you have halogen lights, make sure they are away from flammable drapes and low ceiling areas. Never leave them on when you leave your home or office.

Fire can engulf a house in 60 seconds!

Make sure you have a safe and quick method of escape!

Use this checklist to prepare your children for a safe school year.

  • Be sure your child knows his or her home phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult, and how to use 911 for emergencies.
  • Make sure your child has enough change to make a phone call or carries a telephone calling card.
  • Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and use intersections with crossing guards. Test the route with your child. Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren’t many people around.
  • Teach children — whether walking, biking, or riding the bus to school — to obey all traffic signals, signs, traffic officers, and safety patrols. Remind them to be extra careful in rainy, foggy, or snowy weather.
  • Make sure they walk to and from school with others — a friend, neighbor, brother, sister.
  • When car pooling, drop off and pick up children as close to school as possible. Don’t leave until they have entered the school yard or building.
  • Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children doesn’t know well or doesn’t trust.
  • For both children and parents, school bus safety is an important issue that many people overlook. In this first week of school, it is crucial that communities know the traffic safety rules.

Walking and Biking to School:

  • Mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard – never cross the street against a light, even if you don’t see any traffic coming.
  • Walk your bike through intersections.
  • Walk with a buddy.
  • Wear reflective material … it makes you more visible to street traffic.

Riding the Bus:

  • Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to pick the children up.
  • Always stand 4 giant steps back from the curb. When lining up, make the line away from the street.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • If the children have to cross the street to access the door, teach them to take at least six giant steps forward on the sidewalk before turning to cross the street. That way, the children and the bus driver can see each other.
  • Teach children to look around them before they get on and off the bus, so as not to leave anything behind.
  • Make children aware of the straps on their book bags, as well as any drawstrings that might be hanging from their clothes. These can easily get caught in the door or railings, so children need to take care to keep them secure.
  • Tell children that if they do drop something near the bus, tell the driver before they do anything. It is important to make sure that the bus driver knows where they are at all times.

If your child is home alone for a few hours after school:

  • Set up rules for locking doors and windows, answering the door or telephone.
  • Make sure he or she checks in with you or a neighbor immediately after school.
  • Agree on rules for inviting friends over and for going to a friend’s house when no adult is home.
  • Take time to listen carefully to children’s fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts. Take complaints about bullies and other concerns seriously.
  • If he or she wants to change plans after school, always have him or her check first with a parent. Never play in parks, malls, or video arcades by yourself. Make sure you have your parents’ permission, and they know where you are going to be.

A swimming pool in the yard can be very dangerous for children. Each year, many children drown in backyard swimming pools and in small kiddie pools. If possible, do not put a swimming pool in your yard until your children are older than 5 years. Children are in danger because:

  • They like to play in water.
  • They move quickly.
  • They can drown in only a few centimeters (1 inch) of water.

If you have a pool, protect the children from drowning

  • Supervision is the key word when it comes to pool safety. Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment. Don’t be distracted by doorbells, phone calls, chores or conversation. If you must leave the pool area, take the children with you, making sure the pool gate latches securely when it closes.
  • Always keep your eyes on the children. Designate a child watcher, whether you or someone else, when you attend a party or have friends or family over.
  • You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool. This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children’s reach.
  • A power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) adds to the protection of your children but should not be used in place of the fence between your house and the pool. Even fencing around your pool and using a power safety cover will not prevent all drownings.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd’s hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Do not let your child use air-filled “swimming aids” because they are not a substitute for approved life vests and can be dangerous.
  • Children under the age of 3 and children who cannot swim must wear a life jacket or personal floatation device.
  • Anyone watching young children around a pool should learn CPR and be able to rescue a child if needed. Stay within an arm’s length of your child.
  • Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren’t tempted to reach for them.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can’t get back into it.
  • Send children to swimming and water safety lessons.
  • Talk with babysitters about pool safety, supervision and drowning prevention.
  • Post rules such as “No running,” “No pushing,”, “No dunking,” and “Never swim alone”. Enforce the rules.
  • Don’t assume that drowning or a drowning incident couldn’t happen to you or your family.
  • Empty wading pools immediately after use and turn them over.

Remember, teaching your child how to swim DOES NOT mean your child is safe in water.

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