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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Tricks, Treats and Spooky Sweets – 10 Creative Ideas for a Physically Distanced Halloween

mom with two toddlers with halloween bucket and decorcations

Halloween is going to look a little different this year as we follow physical distancing practices. Though children may not be trick-or-treating in your community, you can try the creative activities below to get your family into the Halloween spirit.  

  1. Mystery Bowls – Set up a spooky sensory experience for your children by filling bowls with cold spaghetti, grapes, gelatin and more. Blindfold your children and have them guess the foods as they feel them. For each correct guess, give your children a treat, such as pieces of candy, stickers or other fun items. 
  2. Monster Footprints – Cut out monster-shaped footprints from construction paper, and lay them out in a path throughout your house or yard. Have your children go on a monster hunt that leads to a special Halloween treat at the end of the path.  
  3. Ghost Toast – This deliciously spooky recipe is perfect for breakfast or a snack. Use a ghost-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a few pieces of bread, coat one side with butter and cinnamon sugar, and then toast them in the oven. Add miniature chocolate chips to make eyes and a mouth as a finishing touch, and enjoy!  
  4. “Boo” Someone – Help your children spread some Halloween fun! Leave an anonymous ghost-shaped note and a treat for your children telling them that they’ve been “boo-ed” with instructions to pass it on and “boo” three other friends or family members. 
  5. Bat Snacks – This Halloween snack is perfect for little fruit bats! Trace a bat-shaped cookie cutter on a piece of black construction paper, cut the bat shapes out and tape them to the end of wooden skewers. Help your children put cut-up fruit pieces onto the skewer, and enjoy the healthy treat. 
  6. Want My Mummy Game – This is a perfect way to get the whole family involved in Halloween fun! Group your household into two teams, and provide each with a roll of toilet paper. When you say go, each team will wrap a team member up like a mummy. The first team to finish the roll and wrap the mummy wins! 
  7. Monster Mash Freeze Dance – For active little ones, you can turn on the Monster Mash and have them freeze in monster poses whenever the music stops. 
  8. Spider Dance Game – This game is great for developing balance, especially in toddlers. Use painter’s tape to create a spider web on the floor, and sprinkle toy spiders in the holes of the web. Let your children walk on the web and pick up as many spiders as they can without losing their balance and stepping off the lines. 
  9. Halloween Car Parade – Try holding this physically distanced alternative to trunk or treat by coordinating with your neighbors and organizing a special Halloween car parade. Decorate your car, dress your children up in their costumes, buckle them in and drive around your neighborhood so everyone can enjoy the festivities. Take it a step further by organizing a contest with a prize for the best-decorated car! 
  10. Halloween Scavenger Hunt – Create a competition among your friends and family with this spooky scavenger hunt. Have your children dress up and take a family walk around the neighborhood as you take pictures or videos to record what you find from this list: 
  • Pretend spider webs 
  • A graveyard scene 
  • A ghost that looks like it’s flying 
  • A decoration that makes noise 
  • A real haystack 
  • A black cat 
  • Two scary skeletons 
  • A witch’s hat or broom 
  • A Halloween treat 
  • Black and orange lights 
  • A funny costume 
  • Two of the same costume 
  • A scary carved pumpkin 
  • A silly carved pumpkin 
  • A strobe light 
  • A pretend bat 
  • A spooky sign 
  • Something sparkly 
  • Three pieces of candy corn 
  • A skull 

Even though the Halloween celebrations will be physically distanced, your children can still have a blast! 

 

Your Child Can Have a Virtual Playdate!

