Once you become a foster parent, it is important to consider the safety issues in your home. Below is a list of questions that walk you through a safety checklist. It is important to have this process in place BEFORE your foster child moves into your home. You will also want to make sure that all of the children are familiar with these same guidelines to promote unity in the household. The safety guidelines are especially crucial if your foster child has severe problems. These children need a very safe environment and unique solutions to fit their needs. First, you must read the requirements for your home and lifestyle (your habits, e.g. smoking, drinking) as issued by each state and locale. You will want to keep a copy of these regulations in a handy place for reference.
SAFETY IS NUMBER ONE. YOU MUST KEEP YOU AND YOUR CHILD SAFE!
Now for your safety check-up. The intention of this list is to get your mind thinking of safety. I hope that you revise my steps to fit your own situation. My goal is for you to think in a new way and to see things through the eyes of safety.
- Do I have safety glass in my storm doors? (If it gets broken, you will wish you had.)
- Do I have a locking medicine cabinet for all medicines? (We drilled a hole in our kitchen cabinet and inserted a lock with a tab that turns.)
- Are my steps and walk areas kept clear at all times?
- Do I explain why this is important for the children to do also?
- Do I have a complete first-aid kit?
- Do I check it on a regular basis to re-stock?
- Do I know CPR? Is my CPR certification current?
- Do I practice fire safety drills by establishing an escape plan that everyone knows and by planning surprise drills?
- Do I conduct inspections of potential danger areas? (e.g. clean lint holder in dryer, eliminate piles of papers or stuff in areas that may constitute a fire hazard, lock up flammable solutions (paints, thinners), test smoke alarms, replace worn extension cords)
- Is my home hot water temperature set to a maximum temperature of 120 degrees that won’t burn the skin?
- Are there any walls with peeling paint? Are their any areas with lead paint that should be removed?
- Do I practice universal precautions to prevent getting or passing diseases?
- Does everyone have their own nail clippers, toothbrush, comb, hair brush, razors, cups, or anything else that could pass on an infection?
- Don’t share things that could pass on infections.
- Does your home have many small items that a child could steal and easily sell for money?
- Do you have alcohol or tobacco in the home? Ideally, if you do, get rid of it and be a good example. You may be able to control how much of these items you use, but many of these kids will not!
- Do you store aerosols or cans, glues, etc. (kids may sniff them) in a place that is secure?
Keeping safe means including everyone who is involved with your child. This includes keeping you and your child and those who work with your child safe. People who work with your child need to be made aware of all potential safety issues. For example, your child may be a biter. You need to tell the workers (a teacher) to be aware of this behavior. No two children are the same. Therefore, you must learn all about that child. Does this child climb out of windows at night? Does he cut himself? Does she spit at you? And the list goes on and on. It will take a while to know your child. So start with what you know and build from there. I hope that these questions have put you in the safety mode. The tried and true still holds up– BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY!!
© Jeffrey Silla