My kids are officially at the age where they want to go to their friends' houses and hang out. I remember doing this all the time as a kid. From kindergarten, I'd get on my bike and ride to the houses of friends, and all over the neighborhood. The '90s were weird, right? It seemed as though as long as I came back alive, my parents weren't all too concerned. It's different, now, though. We're more vigilant about where our kids hang out. So what are the most dangerous things at other peoples' houses? It's not just your neighbor's liquor and switchblade collection.
While many people have differing opinions on perceived level of dangers in a home, there are a few constants that will always pose a risk. While there's no good way to completely shield your child from every danger that may befall them in their lives, you can mitigate the risks by knowing what they are, and talking them over with the home in which your child will be playing. Or, you could be like me and helicopter the heck out of your child, never letting them out of your sight, let alone letting them go to some other child's house. Wait, I mean, don't be like me. It's not healthy.
Guns are now the third leading cause of death in children, according to statistics. It is too easy to be killed accidentally by a gun, and parents are oftentimes loathe to be honest about whether or not they have them in their houses. I married a cop, and I was raised in a hunting community. I enjoy target practice myself occasionally.
I know all about the risks and dangers of guns, and also all about proper storage of the deadly firearms. There is no national mandatory education mandate to purchase a gun, so many people have no clue as to proper gun safety. Whether or not you allow your child to go to a home where the owner has guns is up to you, but ask them how easy the access is, if the owner has people come over that conceal or open carry, keep them in their purses, or in their cars. Ask them if they have a safe, if they use it, and if they've taken a firearms safety class.
Around 30 deaths are caused annually from fatal dog attacks, 42 percent of those are children, according to DogsBite.org. Children are the most frequent victims of mauling, maiming, and bites that break the skin.
I love dogs, I really do. I even adore the bully breeds like pitties, rotties, akitas, and caucasian mountain dogs, but unless you know that dog, and it is constantly supervised, you can't predict its behavior. Also, educate your child how to behave around dogs. Teach them how to approach a dog, why you shouldn't antagonize a canine, and tell them never to get near their food.
Sidenote: cats can totally also be jerks.
My mother is an emergency room nurse. Her mantra when I was growing up (in spite of her fairly cavalier attitude about most things) was "no trampolines, ever." She'd seen her fair share of awful trampoline-related injuries.
My uncle did not heed her warning, about that or about his long-lived, hideous mullet hairstyle he had for years, and his daughter, my cousin, broke the F out of her elbow on their trampoline that I wasn't allowed to even get near. It only took a few surgeries to fix.
Trampolines are so dangerous that the American Academy of Pediatrics straight up tells parents not to even consider buying one, yet, they're still widely available for purchase. Why? I have no idea.
4Medicines & Drugs
The United States is currently in an awful opioid crisis, and with that comes the use of illegal drugs. It's not a fringe problem. Where my family lives in Ohio, people are dying so frequently they have mobile morgues. Every time I go home to visit, I hear about another friend who has perished. While over-the-counter and prescription meds are very dangerous to children, and you need to educate your children about these, some of these street drugs can kill you just by picking them up. NBC News reported that children are dying at an alarming rate due to the drugs found in the home.
5Swimming Pools & Ponds
I am a swimmer and former lifeguard. I love the water. If I could spend all my days beside a pool or the ocean? I'd be thrilled. However, home pools and ponds are the number one site for accidental drowning in the United States, noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They need to have all proper safety equipment — a hook, a preserver, and rope — and be well supervised and attended by an adult who isn't distracted and who is an excellent swimmer. Personally, I would make sure that any person my child may swim with would have basic lifesaving skills and a pool safety course under their belt.
"You're more likely to be crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist" noted a Washington Post headline. And it's true. Unsecured furniture is dangerous. So much so that Ikea and other furniture manufacturers have issued massive recalls to fix the problem. There's another furniture danger in the house, and that's glass furniture. Some of it isn't made with the proper type of glass, and if there's an accident, it can be deadly.
Who doesn't love the crackling of a warm fire? It's comforting, relaxing, and gorgeous. It's also dangerous. The brick surround is ripe for lacerations and the fire is, well, fire. Not to mention the chimney needs maintenance so that the soot doesn't make it a bigger fire hazard.
8Unfettered Access To The Internet
While at your house your child might only be able to access the internet while they're in front of you, this is not always the case in other homes. There is so much creepy, predatory behavior on the internet, and you may not want your child to have unrestricted access to it, whether it's via iPad or XBox Live. It's best to find out house rules before you let little Timmy over and he finds out all about online bullying, Chris Hansen, and non-ethical porn.
9The Whole Kitchen
The kitchen is one big danger zone. From knives that aren't properly stored to pots with handles facing out to expired dairy products, the kitchen is a cesspool of horrors. On this front, it's best to take a look around. Observe the chef in their native habitat. Check for a fire extinguisher. Small children likely to be injured by chemical burns aren't often allowed at others' homes unsupervised, but it's good to educate children about them, anyway.
I won't even let my kid have snakes and sparklers if I'm not around, so I'm certainly not handing them off to TNT Tommy and his buddies who think that shooting bottle rockets at each other is entertainment. According to the CDC, children aged five to nine went to the emergency room for fireworks injuries at a greater rate than any other group.
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