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By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D.
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

In these swiftly changing times, recommendations for whether and how to maintain social connections require daily updates. If I had written this response a week ago, my advice would have been different than it is today. But our current situation is that in many places in the United States and globally, the governments have issued shelter at home orders requiring families to limit physical and social contact to immediate family members. In areas where these orders are not yet in place, they are likely to be soon. This means no playdates, no trips to the playground, no planned bike rides and no hikes or neighborhood walks with other families. Even maintaining six feet of separation is just too risky. Children are motivated to share and help, and they’ve practiced this for years. If a friend falls, the other friends will reach out their hands to help their friend up. If they have a delicious pack of gummy bears, they’ll give one to their friend. An equally important reason for not being flexible about seemingly low-risk outdoor outings with other families is that planning these outings sends children the wrong message about compliance with critical public health mandates. As parents, we must model best behaviors, set limits on behaviors and follow-through. Being clear now saves you from responding to endless pleas for playdates as time goes on.

All of these no’s are difficult to hear but the rationale is a strong one. We need to break the chain of contagion, and the only way to do that is by being united in our commitment to being physically separated. Given this new (and temporary, if we all do our part) parenting context, I’d like to offer an essential reminder: physical distancing does not have to mean social distancing. We’re lucky to live in times where technologies exist to help us connect in real time through our phones, tablets and computers. Social interaction is critical for the development of social skills, cognitive ability and mental health. Children of all ages can benefit from spending some virtual time with others during the upcoming weeks that they’ll spend at home.

Here are some tools and tips that can help you support your children’s need to maintain their relationships with others through the use of virtual playdates:

  • My favorite apps for children to use to connect in real time are Caribu (zero to eight years) and Houseparty (school-age);
  • Houseparty allows children to see multiple friends at once in a virtual hangout and even play games together, such as versions of charades, trivia, Pictionary, and Apples to Apples. Playing games requires some reading skills. My daughters spend hours on this app with their friends. Hearing their laughter fill the house reminds me that children are children, and they will find ways to have fun and play even when they’re not together;
  • Caribu is a subscription-based video chat app that recently won a Time Magazine Best Invention of 2019 award. This app combines video chatting with numerous choices for game playing and contains a library of books so that children can engage in book reading together or with distant relatives.
  • Video chat apps like Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google Duo and What’s App offer opportunities to see each other’s faces and chat, but they also can be used to encourage children to share their non-digital activities. Children show each other new dance moves, LEGO projects and artistic creations. Just last night, my daughter made cupcakes with a friend over facetime. They each made cupcakes at their own houses but followed the same recipe together in real time. This was their idea and they had an absolute blast! The use of video chat apps can also be supplemented with traditional games like 20 questions, Simon Says and charades;
  • Netflix Party is a Chrome browser extension that lets children watch their favorite movies and shows together. When one person pauses to get more popcorn, the show pauses for everyone. For children who can read and write, there is a chat option so they can comment on the program or anything else as they watch. For non-readers and writers, they can use video chat applications on another device to encourage.

A word about infants and toddlers Babies are naturally drawn to look at human faces, especially faces that are familiar to them. Research is clear that video chatting is a positive screen-based experience for infants and toddlers. For this age group, no additional materials are needed. Just let the children see one another and respond to each other’s facial expressions and emerging efforts to talk. Although research hasn’t investigated peer relationships, when infants and toddlers regularly see distant family members on video chat apps, they form and maintain positive relationships.

Note – Before handing over your phone, be sure to turn off notifications and lock the screen by selecting Screen Pinning on Androids or Guided Access on iPhones so that your child’s experience isn’t interrupted by accidental swiping or button pressing, and of course, give that phone a good sterile wipe down before and after allowing your child to play with it.

Caring for Our Littlest Ones During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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by Kyle Pruett, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

We have been asked by many parents of infants how to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. What do I do to make sure my baby is safe?  What if my child doesn’t have all the immunizations yet because she is too young? Should I isolate my family from our friends and close family members?

New parents and almost all parents with infants feel stressed at the best of times.  The COVID-19 crisis adds another layer. It is essential to take a deep breath, wash your hands, cuddle your child and repeat.

The most authoritative publication to date (Report of the WHO-China Joint Commission on COVID-19 /Feb 28, 2020) reported that no young children or infants were positive from November through January. The World Health Organization thinks children may be less susceptible. The very rare cases that have occurred were in families with adults who tested positive. No child-to-child or child-to-adult cases of transmission were reported. We hope this information can help to lessen your worries.

