- Meet the sitter and check references and training in advance.
- Be certain the sitter has had first-aid training and knows CPR.
- Be sure the baby sitter is at least 13 years old and mature enough to handle common emergencies.
- Have the sitter meet the children and learn their routines before babysitting.
- Show the sitter around the house. Point out fire escape routes and potential problem areas. Instruct the sitter to leave the house right away in case of fire and to call the fire department from a neighbor’s house.
- Discuss feeding, bathing and sleeping arrangements for your children.
- Tell your sitter about any allergies or specific needs your children have.
- Have emergency supplies available, including a flashlight, first aid chart and first aid supplies.
- Tell the sitter where you will be and when you will return.
- Be sure any guns are stored unloaded in a locked cabinet.
Baby sitters should collect the following information:
- Name of the parents (first and last names)
- Address and phone number of the home
- The nearest cross streets
- Phone number where the parents can be reached
- Phone number of an available adult (neighbor)
- List of the child’s allergies and medications
- Child’s doctor’s name and emergency number
- Phone number for emergency services (911, police, ambulance, fire department)
- Phone number for poison control (800.282.3171)
Beach and Boat Rules
- Children should always wear life vests when in a boat or around unfamiliar waters. (Before buying or using a life vest, check to make sure it meets national safety standards.)
- Only take children to beaches when and where lifeguards are on duty.
- Never leave designated swimming areas at the beach. (There could be drop-offs or strong under currents.)
Bike Safety Tips
Make sure every bike ride is fun and safe:
- Select the right bike for your body size. While sitting on the seat, with your hands on the handlebars, your feet should flatly touch the ground.
- Make sure all shoes are properly tied and that clothes are snug. Laces and baggy pants can get caught in the moving parts of your bike.
- Wear bright colors so you are easily seen by motorists.
- Never ride your bike while wearing headphones.
- Before riding, make sure your bike’s brakes are in working order and all tires are properly inflated.
- Always ride with the flow of traffic.
- Respect all traffic signals and signs.
- Avoid riding your bike at night whenever possible.
Car Seat Safety
It is important to choose a child safety seat that fits tightly in your vehicle and is appropriate for your infant’s size and weight. When installing the child safety seat, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as well as the instructions for using the seat belt system that can be found in your vehicle owner’s manual. If the child safety seat is not used properly, your infant will not be fully protected in a crash. Child safety seat checks by experts are highly recommended.
Clean and Cavity-Free Teeth
Dental tips for kids and parents:
- Kids should brush their teeth and gums every morning and night.
- Brushing teeth helps remove leftover food and prevents bacteria from forming cavities.
- Children under 8 years of age may need help brushing their teeth.
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride makes teeth harder and less likely to decay.
- Kids should floss between their teeth every day.
- Around age 2 or 3, children should start routine visits to the dentist.
- Sealants help prevent decay, so new teeth should be sealed soon after they come in.
- Snack on fruits and vegetables instead of sugary foods.
Good Study Habits
How to help kids hit the books:
- Be consistent with your study time and location.
- Create a to-do list at the start of each study session.
- Studying should begin as soon as you sit down.
- Take regular breaks to refresh your brain. Try 45 minutes of studying with 15 minutes of rest.
- Maintain a balanced diet; eating well gives your brain and body the fuel it needs to function properly.
- Get plenty of sleep, and avoid caffeine at night so you can get a full night’s rest.
- Physical activity increases your memory and ability to study. Try to exercise three or four times a week.
Green is Great: Protect Your Planet
Tips to go green:
- Make full use of local recycling programs.
- Encourage your family and friends to recycle.
- Join your school’s student environmental club or start your own.
- Ask your parents about ways to help save energy at home.
- Turn off lights, ceiling fans and electronic devices when you’re not using them.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
- Talk to your parents about the benefits of public transportation.
- Plant trees in your yard and community, with adult supervision.
Halloween Safety Tips
- Never get into an unknown car or talk to strangers.
- Always look both ways before crossing the street.
- Always cross the street in crosswalks when the crossing light tells you to go.
- Make sure your costume is safe, fireproof and has large enough eye holes to see clearly.
- Watch low-hanging areas of your costume or trick-or-treat bag closely around candlelit jack-o-lanterns.
- If you’re carrying a prop such as a plastic knife or pitchfork, make sure it’s flexible and has smooth tips, so it can’t hurt anyone.
- Don’t eat candy without having an adult check it first for safety.
- Never carve a pumpkin without adult supervision.
- When carving a pumpkin, use a carving kit instead of a sharp knife. You can still be cut, though, so be very careful.
Healthy Food Choices
Good eating habits can improve mood, behavior and overall health and energy levels. Use the following tips to lead a healthier, happier life in the future:
- Snack on fruits and vegetables, not chips and cookies.
- Strengthen your bones with low-fat plain or chocolate milk.
- Choose whole-wheat bread for sandwiches.
- Cook fish for dinner.
- Skip the soda.
- Eat granola bars for dessert.
- Replace chicken fingers with turkey roll-ups.
