Family Safety Tips from Crime Stoppers

CREATING SAFETY AND INTERNET RULES FOR KIDS 


by Rania Mankarious
     Executive Director
     Crime Stoppers of Houston 


Editor's Note: Rania Mankarious is a Houston SuperMom. She has three young children and is committed to providing parents with useful family safety information.   

 
     Summer. It means sunshine, outdoor play, ice cream and wonderful memories. But with children's new-found freedom comes unique hazards that parents must consider and address.     

     Crime Stoppers of Houston has seen first-hand the hidden dangers lurking behind summer festivities. It is my goal and hope that neither you nor your loved ones ever come in harms way. So let's look at a few key areas, come up with preemptive solutions and make sure this summer is one for the record books!


INTERNET SAFETY

       Our kids live their lives online and this is a reality we all face. Do you know what your children are up to on a daily basis online? Take a moment to remind them of the following:

  1. 1 - We need to remain "digital citizens."  Tell them to be kind, respectful and not to bully - their actions online are not in an isolated bubble. 
  2. 2 - Remember that whatever is posted is there for the world to see. While you may want to take items off your social media pages in the future – once they are posted, someone else, somewhere else in the world only needs a few seconds to save your personal photos for their own personal use. Don't give people that power.
  3. 3 - Realize that child predators will prey where children gather and that includes online on social media websites. Remind kids that you never really know who you are talking to online.
  4. 4 - Never go alone to meet a person you meet online.
  5. 5 - Even when downloading programs or apps, never give too much personal information.
  6. 6 - Be careful about posting your families summer plans online. We don't need to let the world know when your home will be vacant!
 

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

         The stories of abduction survivors Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Lee Dugard have triggered discussions nationwide about missing children and public safety.

     These issues were reignited recently with the findings of three women in Cleveland who had been held in captivity for ten years - Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

     The questions are swirling: How could this have happened? How were the women snatched from the streets? The answer: this was a crime of opportunity. Cleveland police say all three young women made the single same mistake: they accepted a ride from their alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro.  

  1.      I think conversations surrounding public safety are always important. Here are some topics to discuss with your children:
  2. 1 - Make sure you reiterate that children and young adults should never get into a stranger's car.
  3. 2 - Create a list of individuals who are allowed to drive your children. This list can have as many names as you want on it – your children should agree that they will only accept rides from the people on the list.
  4. 3 - Make sure you teach your kids to fight if they are grabbed or attacked. Teach them to run and kick and scream. They must feel free to do whatever they need to do to stay safe.

 

WATER SAFETY

     Every week, my little ones go to their swim classes and the waiting room is filled with doting parents eyeing the achievements of their little swimmers. What we fail to realize is that swimming in a controlled environment is drastically different than being pushed or falling into a body of water and panicking. Children in the latter situation often drown.

     Parents, even when your kids are champion swimmers, let's still take these added precautions this summer:

  1. 1 - Make sure your pool area is fenced off. This will protect your children as well as the neighborhood kids.
  2. 2 - Install an alarm on all exit doors leading to the pool.
  3. 3 - Sit down with your children and have a family discussion highlighting which children are allowed to be outside by the pool and which are not. 
  4. 4 -Make sure even the young ones know that toddlers cannot be outside unattended.
  5. 5 - Make sure you, your spouse and caregiver all know what to do in case of an accident or emergency.


SUMMER HEAT SAFETY

      Family schedules change come summer time. From May through August, many parents who are not normally taking a child to daycare or a babysitter find themselves in just that position.

      Tragically, we have heard of stories of infants innocently left in cars who have died of heat stroke. In 2012, 32 children suffered that horrible fate. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a vehicle's inside temperature can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes. That means when it's 80 degrees outside, the internal temperature of your car will rise to 100 degrees in just ten minutes even with the window slightly cracked open. No child can withstand that heat.

      This tragedy is 100% preventable and Crime Stoppers of Houston wants to make sure it doesn't happen again this summer. Two things parents can get in the habit of doing when babies are in the back:

1 - Parents, place your purse or wallet in the backseat next to your child, you'll always look for your purse or wallet before leaving the car!

2 - Always place one of the baby's items in the front passenger seat so you are certain not to forget your child is in the car seat.

       These simple steps can save a child's life. Take a moment to do them next time your little one is in the car with you.

  

       In summary, my hope is that parents and kids will enjoy the summer months to the fullest! While you do that, know that we at Crime Stoppers of Houston remain dedicated to making your lives safer where you live, work and play.

CLICK HERE for more information on CRIME STOPPERS OF HOUSTON





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