Do not worry if your child has not been vaccinated. Keep up the recommended routine of social distancing, handwashing and regular surface cleaning with standard household products. This routine is smart and is customary with a new infant in the home.

Don’t quarantine yourself from your close friends and family members. As long as they are healthy, without a fever and a cough, it is probably fine to be together in small groups during this tough time. If you need to practice social distancing to keep older family members safe, use this time to video chat and show off the baby’s smiles.

Anyone touching or holding the baby must wash their hands thoroughly first, because washing their hands cleans them better than hand sanitizer, and avoid taking the baby to crowded locations.

Limit your exposure to news and screens, avoid anxiety-ridden calls with colleagues and stay focused on the delights of being with your baby. Take time to sing, talk and read with your child. Just being in the moment with your baby will ease everyone’s stress.

During this stressful time, it is not productive to push ahead with sleep training or toilet training mastery. That is tough enough when all is going well around you. We all need to let ourselves slide back a little to keep our balance.

Remember – take deep breaths, wash your hands, cuddle your baby and repeat.

 

KYLE PRUETT, M.D. 

Through his groundbreaking work in child psychiatry, Dr. Pruett has become an internationally known expert on children, family relationships and fathering. He is a clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and is the author of award-winning books Me, Myself and I and Partnership Parenting.

 

Tips For Having a Safe, Happy and Healthy Halloween

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By Jack Maypole, MD
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Soon those goblins, NFL stars, witches and princesses will be trotting up the front walks of the neighborhood to ring doorbells for the goodies within on Halloween. While I suspect that it is far more likely children will get the treat than try a trick, there are some things you can do this year (and every year) to make the holiday a safe and enjoyable one.

For most children, costumes are a chance for joyful creativity and play. Have fun with your expressions but keep some key ideas in mind as you craft your own or grab something at the pop-up store. Check labels, looking for nontoxic makeup (keep it out of those eyes – it stings!) and materials that are clearly noted to be nonflammable.

Materials for those getups should allow the child to see clearly when crossing streets or navigating dark stairs – and to be seen. Finding a way to add reflective material to a treat bag, flashlight or another aspect of the costume is just a good idea. To help them make their way through the gloom of a nearly moonless night (a teensy waxing crescent moon this year), add a glow stick or a flashlight with fresh batteries. Thus equipped, children are ready to go haunting.

For younger children, going out in the late afternoon may be the right move. It prevents the disruption (and derangement) of a missed bedtime. Alternatively, check your local calendar, as many communities are moving toward having child-friendly trick-or-treats in some streets or business districts. For children of preschool or young elementary school age, chaperoning is a must. Depending on your children’s ages and stages, it isn’t a bad idea to quiz them on your phone number (if they know it) or to give them an easy-to-find slip of paper with your phone number on it in case they get lost in the crowds after dark. Hey, it gets crazy out there.

When the bags are full or when the little ones’ feet get tired, it is time to go home and count their booty. I recommend having an adult help the children sort their loot while making a game of it. Count items and put different candies in different piles while a grownup looks for items that might be spoiled, have damaged packaging or potentially be a concern for a child with food allergies. After that, it is a matter of style as to what parents do next. I am agnostic on this part. My dental colleagues mostly object on all counts, and I respect them for that.

Some families subscribe to the “binge now and be done” philosophy, where children live large for the evening, eat their fill and are mostly done with the bounty. Other families might allow a limited indulgence, letting children eat a few choice items and then storing the goods somewhere safe (meaning secret) for their later enjoyment. Whatever your approach, most often children haul in more than they can ever reasonably eat. I recommend setting aside a ration for the child and donating the rest to a worthwhile cause like Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to our troops.

Keep an eye on the children who eat with gusto, as no one needs a bellyache from overdoing it on All Hallows’ Eve. Happy haunting!

