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As restrictions put in place by N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper are extended for weeks, parents struggle to keep their children entertained or on task with distance learning, all the while many of them are working from home. The complications of parents being stretched thin and in several different directions could create dangerous situations for the children at home as they are not able to be watched as carefully as they should be.

“Parents just can’t be in all places at all times,” said Lindsay Bailey, the injury prevention coordinator for the UNC Trauma Program and coordinator of Safe Kids Orange & Chatham counties.

And during the pandemic, the last thing parents and/or guardians want to do is take a trip to the hospital.

Normally, Bailey and the Safe Kids organization would hold outreach workshops to provide information and demonstrations on safety procedures and situations for which parents should be more aware. However, with the shelter-in-place order the state is following, Safe Kids is doing more virtual and video demonstrations. 

You can also download and listen to a podcast that Bailey is producing to offer safety tips. The podcast is available at: https://anchor.fm/traumatalk 

Following is a list provided by Bailey to help parents become more aware about areas and situations that may require more attention to ensure a safe environment for children.

1. Nothing is as effective as supervision. Accidental falls are the largest cause of non-fatal injury worldwide and here in UNC Trauma. For small children, stairs and climbing are the biggest theats. It’s most helpful if you and your partner can arrange alternating shifts on “supervision duty.” If you cannot make that work try to find a quiet activity for children to do within your line of vision while you work. Also, make sure to never leave a small child unsupervised with a dog.

2. Household cleaning products and medications can be fatal.  Household cleaners and sanitizers are often placed at eye-level with children on counters or tables and sometime under sinks. Put them high and away from children’s reach and sight. The same goes for medicine. Lock your meds if you can in a lock box or cabinet.  

3. Firearms should be properly stored, which doesn’t just mean hidden and separated from ammunition. It is not only your responsibility but also the law in North Carolina to lock firearms using at least a cable lock. Safe Kids Orange & Chatham counties can provide cable locks if you need them at this time. 

4. Overstressed parents can lead to an unhealthy family environment. It is understandable to lose your patience during this stressful time. Be kind to yourself. The National Children’s Advocacy Center has some excellent resources on how to maintain a healthy family dynamic under stress and how to have healthy talks with your children.

5. Continue to practice the same level of precaution with kids you normally would in and around cars. Recognize that people are very stressed and might not be driving as well as they should. Slow down and be cautious on the roads. If you have to go out with the kids make sure they are buckled and using their car seat as they normally would. Finally, make sure after unloading the car to lock it and put away the keys out of reach. Small children have been known to climb into unlocked cars and get stuck, which results in heatstroke that can be fatal.  If you need assistance with car seat safety or installation information you can call UNC Trauma at 984-974-2437 to talk with a child passenger safety technician.