From play dates to sleep-overs, through their lifetime your child will likely spend a lot of time at friends’ homes. As separation anxiety fades, these visits get easier for both of you as your child ages. And yet, every new household brings a new set of risks. While it’s important to encourage your child’s independence, it’s equally important to make certain they are entering a safe environment. Most parents know to ask basic questions about supervision, house rules, etc. before entrusting their child to another household. But too often they fail to consider those areas of risk that are often responsible for childhood accidents in a home. To ensure the safety of your child at all ages, discuss these common household hazards with any adult whose home your child will be visiting.
There is a reason why home insurance providers ask applicants if they have a dog. Animals, no matter how domesticated, can be a safety risk. Many times owners are stunned when even a friendly family pet of many years has suddenly attacked someone. And a new person in a household can easily provoke nervousness in an animal, causing them to lash out. Ask about the presence of household animals, and if they have any history of aggression.
Regardless of your stance on firearms or other weapons, always ask if any are present in a household your child visits and how these items are secured. Ask if the parent allows their child to use such items, including BB guns. If so, and this is not something you are comfortable with, find out if the parent will prevent their use while your child is in their care.
Accidental drownings are a very real danger in homes with pools or water features. For younger children, check that access to such areas is prevented by gates or doors with child-safety locks. Ask how children will be supervised while swimming. Also, diving boards and water slides offer increased risk of injury. Either ask that your child not be allowed to use these features, or make certain you and the homeowner have adequate insurance to cover any personal injuries.
Asking what toys your child will be playing with may seem like overkill. But some toys come with bigger risks. For instance, insurance providers ask if households have trampolines and bike/skate ramps because these “toys” lead to so many accidents. It’s important to know that if bikes and skates are used, use of safety equipment like helmets is required. Additionally, while other parents may allow their children free use of motorized items like three-wheelers and golf carts, you likely have different ideas of what is safe. Therefore, always ask if such “toys” are present and the rules for their use. If you are uncomfortable, ask if the supervising parent will prevent your child from using them.
Poisons and Intoxicants
For younger children, ask how toxic substances like cleaning supplies and medicines have been secured in homes they are visiting. Particularly for older children, another difficulty is limiting their access to items like prescription medications and alcohol. Even more challenging is the fact that some parents allow underage drinking in their home. While you can’t assume a parent will honestly admit this, you should always express to them your own beliefs and rules. Be direct that you do not allow your child to drink and will report to the police any adult who knowingly does.
Parents may be hesitant to ask such questions because they do not want to appear to be overprotective or insulting. But such discomfort is worth ensuring your child’s safety. If the unthinkable happens and your child is injured in another’s home, remember that you may have options for help with medical costs, as well as pain and suffering. Contact a Chicago personal injury attorney who can assist you.
About the Author: Brooke Haley is a Marketing Associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation lawyers that practice in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts in the State of Illinois. For more information about Illinois workers compensation attorney,please visit www.millonpeskin.com.