 

7 Sneaky Ways to Make a House Kid-Friendly

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Anyone else’s home victim to a messy (albeit adorable) tornado of a child? Same. But today we’re here to remind you that you don’t have to sacrifice on style to master function. Take this apartment by designer Jess Gersten: While luxe and immaculate at first glance, every last decision was made with her tiny clients (a six-month-old boy and three-year-old girl) in mind. Lucky for you, we’re spilling her secret pro tips below. 

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

ROUND-EDGE FURNITURE

No bumps and bruises in this tactile living room. Every piece of furniture that lands at toddler eye level or below was selected for its soft edges. See: the circular glass coffee table, the twin club chairs, the wooden accent table, the mid-century lounger.

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

WOOD

Gersten relied heavily on hardwood furnishings, which are super hard-wearing, impervious to stains and easy to wipe down in a pinch. (Also, no need to put a needs-to-vacuumed rug beneath a dining table when you’ve got those gorgeous floors.)

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

LEATHER (& FAUX LEATHER) UPHOLSTERY

The one question to ask yourself: Is this easy to wipe clean? The foyer bench seat is sealed leather, which makes it a safe spot for the kids to kick off their shoes after coming inside from the park. In the living room, the cushions and seat backs on the sofa sectional are also clad in easy-wipe faux leather.

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

VINYL WALLPAPER

Wall treatments are a gorgeous design statement—but they’re easy prey for grubby fingers and errant magic markers. The solution? Easy-wipe vinyl wallpaper from Elitis, which Gersten used across accent walls in all the bedrooms.

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

WOOL RUGS

We know what you’re thinking: Beige rugs in a kid zone?!  But all of the pale carpeting in this home is strategically 100 percent wool. Fun fact: Wool is effectively stain-repellant thanks to the natural lanolin oils in its fibers. Translation: Wool doesn’t soak up spills like other materials do—and it’s the easiest material to steam clean as needed.

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

DOUBLE DUTY DECOR

Think fashion and function when it comes to pieces they’ll outgrow. The teepee in the girl’s room, for example, is both a fun design note as well as storage solution and activity hot spot. In addition to a cute indoor playhouse, toys and mess can be quickly tucked inside at cleanup time. 

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

KID ‘ZONES’

Keep the messiest activities (see: snack time, arts and crafts) to a designated spot for a solid defense against major messes. This child-size Jens Risom dining set is the first place these kiddos flock to because they have ownership over it—and it makes them feel like tiny grown-ups!

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Real Moms (and 1 Dad) on Their Social Media Strategies for Their Kids

 

Twenty20

You want your kids to be current, but you also want to protect them from the big bad digital world, which makes navigating whether or not to give them social media access a tricky decision. The pros of social media access, in particular for pre-teens and teens? It can strengthen friendships, provide a sense of belonging when they’re grappling with something tough, and help them learn how to express themselves, according to studies. The cons? They’re mostly the ones we’re familiar with (sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression), plus a new biggie: Social media use for teens can become addictive and cause them to live in a world that’s activated by likes, says a recent study out of UCLA. We checked in with five moms—and one dad—to hear more about their approach. 

Element 1

Nope, Not Even a Little

“My daughter is nine years old and we don’t allow social media at all. She has a Kindle with a couple of game apps on it and the only online game she has access to is Prodigy, a math game she plays in class at school. Apparently, my husband and I are really old-school. ‘Social’ anything for her right now is face to face or on the phone, period. She does, however, have an email account that she uses to keep in touch with out of state family and friends. She hops on one day a week to check it and return emails. (I monitor her incoming and outgoing messages.) We told her that when she turns 13, we’ll revisit our decision on her social media use.” — Katie, MA

Yes, But Only Snapchat

“I have two boys, ages 8 and 12. My eight-year-old is too young and doesn’t care about social media at this point, but my 12-year-old is in the seventh grade and wants to interact with his peers. I agreed to let him have Snapchat, which I also have access to, but he’s never on it. That said, he’s a gamer and loves YouTube. This will probably become a heated debate when he turns 13. He’s a good kid—respectful and trustworthy—but I know what’s out there. I’ll likely give in and allow him to start his own channel…and then monitor it like a madwoman.” — Ayana, MI