- Stay hydrated with lots of water.
- Learn about food and nutrition. Education is key to maintaining a balanced diet.
- Eat breakfast (e.g., cold cereal, low-fat milk and juice).
- Eat fruits and vegetables to get the necessary vitamins and nutrients your body depends on. Don’t like fruits and vegetables? Try fruit and vegetable juices instead.
- Clean out your cupboards. Replace chips and cookies with healthier snack alternatives.
- Spend time in the kitchen. Try to be in the kitchen when meals are being prepared. You’ll eat more fresh food and learn important life lessons in the process.
- Don’t make drastic diet changes. Gradual changes are easier on your body, like reducing the fat content in your milk each week instead of all at once.
- Eat a healthier lunch. Chicken and turkey are good lower-fat sandwich meats. Ask for whole wheat instead of white bread, low-fat or nonfat mayonnaise instead of regular, and bite-size veggies or fruits instead of chips.
Heart Health Tips for Kids
- Get at least 20 minutes of exercise every day.
- Be active after school and before dinner.
- Play sports, either on a team or by yourself.
- Limit TV and computer time to less than two hours a day.
- Set physical fitness goals.
- Participate in physical education at school.
- Ask for healthy gifts, like a jump rope, for your birthday or the holidays.
- Take advantage of your city’s recreational opportunities, like soccer leagues and fun runs.
- If you get bored, get moving. Physical activity is fun and healthy.
Make Reading Fun
Tips to help you get the most out of reading:
- Read somewhere new. Reading in a park or while camping turns books into real adventures.
- Read together. Take turns reading aloud with family and friends.
- Read a book series. Reading a series helps you really get to know characters.
- Keep a journal. Writing about books you’ve read is a great way to track your progress.
- Read beyond books (e.g., magazines, newspapers, mail).
- Read before you travel. Before leaving on a trip, have fun reading about where you’re going.
- Read from A-Z. Read a book by an author whose last name begins with A, then B and so on.
- Start a book club. Read the same book as your friends, then talk about what you’ve read.
In the event of an accidental poisoning, call your Poison Control Center or doctor immediately. Attach your Poison Information Center number to your phone. Keep syrup of Ipecac on hand, but only use it if instructed to do so by the Poison Information Center or your doctor.
Florida Poison Control Center: 1.800.222.1222
Summer Pool Safety
- An adult who knows CPR should supervise children near water at all times.
- Swimming lessons are a must, but even this does not protect children from drowning.
- Teach children to use the buddy system.
- State laws require fencing around all pools to prevent accidental drowning. (Always lock the gate after use to discourage unsupervised swimming.)
- Safety equipment (such as a life ring, life hook and a poolside phone) should be easily accessible.
- No one should dive into pools, except in designated deep areas. (Hitting bottom is the cause of many serious neck and spine injuries.)
- Never run around the pool or leave toys where someone might trip over them.
- Keep pool chemicals out of reach of children.
- If the phone rings, let it ring. Never leave children alone, even for a minute.
- Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- When life jackets are used, make sure they are marked as U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
- Keep non-pool toys away from the pool area. Young children playing with the toys could fall in the water.
- Completely remove the pool cover so children do not become trapped beneath it.
Sports Safety Tips
Playing sports is a great way to exercise, make friends and have fun while learning teamwork and other life lessons. But playing sports can increase the risk of getting hurt. While accidents can happen, there are steps you can take to help prevent serious injuries.
- Before playing a sport, get a physical exam to ensure you are healthy and able to play.
- Be cautious when playing sports without adult supervision.
- Only play sports with kids of similar skill level, size and maturity.
- For emergency purposes, provide your coach or supervising adult with your parents’ names, addresses, phone numbers and any medical conditions or allergies.
- Obey safety rules at all times and always wear safety gear and equipment that fits properly.
- Get physically and mentally ready to play sports by learning and practicing basic skills.
- Warm up and stretch before every practice and game, and don’t forget to take rest breaks.
- To avoid dehydration, drink liquids before, during and after athletic activity.
- Beware of rocks, holes, puddles and other ground hazards, as well as lightning and other dangerous weather.
- If you get hurt, or think you are hurt, stop playing and seek help immediately.
- Remember, putting safety first, both on and off the field, will help make playing sports more fun and rewarding.
Sun Safety Tips
Protect yourself from the summer sun with these handy tips:
- The sun’s rays are strongest from 10:00 am — 4:00 pm. Try to stay out of direct sunlight during this time.
- The higher the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of your sunscreen, the better.
- Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15 if you plan on being outside for a long time.
- Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun.
- Make sure you use sunscreen on the places most people forget (e.g., ears, tops of feet, backs of legs, etc.).
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours (more often if you are sweating) and after swimming.
- Wear sunglasses designed to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Cover up with hats or long pants and long-sleeved shirts if possible.
- Play in the shade. It will protect you from the sun, and it’s actually a little cooler there.
- Umbrellas aren’t just for rainy days. They also create great shade.
- Avoid exposing babies to direct sun — their skin is very delicate and sunburns easily.