We’re All About Monitoring Access

“My son will be 12 just before Christmas and has a Facebook account and an email address. He is *only* allowed to use Facebook to message me, his dad and his nana and papa—not for posting. And the email is for logging into certain games and YouTube, all of which we monitor his activity on. He uses pretty good judgment about what’s appropriate and what’s not, but I check his web history once a week and log into his email account and YouTube accounts weekly as well. In my opinion, communicating with him daily about what he’s doing is most important, but also trying to keep up with all the new apps and trends kids use to hide their app use is helpful, too. The only thing I struggle with: Minecraft, where they can basically be talking with anyone.” — Kate, SC

It’s Not Even Up for Discussion

“My daughter is 11 and is not allowed on social media, but many of her friends have Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. She has asked to join several times, but she knows the rules are set. I have had consistent rules with social media and restrictions on internet usage her whole life, so there aren’t too many arguments. She does have an email account, but only for school work. Her cell phone screen time is restricted to three hours and I need to authorize downloading any apps.” — Matt, MA

Snapchat is Allowed…But Only On Our Phone

“My 11-year-old daughter is not allowed to have any social media accounts. She is allowed to Snapchat with her teammates from my phone under my account. She understands the rules and regularly informs me that ‘only old people use Facebook.’ So I am old.” — Lara, CA

Yes, Every Single Platform

“My 15-year-old son is on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. He’s been on social media for a while. I don’t believe it’s realistic to keep teens away from social media. Plus, in high school, they’re using Facebook groups and chats as virtual study accounts, where one is for the parents to see and the other is for their friends. What I do instead of monitoring is make sure he knows that anything he posts could wind up public at any point. There’s no such thing as privacy on social media. Also, since he was in elementary school, I’ve talked to him about how things can come across differently on text or social media than in a personal interaction. I took this approach to help him understand that if you’re joking with someone on text or social media, it might be offensive and it’s much harder to register that—and offer a sincere apology—when you’re missing a personal dynamic.

Though I know a lot of parents who have their kids’ passwords for social accounts, I don’t. I’ve always worked on a trusting relationship and allowing some personal space. If I sensed he was in trouble or participating in something upsetting, I’d pursue that route, but as long as his grades are good, he’s engaged with school and activities, and he’s not showing any signs of emotional problems, I’m OK with giving him some privacy online.” — Sam, NY

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Summertime Essentials

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThe weather is getting warmer, and summer is rapidly approaching. Since summer is the season for fun in the sun, a few essential items can help your children through the hot summer months.

  • Sunscreen is necessary because protecting your child’s skin from the sun is extremely important;
  • Children may also need sunglasses to shield their eyes from the UVA and UVB rays in sunlight. This awesome accessory allows a child to protect her eyes while looking fashionably cute doing it! Be sure to consider a hat as well;
  • Once your children are protected from the sun, it is time to get outside and play. Consider:
    • Using chalk for creative drawings and games like hopscotch with friends and family members;
    • Using spray bottles for watering plants and for cooling off with exciting water games;
    • Capturing and examining bugs with a net and an insect container. Children love venturing outside to look for butterflies and other insects. When your child captures an insect, talk with him about what he has caught, and then release the creature back into its natural surroundings.

How does your family enjoy playtime outdoors?

Summer Sun and Heat Safety Tips

Keeping cool throughout hot summer months can be a challenge, especially in hotter and more humid climates. Tune in to the weather reports on exceptionally hot and humid days and share the tips below with your family.

Apply Sunscreen before Leaving the House

Whether you are headed to the pool, the beach or your back yard, make sure you apply sunscreen to yourself and your children. Don’t miss the tops of the ears and the hands. When applying sunscreen to the skin around the eyes, try using a tear-free sunscreen specially formulated for the face. Sunburns can occur in fifteen minutes of sun exposure and can even occur on cloudy days, so applying sunscreen before heading out and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day is important.

Keep Activity Levels Low When the Humidity Is High

Stay safe on extremely hot and humid days by keeping an eye on weather advisories and the Heat Index graph the National Weather Service publishes. If your children play outside in humid weather, have them come inside and drink water every fifteen minutes.

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Children should typically drink five to eight cups of water every day, depending on how active they are.  On extremely hot and humid days, offer your children more than the recommended daily amount, especially before, during and after physical activity. Since children model their behavior on ours, we need to make sure we’re getting enough water every day, too.

Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Normal reactions to hot weather include heavy sweating, a red face, heavy breathing, thirst and muscle cramps. However, if your child exhibits these reactions along with dizziness, fainting, clamminess, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or a lack of sweat, your child might have heat exhaustion. If your child shows any of these symptoms, take your child indoors or to a shady spot and give your child plenty of water or an electrolyte drink. If the symptoms do not subside in an hour, seek the help of a doctor.  Keep your child indoors until all the symptoms clear up and your child is feeling better.

Play Indoors

If it is too hot and humid for outside play, try one of these simple indoor activities.

  • Create an indoor beach day. Unpack your beach towels, sunglasses and hats. Fill a large plastic bin with sand from your sand box or from a home improvement store. Put the bin on a blanket or sheet to catch any sand that may spill. Toss some beach toys in the bin and let your children play in the sand while enjoying your air conditioning.  Grab some favorite beach treats like ice cream sandwiches or popsicles.  Better yet, make your own ice cream sandwiches with chocolate chip cookies and your favorite flavor of ice cream.
  • Go fishing. Craft your own indoor fishing game by cutting a big piece of blue felt into a round shape, like a pond or lake. Lay the blue felt flat on the floor. Cut felt or cardstock into fish shapes and punch a small hole in the mouth area of each. Tie a lightweight washer to the mouth of each fish with yarn or twine.  Create a fishing rod with a stick from your yard or a dowel from a craft store. Tie one end of a long strand of yarn or twine to the end of the stick or dowel and tie a ring magnet to the other end of the yarn. Toss the fish in the pond and have your little ones take turns fishing. (You can also buy indoor fishing games online.)
  • Build a “sand” castle. Use blocks to build a castle with your children. Try different configurations and take pictures of each to capture your indoor beach day memories.

What do you do with your children when it is too hot to play outside?

The Importance of Limits

 

Dr. Kyle Pruett ALimits define where a child’s world, safety, and autonomy begin and end.  When these limits are clear, a child is free to go on to more interesting and valuable activities – like discovery and learning.  Children will continually retest boundaries, just to make sure they’re in good working order.  But if the limits stay firm, retesting will become less frequent and more manageable.

As your child seeks to win your approval and to find the boundaries in her world, the easier you make her search, the better for both of you because of the wonderful results:

  • Acceptable behavior:  A winsome child is mile ahead of the perpetually demanding whiner.  It’s fun being around pleasant kids for children and adults alike.
  • Learning:  Children who continually test or search for boundaries (either because those boundaries keep shifting or don’t exist) have less time and energy for the really important work – exploration, discovery, and learning.
  • Intellectual development:  To think through a planned action and its consequences – Will something break?  Will Mommy be unhappy? – is an important achievement for toddlers.  It builds cognitive capacities just as surely as thinking through and resolving any other problem.  Children need this formative experience, and without consistent limits, they won’t get it.

Summer Car Safety Tips

According to kidsandcars.org, “On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths.” This fast-paced world is full of distractions and even the greatest parents have been known to forget that their little one is sleeping the back seat. Use the tips below from kidsandcars.org to ensure this never happens to you.

  • Put something you will need, like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID, briefcase, etc., on the floor in the back of the car.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure your child is not in the car. This will soon become a habit. We call this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it is not occupied. When the child is in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. Anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know your child is in the child safety seat in the back.
  • Tell your child’s daycare center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be coming on a normally scheduled day.
  • When a child is missing, check your vehicles and car trunks immediately.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.